Pwn2Own 2016 offers $75K prize for hacking VMware Workstation


The popular Pwn2Own hacking contest next month will come with a $75,000 carrot for contestants to escape a VMware virtual machine, according to a report on Computerworld. The annual contest is held at the CanSecWest security conference, and had seen its rules tweaked over the years.

For this year's contest, participants will have to exploit either Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome on fully patched Windows 10 (64-bit) systems for a $65,000 prize, or Apple Safari on OS X for $40,000. Achieving system-level access on Windows, or root on OS X will see an additional $20,000, while an optional break out of the VMware Workstation virtual machine running Windows will earn another $75,000.

VMware Workstation is used by a niche audience of tech-savvy users such as developers and security researchers. The latter group often run suspicious software within a virtual environment to monitor it, or limit the damage a piece of malware can do. A successful break out is significant as it would threaten the workspace of the developer.

What makes the situation even more interesting was how VMware just last month cut 800 jobs, including all the members of the company's "Hosted UI" team. This team, according to a report on Ars Technica, consists of all the developers who were responsible for the company's Workstation and Fusion desktop virtualization products.

"VMware lost a lot of amazing people, and will be feeling that for some time to come, once they realize what they've done," wrote Christian Hammond in a blog entry in January. Hammond is a former member of the Hosted UI team who left in 2013.

While a VMware spokesperson told Ars Technica the company maintained its commitment to Fusion and Workstation products, only time will tell if the loss of these developers will impact the quality of the product in the longer term – especially on the security front.

For more:
- check out this article at Computerworld

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