Have you ever found a bug or an exploit in a program you use or a website you visit? If it’s a well-known program or a high traffic website, you could win money for it. A teenage male that goes by the online moniker of “Pinkie Pie” found an exploit with Google Chrome and won $60,000 as part of Google’s “Pwnium” contest that sought “fully functional exploits” and awarded big sums to those who found them. This isn’t the first time “Pinkie Pie” found an exploit for Google—in fact, the Google Chrome blog said, “Congratulations to Pinkie Pie, returning to the fray with another beautiful piece of work!” The exploit was then patched within hours. Google isn’t the only company to do this—Facebook offered $500 to any user who could find vulnerabilities in its own programming.
Google’s Pwnium 2 competition took place on Tuesday at a conference called Hack in the Box, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. His fresh exploit relied entirely on bugs within Chrome itself. He appears to be the only top-prize winner, as Google’s Chromium blog announcement didn’t mention any other hackers.
No program or website is completely secure. In any program or website there are bugs and exploits that those with ill intent can use to crash your computer or entire networks of computers, so finding these bugs and exploits are essential to ensure that your network security is up to date. Although some people believe that finding these bugs and exploits are something that only professionals and those with extensive programming experience can do, even non-techies can do their part—almost every website or program has a feature that allows people to report bugs and exploits directly to the developers.
“Pinkie Pie” even wanted to work for Google in 2011—he even said in his cover letter that he could crack Google Chrome on the Mac OS X. Although they didn’t hire him, a Google rep said that they would take another look at his resume following his successful find.