Google offers $3.14159 million in cash rewards for successful hacks of its Chrome OS
Google is offering $3.14159 million in cash rewards for successful hacks of its Chrome operating system at this year’s Pwnium hacking contest.
The figure is a nod to pi, an irrational number that has intrigued mathematicians for thousands of years.
Previously Google has offered reward of $1 million and $2 million to crack its systems.
The most likely outcome is that multiple hacks momentarily compromise the system with several contestants earning up to $100,000 each, or $150,000 should their hack survive a system reboot.
For a hack to count, it must be delivered via webpages on a basic-model Samsung 550 Chromebook over a Wi-Fi connection.
“We believe these larger rewards reflect the additional challenge involved with tackling the security defenses of Chrome OS, compared to traditional operating systems,” Google Chrome developer Chris Evans wrote.
Google’s previous contests – CanSecWest 2012 and Hack in the Box – focused on compromising the Chrome browser but not the same-named OS.
Pwnium was started last year as an alternative to the Pwn2Own contest after the latter temporarily changed its rules so that successful hackers didn’t have to show their methods.
For some commercial hackers who only sell their secrets to the highest bidder the change was welcome.
For Pwnium, contests can keep their true identities a secret. A teenager only identified as Pinkie Pie – a name shared by a My Little Pony character – has won $60,000 at each Pwnium.
While Google calls Chrome OS its most secure operating system its market share is so small it hasn’t yet faced a real world field-test.
However, the Pwn2Own prize for cracking the Chrome browser is $100,000 but only $60,000 for Firefox and $65,000 for Safari. Internet Explorer running on Windows 8 wins $100,000 and IE 9 on Windows 7 nets $75,000.
Pwn2Own winners also get to keep the contest provided laptops.
Pwnium hasn’t said whether winners will be able to leave with their Chromebooks but as they only run $450 is likely the company won’t lose sleep over the losses.
Google has never once paid out the full amount offered for a Chrome browser crack.