Windows 8, Java and three major web browsers have been exploited in a hacking contest in Canada this week.
Each attack at the Pwn2Own contest, part of the CanSecWest conference, used zero-day vulnerabilities on a fully patched Windows 7, 8 and OS X Mountain Lion operating system with default configurations.
Firefox was popped with a use-after-free vulnerability and a new technique that bypasses Address Space Layout Randomisation (ASLR) and Data Execution Prevention (DEP) in Windows.
Windows 8 fell to security consultancy Vupen, which cracked Microsoft's Surface Pro using two Internet Explorer zero day vulnerabilities and a sandbox bypass.
The attack was made by pointing the browser, running on an updated Windows operating system, to a malicious webpage which granted code execution in the sandboxed renderer process.
The pair also found a kernel vulnerability that granted elevated privileges and arbitrary command execution outside of the sandbox with system privileges.
Google shored up Chrome's defences in the lead up to the hacking contest with 10 patches that addressed six high severity flaws.
More than half a million dollars was up for grabs in the competition. Researchers could earn $US100,000 for popping Chrome on Windows 7; the same for hacking Internet Explorer 10 on Win 8; $US75,000 for ripping up IE9 on Win 7; $US60,000 for owning Firefox on Win 7; and $US65,000 for exploiting Apple Safari on OS X Mountain Lion.
Owning IE9 plug-ins on Win 7 attracted $US70,000 for Adobe Reader XI, $US70,000 for Adobe Flash and $US20,000 for Java.
Google will offer a whopping $US3.1 million at the sister Pwnium contest which runs alongside Pwn2Own. The attacks will occur on a Wi-Fi Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook running an updated stable version of Chrome OS.
The cash pool will be divided into $110,000 for a browser or system level compromise in guest mode or as a logged-in user, delivered via a web page; and $150,000 for a compromise with device persistence - guest to guest with interim reboot, delivered via a web page.
Exploit techniques and bugs were responsibly disclosed to affected vendors.