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Win 7 and smartphones targeted in Pwn2own challenge

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An annual hacking challenge has put the security of browsers and smartphones in the firing line.

The latest Pwn2own contest at CanSecWest next month will reportedly include challenges involving hacking into browser packages running on Windows 7 PCs and a separate contest involving breaking into next-generation smartphones. 3Com's TippingPoint security division is to sponsor both contests, due to take place at the Vancouver conference from 16 March.

Participants will be challenged to exploit browser vulnerabilities to hack into Sony notebooks running Windows 7 and a selection of browser software packages expected to include IE8, Firefox and Apple Safari. The second contest will involve hacking into smartphones running either Microsoft's Windows Mobile, Google's Android, Symbian or Apple's iPhone operating system.

Details such as the rules of the competition and prize money are yet to be thrashed out. "We're still in the planning stages for how the competition will be structured," said Terri Forslof, the manager of security response at TippingPoint, told Computerworld.

The Pwn2own contest has become a fixture of CanSecWest. Last year's challenge offered a prizes for hackers able to develop a previously unknown security exploit capable of breaking into fully-patched Windows, Mac or Linux PCs.

Well-known vulnerability researcher Charlie Miller cracked into a MacBook Air laptop using a Safari security vulnerability to win the $10,000 cash first prize and keep the kit. In return, he signed over the vulnerability to TippingPoint's Zero Day Initiative security bug brokering scheme. ®

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