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White Hats Earn $440,000 for Hacking Microsoft Products on First Day of Pwn2Own 2021

On the first day of the Pwn2Own 2021 hacking competition, participants earned more than half a million dollars, including $440,000 for demonstrating exploits against Microsoft products.

On the first day of the Pwn2Own 2021 hacking competition, participants earned more than half a million dollars, including $440,000 for demonstrating exploits against Microsoft products.

The competition’s organizer, Trend Micro’s Zero Day Initiative (ZDI), said there were seven attempts on the first day and five of them were successful.

A team called Devcore earned $200,000 for taking complete control of a Microsoft Exchange server by chaining authentication bypass and local privilege escalation vulnerabilities.

A researcher who uses the online moniker OV was awarded $200,000 for a Microsoft Teams code execution exploit.

Another significant reward went to Jack Dates from RET2 Systems, who earned $100,000 for a kernel-level code execution exploit in Apple’s Safari web browser. The exploit leveraged an integer overflow and an out-of-bounds write bug.

Also on the first day, Team Viettel earned $40,000 for a local privilege escalation vulnerability in Windows 10, and Ryota Shiga of Flatt Security earned $30,000 for a privilege escalation flaw in Ubuntu Desktop.

Participants also attempted to hack the Parallels Desktop and Oracle VirtualBox virtualization products, but they failed to demonstrate their exploits within the allotted time.

On the second and third days of Pwn2Own 2021, white hat hackers will attempt to demonstrate exploits against Chrome and Edge, Zoom, Parallels Desktop, Microsoft Exchange, Ubuntu, and Windows 10.

There is also an automotive category this year for hacking Tesla cars. Participants have been offered up to $600,000 and a vehicle, but it seems no one has signed up for this category. A team of researchers did earn a Tesla back in 2019 when the automotive hacking category was introduced at Pwn2Own. In 2020, contestants didn’t have the opportunity to hack a Tesla due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The prize pool for Pwn2Own 2021 exceeds $1.5 million in cash and other prizes. At last year’s event, participants only earned $270,000 for their exploits.

Related: Researchers Earn $280,000 for Hacking Industrial Systems at Pwn2Own Miami

Related: Routers, NAS Devices, TVs Hacked at Pwn2Own Tokyo 2020

Related: NETGEAR Router, WD NAS Device Hacked on First Day of Pwn2Own Tokyo 2020

Related: Researchers Hack Windows, Ubuntu, macOS at Pwn2Own 2020

Written By

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.

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