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Oracle VirtualBox, Adobe Reader, Windows Hacked at Pwn2Own 2020

On the second day of the Pwn2Own 2020 hacking competition, participants earned a total of $90,000 for exploits targeting Oracle VirtualBox, Adobe Reader and Windows.

Phi Phạm Hồng of STAR Labs received $40,000 for successfully demonstrating a VirtualBox exploit that resulted in a guest OS escape and arbitrary code execution on the host. The exploit involved out-of-bounds read and uninitialized variable bugs.

Amat Cama and Richard Zhu of team Fluoroacetate earned $50,000 for demonstrating that they could hijack a system by exploiting use-after-free vulnerabilities in Adobe Reader and the Windows kernel.

The Synacktiv team attempted to hack VMware Workstation, but their attempt failed. At the end of the day, Lucas Leong of the Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) — ZDI organizes Pwn2Own —- had a special demonstration: a guest-to-host escape on VirtualBox.

On the first day of the event, researchers earned a total of $180,000 for hacking Windows 10, Ubuntu Desktop, Safari and macOS, which brings the total paid out this year to $270,000. Cama and Zhu were once again declared the winners of the competition.

Pwn2Own typically takes place at the CanSecWest cybersecurity conference in Vancouver, Canada, and participants have to attend in person. However, due to concerns related to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, ZDI has decided to make the event completely virtual.

The total amount paid out this year is half of what researchers earned in 2019, when Cama and Zhu alone won $375,000, and a Tesla for hacking the car’s web browser.

When it initially announced Pwn2Own 2020, ZDI again invited researchers to hack a Tesla. However, since the automotive category requires in-person participation, any Tesla hacking attempts have been postponed “until it's practical and safe to gather in a group setting,” ZDI told SecurityWeek.

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Related: IoT Category Added to Pwn2Own Hacking Contest

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.