Google is so confident in the security of its Chrome Web browser that it’s willing to pony up $20,000 to anyone who can hack into it.
The bet will take place as part of the Pwn2Own contest at next month’s CanSecWest conference in Vancouver, British Columbia. Contestants will receive $20,000 and a new CR-48 Chrome notebook computer if they successfully exploit the browser.
The stipulations of the prize are that the hacker — in 30 minutes or less — must carry out the Chrome crack using only Google-written code on the Windows 7 or Mac OS X operating systems.
If there are no successful cracks on the competition’s first day, hackers will get a second chance using non-Google code, and still be eligible for $10,000 from HP Tipping Point, the contest sponsor, and $10,000 from Google. Plug-ins using PDF software not built in to the browser are not allowed.
Google is able to confidently put its money where its mouth is because Chrome’s simplicity has kept it safe from the cyberattacks that commonly affect its peers.
Chrome is the only browser that contains built-in "sandbox" protection, a safeguard that isolates a corrupted program and prevents it from spreading throughout an entire system.
The 2010 competition, which pitted hackers against Chrome as well as Safari, Internet Explorer 8 and the iPhone, saw only Chrome standing at the end of the battle.