You may have heard of the Pwn to Own competition. It’s a hacking competition run annually at the CanSecWest conference, it involves configuring several laptops (both Macs and PCs) with a normal payload of software, and then running three contests – all involving letting hackers attempt to get in and take control of the machine, with gradually lightened restrictions at each stage. If you’re first to hack your way into (i.e. ‘pwn’) one of the machines – you get to keep it, a hefty cash prize, and bragging rights.
If you’re a macophile, it might be a good thing if you haven’t heard of it yet. Â As this year Apple’s web browser Safari was the first to go down. Taken out in mere seconds… such an embarassment.
Firefox and IE8 were both taken out as well, but they lasted longer.
Last year was a pretty bad year in the Pwn to Own contest for the macophiles as well, though Safari did better then – lasting entire minutes. Ruh-roh.
Apple are generally considered to have a fairly secure system platform, primarily as OSX is based on a community developed BSD project, but they’re also widely acknowledged as being very unresponsive when it comes to patching up holes in their software when they are discovered.
This isn’t usually a big problem, the userbase is still small enough that all of the scummy little malware developers still focus their efforts where they can get the most effect: Windows XP.
But if current trends continue, this is going to change – and one thing Apple definitely has (in spades) over Windows, is a completely false sense of invulnerability – most Mac users don’t even have any antivirus installedÂ – so when the fall comes, it’s going to be hard.
So, no good news for Apple, but they’re in good company – as it was bad news for all of the major browser vendors.
But here’s the thing, one browser made it through the entire contest unscathed. One browser was not pwned. And do you know which browser it was? Hint 1: it’s Windows based. Hint 2:Â I’ve completely given it away in the title of the post.
Yes the answer, my dear friends, is Google Chrome.
Yet another reason, as if you needed it, toÂ just go and blimmin’ well try it out already.Â You know you want to.
(Still not released for OSX, but if Apple are smart, they’ll copy all of the clever tricks Google have implemented in Chrome into Safari anyway. Which is a win-win-win all around.)