Hacking is a solitary business, furtive and dimly lit by the glow of a computer screen, at least in the popular imagination. Not so the semiannual competition known as Pwn2Own, organized by Hewlett-Packard’s (HPQ) Zero Day Initiative (ZDI), where teams gather to demonstrate “exploits,” the insider term for using security vulnerabilities in Web browsers and video streaming programs to gain control of a laptop.
This year, eight contestants (some groups, some individuals) completed 12 successful attacks, winning $850,000 from March 12 to 13 in Vancouver. There was also a chance for HP and Google (GOOG) teams to hack for charity, disclosing vulnerabilities and donating the prize money to the Canadian Red Cross. The results tell you a bit about cybersecurity.