Pwn2Own is an annually organized hacking contest. You can even think about calling this as the most popular hacking contest that you can find out there in the world as of now. The hacking contest was initially held back in the year 2007. It was in Vancouver where the contest was held for the very first time. Since then, it became an annual contest. Hackers from all around the world are taking place in this contest in order to discover vulnerabilities that exist in mobile devices and software.
What can you get when you win Pwn2Own?
Pwn2Own is a contest that is based upon a unique theme. You will be able to take part in this contest and try to discover vulnerabilities of a device or software. In case if you can do that, you will be able to have the device. Along with that, you will also be able to get an impressive cash prize. The main objective of this contest is to discover the vulnerabilities of software and devices. Along with that, people are provided the chance to discover the progress that is made in security within previous years as well. Due to the impressive rewards offered, the contest is gaining popularity among hackers who live all around the world.
History of the contest
As mentioned earlier, the very first Pwn2Own contest was held in the year 2007. The idea for this contest was brought forward by Dragos Ruiu. He was struggling with some bugs in Apple Kernel. Dragos went ahead and escalated those bugs to the team at Apple, but he didn’t get a favorable response. Since the response was getting delayed, Dragos went ahead and came up with a method to have a contest. That’s how the Pwn2Own contest was created. From the beginning, the main objective of this contest was to discover the security issues in different products and software applications. This contest was able to create a major impact on the release of products as well. For example, the engineers behind Mac OS X agreed to the fact that they were able to enhance the security of the operating system with the help of Pwn2Own contest.
Pwn2Own contest during the recent years
Along with time, the popularity of Pwn2Own contest increased. As of now, you can call it as one of the most prominent contests in hacking. A variety of prizes are given to the hackers who are taking part in the contest. For example, the hackers who are successful in hacking web applications and websites will be able to end up with winning laptops. In the year 2018, China banned the security researchers in the country from taking part in the contest. As a response to that, the event that was held in that was relatively smaller. However, the contest was sponsored by Microsoft.
One of the long term sponsors of Pwn2Own is Trend Micro. In fact, the Zero Day Initiative by Trend Micro continues to offer support to Pwn2Own on the other hand, we will be able to see how ZDI reporting is all the vulnerabilities that are discovered within the contest to the public, along with the hacks that are made. It helped this to become one of the largest hacking contests taking place in the world as well.
The hacking contest Pwn2Own in 2019 received lots of positive attention because cars were added into the prize pool for the very first time. This impressed the hackers who are about to take part in the contest. In order to win the cars, they had to go ahead and discover the exploits that were present within Tesla software. On the other hand, we could also see how the contest added numerous industrial control system as well.
2020 contest of Pwn2Own
The 2020 contest of Pwn2Own was held in the month of January 2020. It took place in Miami. The targets of this contest were SCADA and Industrial Control Systems. All the contestants who took part in this contest were able to walk away with a total prize pool worth $250,000 in cash. It was held in the form of a three day event. All the hackers who took part in the event were able to demonstrate their skills to the audience. They were able to figure out multiple exploits that were present in numerous ICS leading platforms out there as well.
There was a spring edition of Pwn2Own, which took place in the month of March as well. For the spring Edition, Tesla became the main sponsor. In fact, this provided hackers with the opportunity to increase their chances of winning a Tesla Model 3. However, this was not a physical event. Instead, it was mainly held as a virtual event for the very first time in history due to the COVID-19 fears. However, remote participation was quite impressive for the hacking event.
At the end of the event, it was possible for us to see a total of 6 demonstrations. The hackers who took part in the contest were able to walk away with prizes worth up to $270,000 as well. They were able to discover 13 bugs, which were spread in applications such as Apple Safari, Adobe Reader, and even macOS. On top of that, it was possible to find some minor bugs in Oracle VirtualBox and Microsoft Windows.
The 2021 edition of Pwn2Own
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 edition of Pwn2Own took place in the form of a virtual event as well. However, it was based in Austin. The contest was expanded to Enterprise communications category as well. This included some of the most popular tools that are being used by people as of now, such as Zoom Messenger and Microsoft Teams. Likewise, the hackers who took part in Pwn2Own 2021 edition were able to go ahead and look for the bugs in Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, and Parallels Desktop. It concluded as a successful event as well.