Google’s Approach to Friendly Hacking: Good Idea or Best Idea?
There’s been a long understanding between the world of hackers and software companies. They’re not supposed to like one another and each is working ever more diligently to ‘defeat’ and humiliate the other. It’s a crime-world of e-peen and secrecy and the status quo was understood by both sides. That is, until Google got involved. Their approach has certainly been unique and met with rather amazing success. Google has been offering money to find exploits for some time, most recently $20,000 to users in the PWN2OWN competition at the CanSecWest conference. How has this played out? Well, for the past 3 years at the competition, Chrome has come out unhacked.
It’s a long-standing virtue that competition is healthy for any business and while there is certainly competition these days in the corporate world of operating systems and browsers, there’s a new breed of competition being formed between Google and the hacking community. Chrome has become the new target with the bullseye on it’s back for all the top hackers and for all the right reasons. Their open-armed approach to finding bugs has so far netted over $100,000 in payouts. By turning the big company vs. enthusiast rivalry into a game rather than a war where the prizes are ever-increasing fame within the hacking and mainstream world as well as money, Google software may just be on track to become the safest around by leaps and bounds.
Does this mean that the Chrome browser and OS are unhackable? By all means no, there will always be holes and possible exploits. It does mean, however, that users will get to reap the benefits of the approach with safer and more stable software. As companies and home users become more and more aware of identity and data theft, Google has the opportunity to hit the ground running with the forthcoming public release of the Chrome OS and turn it into something special on the security front. So is this what current and future users should look forward to for the Chrome OS? Time will tell, but here’s hoping the answer is yes.
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