Pwn2Own winner tells Apple, Microsoft to find their own bugs

Charlie Miller won't hand over 20 flaws he found by fuzzing Mac OS, Office, Adobe Reader

By , Computerworld |  Security, Adobe Reader, OpenOffice.org

What really disappointed Miller was how easy it was to find these bugs. "Maybe some will say I'm bragging about finding the bugs, that I can kick ass, but I wasn't that smart. I did the trivial work and I still found bugs."

He went into the project figuring that he wouldn't find any vulnerabilities with the dumb fuzzer. "But I found bugs, lots of bugs. That was both surprising and disappointing." And it also made him ask why vendors like Microsoft, Apple and Adobe, which have teams of security engineers and scores of machines running fuzzers looking for flaws, hadn't found these bugs long ago.

One researcher with three computers shouldn't be able to do beat the efforts of entire teams, Miller argued. "It doesn't mean that they don't do [fuzzing], but that they don't do it very well."

By refusing to hand over technical information about the vulnerabilities he uncovered, Miller is betting that Microsoft, Apple and others will duplicate his work, and maybe, just maybe, be motivated to do better. "I think they'll feel some pressure to find these bugs," he said.

Miller used one of the flaws he found by dumb fuzzing yesterday to exploit Safari on a MacBook Pro, walking off with the notebook, $10,000 and a free trip to Las Vegas this summer to the DefCon hacking conference.

Miller also won cash prizes at Pwn2Own in 2008 and 2009, each time by exploiting a Safari vulnerability on the Mac.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@ix.netcom.com .

Read more about security in Computerworld's Security Knowledge Center.


Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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