Charlie Miller, a security researcher who hacked a Macintosh in two minutes last year at CanSecWest’s PWN2OWN contest, improved his time today by breaking into another Macintosh in under 10 seconds.
Miller, an analyst at Independent Security Evaluators in Baltimore, walked off with a $5,000 cash prize and the MacBook he hacked.
“I can’t talk about the details of the vulnerability, but it was a Mac, fully patched, with Safari, fully patched,” said Miller on Wednesday, not long after he had won the prize. “It probably took five or 10 seconds.” He confirmed that he had researched and written the exploit before he arrived at the challenge.
The PWN2OWN rules stated that the researcher could provide a URL that hosted his exploit, replicating the common hacker tactic of enticing users to malicious sites where they are infected with malware. “I gave them the link, they clicked on it, and that was it,” said Miller. “I did a few things to show that I had full control of the Mac.”
Two weeks ago, Miller predicted that Safari running on the Macintosh would be the first to fall.
PWN2OWN’s sponsor, 3Com Corp.’s TippingPoint unit, paid Miller $5,000 for the rights to the vulnerability he exploited and the exploit code he used. As it has at past challenges, it reported the vulnerability to on-site Apple representatives. “Apple has it, and they’re working on it,” added Miller.