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Google shifts focus of hacking competition to Chrome OS as Chromebooks grow in popularity

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Chrome Logo

Google has seen competitions like Pwn2Own, where hackers receive prizes for discovering web browser vulnerabilities, as an opportunity to make Chrome more secure. Last year Google ran its own Chrome-only competition alongside Pwn2Own last year, called Pwnium, and now the company is holding Pwnium again — this time with a focus solely on Chrome OS. With the shift in focus, Google clearly believes the nascent operating system is significant enough to promote in the competition. The change is especially timely as sales of Chromebooks appear to be picking up and heavyweights like Lenovo and HP are introducing their first models.

Google is pledging more money than ever before to encourage hackers: it'll give up to a total of $3.14159 million (real cute, Google) to those who compromise the operating system, with individual prizes ranging from $110,000 to $150,000 per exploit. Last August, Google's prizes maxed out at $60,000. While Pwnium will only accept hacks on Chrome OS, the Chrome web browser will still be a participant in Pwn2Own, and Google is backing some of the prizes throughout the competition. If anyone manages to breach the security measures of Chrome OS or Chrome, Google will receive detailed explanations of the exploits used to help it patch whatever bugs are found.