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Making sport of browser security, hackers topple IE, Safari

Once again

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Microsoft not left out of the carnage

Not to be left out, IE was equally devastated. Steven Fewer, an independent security researcher and principle of security consultancy Harmony Security, said he also exploited a use-after-free bug in the browser. Microsoft has fortified IE with a security sandbox that isolates it from more sensitive parts of the operating system, so Fewer had to exploit a design flaw in to break out.

“The (sandbox) escape I found was pretty easy, to be honest,” he said. “Surprisingly so.”

In all, he said it took him about six weeks of full-time research to find the bugs and write working exploits for them.

As the contest commenced, there were four contestants signed up to attack Safari, three to attack IE and just one to attack Chrome, which in addition to the $15,000 prize awarded by Pwn2Own sponsor Tipping Point, also fetched $20,000 from Google. The contestant never showed.

Day Two of the contest will turn its attention to smartphone security, with $15,000 prizes to the first person who successfully commandeers a Dell Venue Pro running Windows 7 Mobile, an iPhone 4, a BlackBerry Torch 9800, and a Nexus S running Google's Android. All four platforms have multiple contestants signed up to attack them, although Android hacker Jon Oberheide recently dropped out after killing his own Android vulnerability.

George Hotz, the prolific hacker and jailbreaker who goes by the moniker GeoHot, has also dropped out, evidently because Sony, which is waging a no-hold-barred legal fight against him for unlocking the PlayStation 3 game console, has given him much more pressing things to attend to.

The contest runs through Friday at the CanSecWest security conference in Vancouver. ®

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