Pwn2Own: IE, Firefox, Chrome and Java go down

The Pwn2Own competition is underway at the CanSecWest conference in Vancouver, and during the first day of competition Java, IE 10, Firefox and Chrome were successfully “pwned” by various competitors, bringing them tens of thousands of dollars in prizes.

French security firm Vupen got most of the money, as their team managed to compromise:

  • IE 10 on Windows 8 with two zero-days and achieved a full Windows 8 compromise with sandbox bypass
  • Firefox 19 on Windows 7 by using a use-after-free vulnerability and a brand new technique to bypass ASLR/DEP protection on Windows 7 without the need of any ROP (Return-oriented programming)
  • Java 7 on Windows 7 by using a same unique heap overflow as a memory leak to bypass ASLR and as a code execution.

Java was also “pwned” by Context Information Security consultant and vulnerability researcher James Forshaw, and Accuvant LABS security research scientist Joshua Drake.

Researchers Jon Butler and Nils from UK-based MWR Labs managed to exploit Google Chrome on Windows 7 and then used a kernel bug to bypass the sandbox (details revealed on their blog).

The first day was obviously very successful – let’s see what today and tomorrow brings. Today Vupen is scheduled to take on Flash, Pharm Toan will take a stab at IE 10, and George Hotz will be hitting Adobe Reader.

It’s good to see that Vupen has, after all, decided to enter the contest again this year. Vupen CEO and head of research Chaouki Bekrar said that they thought a lot about whether to participate this year because the cost to create a reliable exploit is getting very high.

“We spent several weeks finding the vulnerability in IE 10 and several more weeks writing a reliable exploit,” he said for Threatpost. “Even the prizes at Pwn2Own don’t cover that cost. But we have other techniques.”

He also noted that Chrome is the hardest target because of its sandbox and Google’s continuous efforts to fix flaws in it, and Java the easiest because it lacks a sandbox and its code base is simply too big.

The rules of and prizes handed over by HP TippingPoint’s Zero Day Initiative – the organizers of the Pwn2Own competition – can be perused here.

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