The Chromebook Pixel is Google's own hardware offering that runs the Chrome operating system / Google

The internet giant is offering rewards for any researchers who can compromise laptops running the Chrome OS operating system

Big technology companies regularly pay out bounties to hackers that report software faults rather than exploiting them, but sometimes these rewards can be embarrassingly small

For example, although Facebook recently paid their largest ever cash reward to a hacker who found what he described as “the keys to the kingdom” (access to any file on any Facebook server) the total sum was still only $33,500. A cheap price considering the damage a serious hack could create.

Google, however, are upping the stakes and offering prizes totalling $2.7million to any researchers who can hack the Chrome operating system at the Pwnium security conference in March.

Individual prizes of $110,000 and $150,000 will be given to teams or individuals who can ‘persistenty compromise’ a HP or Acer Chromebook, according to PC World. This means that the computer should remain under their control even after a reboot.

However, although the prize money is substantial it’s unlikely that Google will pay out anywhere near the full amount. In a similar contest organised by the internet company last year they offered $3.14159 million to would-be hackers (those are the first six digits of pi – the figure for this year’s bounty comes from another mathematical constant) but ended up paying out just $40,000.

This sum was paid out to a mysterious hacker known as Pinkie Pie, whose exploits have previously been called “works of art” by Google engineers. His work was praised by Google for “honouring the spirit of the competition” and helping the company “find fixes sooner, target new hardening measures and keep users safe”.

Google says that its total pay-outs for reported exploits currently exceeds $1.5 million.

Comments