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Pwn2Own 2012 touts bigger prizes, drops mobile hacks

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Organisers of security conference CanSecWest have changed the rules for the next outing of its Pwn2Own computer hacking contest.

The prize money will be increased, but smartphone hacks have been dropped from the competition. Instead Pwn2Own will challenge security researchers to develop browser exploits in order to hack into PCs. Target systems will include Windows and Mac machines running Internet Explorer, Apple Safari, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

Unlike previous years, the contest will be points-based with all platforms in play throughout the competition. Bonus points will be offered for developing zero-day exploits but this won't be decisive, as explained in the revised rules here.

The three most successful participants will win cash prizes of $60,000, $30,000 and $15,000 in order of ranking, and take away the laptops they manage to compromise. The contest will run during the opening days of CanSecWest, which takes place in Vancouver, British Columbia, between 7 and 9 March. As before TippingPoint is sponsoring the competition.

Google is offering a separate prize of $20,000 for Chrome hacks.

Reaction to the revised set-up has been lukewarm. "I have mixed feelings about the new rules," said serial Pwn2Own victor Charlie Miller. "Bigger prizes are good. Working on site isn't my style." ®

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