Charlie Miller Does It Again At PWN2OWN


You right remember in March last year we posted about Charlie Miller at the PWN2OWN contest owning the MacBook Air in under 2 minutes.

Guess what? He’s done it again! This time though he’s even faster clocking in at under 10 seconds. No one else stood a chance. He walked off with the prize again, $5000 and the MacBook that he hacked.

Of course he wrote the exploit before hand, but still impressive!

Charlie Miller, a security researcher who hacked a Macintosh in two minutes last year at CanSecWest’s PWN2OWN contest, improved his time today by breaking into another Macintosh in under 10 seconds.

Miller, an analyst at Independent Security Evaluators in Baltimore, walked off with a $5,000 cash prize and the MacBook he hacked.

“I can’t talk about the details of the vulnerability, but it was a Mac, fully patched, with Safari, fully patched,” said Miller on Wednesday, not long after he had won the prize. “It probably took five or 10 seconds.” He confirmed that he had researched and written the exploit before he arrived at the challenge.

It guess it might be a Safari exploit, but I guess if you keep your ears open you’ll hear about it soon enough.

I wonder if he’ll be able to pull the same trick again next year, with his record so far I’d say it wouldn’t be a large stretch of imagination.

The PWN2OWN rules stated that the researcher could provide a URL that hosted his exploit, replicating the common hacker tactic of enticing users to malicious sites where they are infected with malware. “I gave them the link, they clicked on it, and that was it,” said Miller. “I did a few things to show that I had full control of the Mac.”

Two weeks ago, Miller predicted that Safari running on the Macintosh would be the first to fall.

PWN2OWN’s sponsor, 3Com Corp.’s TippingPoint unit, paid Miller $5,000 for the rights to the vulnerability he exploited and the exploit code he used. As it has at past challenges, it reported the vulnerability to on-site Apple representatives. “Apple has it, and they’re working on it,” added Miller.

Interestingly another researcher later broke into a Sony laptop that was running Windows 7 by exploiting a vulnerability in Internet Explorer 8. So Safari and IE8 both fell!

What with all the claims from Microsoft that IE8 is so secure…I guess that pissed on their bonfire didn’t it?

This year’s PWN2OWN also has a section for mobile operating systems, the prize is larger too at $10,000. If you want to join you can have a crack at Windows Mobile, Google’s Android, Symbian, and the operating systems used by the iPhone and BlackBerry.

Source: Computer World (Thanks Navin)

Posted in: Apple, Exploits/Vulnerabilities

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4 Responses to Charlie Miller Does It Again At PWN2OWN

  1. navin March 24, 2009 at 12:57 pm #

    cheers!! :)

  2. Morgan Storey March 25, 2009 at 2:27 am #

    Dammmn that is fast. I wonder if we have seen a turning point where apple have become easier to Pwn than windows. MS has made good strides with their security initiatives something we haven’t really seen from Apple.
    I am currently sending this to all the Mac Fan Bois I know, as I am not a big apple fan.

  3. Sleepy March 25, 2009 at 3:01 am #

    The IE8 was beta and windows claims that if they would have had 24 hours more it would of been unhackable.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/03/25/pwn2own_ie_exploit/

    Either way, good stuff.

  4. Mat Jenin March 26, 2009 at 6:47 am #

    Any others person(s) hack MacBook yet ?