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No Browser is Secure: All Major Browsers Hacked at 2015 Pwn2Own Contest

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At least on Windows, and possibly on Mac. At the 2015 Pwn2Own Contest in Vancouver, which is part of the larger computer security conference called CanSecWest, independent security researchers were able to execute exploits on all four major browsers. The victims were Safari on OSX, Chrome on Windows, Firefox on Windows, and, less surprising, Internet Explorer on Windows.

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Also read: YouTube Finally Ditches Flash for HTML5

On Wednesday, security researcher Mariusz Mlynski was able to escalate a bug in Windows via Mozilla Firefox into system privileges. This is called pwning, because from there the hacker can, essentially, do whatever they like with the system.

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On Thursday, Jung Hoon Lee also known as lokihardt won the largest prize of $225,000 for his exploits, which were the majority of the successful ones shown. He demonstrated a bug in Chrome on Windows and then was able to parlay from there to system level privileges, netting him $100,000. Additionally, he broke Chrome’s beta version for an extra $10,000. Then, he broke Internet Explorer and Apple’s Safari for another $115,000 combined. The Safari exploit is perhaps the more interesting because it pulls the rug from under the belief that Safari and OSX are extremely secure. Lee was able to gain root access through the browser, however, and that should be enough to move Mac users to other browsers pronto.

Additionally on Thursday, for the smallest prize taken, ilxu1a, whose real name was not divulged, successfully pwn’d a Windows laptop using a Mozilla Firefox exploit. For this, he was rewarded with $15,000.

Adobe Reader and Flash Player Also Exploited

adobe vulnerabilityNo browser exploits were successfully demonstrated on Linux or other open-source operating systems; additionally, the other browser somewhat commonly used (though not nearly at the level of the others), Opera, was not exploited. Chinese researchers did do additional exploits on Internet Explorer 11, however, through bugs in Adobe Flash. From there, they were able to parlay this using a flaw in Windows to gain system privileges. This won a combined total of $85,000, split between KeenTeam and Team509.

KeenTeam was also involved in exploiting Adobe Reader in Internet Explorer on Windows, pwning successfully the Windows machine on which the software was running. In other Adobe exploit news, Frenchman Nicolas Joly was able to exploit both Adobe Reader and Flash Player for system privileges. Joly’s prize was $90,000.

No single attack leveraged was able to pwn in and of itself, it was necessary in all cases to execute more than one attack. In many cases, this could downgrade the effectiveness of an attack because it could be detected in its first stages or might be done improperly, prompting access to be denied from there. While the publicly available information about these exploits is vague, it seems well within the realm of possibility that they could be executed via remotely hosted code in the browser.

The Pwn2Own contest began in 2007 with the purpose of executing system-level privilege-gaining exploits on widely-used software. “Widely used” can be ambiguous, since in Asia and Russia, open-source operating systems are far more common than they are in North America and Europe. All cash prizes are in addition to the hardware that the exploits were conducted on, and all exploits were reported to the vendors responsible for the victimized software.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Илья Найдов

    March 22, 2015 at 11:06 am

    It always seems like no-one is even trying to hack Linux and Opera browser simply because almost no-one is using them… Otherwise, there would be enough exploits for them too… Hackers are simply “not interested”…

    • SententiaeDeo

      March 23, 2015 at 7:32 am

      Or maybe Linux is so secure that crackers just don’t try.

  2. fabrica64

    March 22, 2015 at 11:55 pm

    It would be good to have some more details…
    “Lee was able to gain root access through the browser”

    What does this mean? He gained root access using a Mac, opening Safari and accessing an HTML page or did he gain root access from remote, when an unaware user access an HTML page?

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Breaches

Uber Is Paying Hackers to Keep Quiet

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Uber Technologies Inc. has reportedly paid hackers to delete scores of private data stolen from the company in a security breach that was concealed for over a year. The revelation provides further confirmation that, when it comes to cyber security, crime does pay.

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Massive Data Breach

According to Bloomberg Technology, hackers retrieved the personal data of 57 million Uber customers and drivers at some point last year. Nobody heard about it because the rideshare company paid the hackers $100,000 to keep quiet. A purge at the front office of Uber also ensured that the massive cyber breach was kept under wraps.

The compromised data was from October 2016 and included the names, phone numbers and addressed of 50 million Uber riders globally. About seven million drivers had their personal information accessed as well.

At the time of the cyber attack, Uber was inundated with a slew of legal issues stemming from alleged privacy violations. Rather than shine even more negative spotlight on the company, Uber executives decided to pay hackers to stay quiet.

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“None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it,” Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over as CEO in September, said in a statement that was published by Bloomberg. “We are changing the way we do business.”

Hackers have done a masterful job infiltrating companies and governments in recent years. As a reminder, recent cyber attacks levied against Yahoo!, Target Corp and Equifax Inc. dwarf Uber’s 57 million compromised accounts.

Various reports indicate that cyber attacks are bleeding the global economy dry. One report, issued by the World Economic Forum, suggests that cyber crime cost the world economy $445 billion in 2016. If cyber crime were its own market cap, it would exceed Microsoft Inc., Facebook Inc. and ExxonMobil Corp

The Fall of Uber?

Uber revolutionized the ride-hailing business over the span of seven years by giving more power to the consumer. Several missteps later, the company finds itself in legal hot water, with its future appearing less certain than it did just one year ago.

The rideshare company faces at least five U.S. probes ranging from bribes to illicit software and right up to unethical pricing schemes. According to another Bloomberg report, Uber is under investigation for violating price transparency regulations, not to mention the alleged theft of documents for Google’s autonomous cars.

Some governments are sensing weakness in the ride-hailing service, and are moving toward banning the Uber app entirely. London is the most prominent example of a city that has taken definitive steps to outlaw the service over a “lack of corporate responsibility.”

Even with its legal troubles, Uber is a revolutionary technology that has influenced a bevy of other innovations aimed at improving the human experience.

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Ethereum Notches Two-Month High as Bitcoin Offspring Triggers Volatility

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Digital currency Ethereum climbed to a two-month high on Monday, taking some of the heat off Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash, which have slumped since the weekend.

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Ethereum Forges Higher Path

Concerns over Bitcoin created a favourable tailwind for Ethereum (ETH/USD), which is the world’s No. 2 digital currency by total assets. Ether’s price topped $340.00 on Monday and later settled at $323.54. That was the highest since June 20.

At its peak, ether was up 10% on the day and 70% for the month of August.

The ETH/USD was last down 2.2% at $315.02, according to Bitfinex. Prices are due for a brisk recovery, based on the daily momentum indicators.

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Fractured Bitcoin Community

Bitcoin and its offshoot, Bitcoin Cash, retreated on Monday following a volatile weekend. The BTC/USD slumped at the start of the week and was down more than 3% on Tuesday, with prices falling below $3,900.00. Just last week, Bitcoin was trading at new records near $4,500.00.

Bitcoin Cash, which emerged after the Aug. 1 hard fork, climbed to new records on Saturday, but has been in free-fall ever since. The BTH was down another 20% on Tuesday to $594.49, according to CoinMarketCap. Its total market value has dropped by several billion over the past two days.

Analysts say that a “fractured” Bitcoin community has made Ethereum a more attractive bet this week. The ether token has shown remarkable poise over the past seven days, despite trading well shy of a new record.

Other drivers behind Ethereum’s advance are steady demand from South Korean investors and growing confidence in a smooth upgrade for the the ETH network. The upgrade, which has been dubbed “Metropolis,” is expected in the next several weeks. Its key benefits include tighter transaction privacy and greater efficiency.

Ethereum Prices Unaffected by ICO Heist

Fin-tech developer Enigma was on the receiving end of a cyber-heist on Monday after hackers took over the company’s website, mailing list and instant messaging platforms. The hack occurred three weeks before Enigma’s planned Initial Coin Offering (ICO) for September 11.

In addition to defacing the company’s website, the hackers pushed a special “pre-sale” ahead of the ICO. While many users realized it was a scam, 1,492 ether tokens – valued at $495,000 – were directed into the hackers’ cryptocurrency wallet by unsuspecting backers.

The irony in all this is that Engima is a cryptography company that prides itself on top-notch security protocols. The company issued a statement that its servers had not been compromised.

ETH/USD (Bitfinex)

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Ethereum Prices on Track for 35% Monthly Drop

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It has been a difficult month for ethereum. The world’s No. 2 digital currency has lost a third of its value over the past 30 days following a series of cyber breaches targeting vulnerable wallets and ICOs.

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Ethereum Struggles to Regain Momentum

Ethereum (ETH/USD) was trading near $197.00 Sunday at 6:30 BST, according to Bitfinex. That represents a decline of around 5%. At current values, ethereum’s market cap was $18.4 billion.

The ETH/USD exchange rate has struggled throughout July, with prices briefly falling below $160.00. The decline, which amounted to a 60-day low, lured bargain-hunters back into the market. After surging back toward $250.00, the ETH/USD has consolidated below the $220-mark, which continues to offer strong resistance. On the opposite side of the spectrum, major support is located at $180.00.

A price recovery may prove elusive in the short-term, with the Relative Strength Index (RSI) and Stochastic indicator signalling weak underlying momentum.

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Despite its recent decline, ethereum’s value has surged more than 2,200% this year.

Cyber Attacks, SEC Weigh on Market

The ethereum network suffered a large-scale cyber breach earlier this month resulting in the loss of tens of millions of dollars. A community of ethical hackers quickly banded together to “rescue” hundreds of millions of dollars worth of tokens.

Blockchain-based trading platform Coindash was also hijacked during an initial coin offering (ICO). The breach exposed Coindash’s ether wallet address, resulting in the loss of $7 million worth of ether.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has also taken an interest in the ethereum-based ICO market. Last week, the regulator concluded that a certain multi-million dollar token sale last year violated securities law. Although ICOs have been compared to crowd-sourcing, the SEC maintained that some tokens were in fact securities.

Analysts say the SEC ruling could impact the future of ICOs, although it remains unclear how the regulator is pursuing this market. The SEC’s July 25 press release cautions investors about ICOs in general.

ETH/USD (Bitfinex)


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