At an odd gathering called the CanSecWest hacker conference, held in Vancouver, B.C., techies participated in the Pwn2Own contest. This challenge was at the core of the event and is meant to find the very best hackers of major operating systems. The winners are quite public about their prowess.This year, high-end hackers showed that they could break through the securities software of "Internet Explorer 8, Firefox 3.6.2 on 64-bit Windows 7, Safari on OS X and the Apple (AAPL) iPhone," according to Channel Web. Hackers often publish their work on the internet which makes each of these operating systems particularly vulnerable.The only major OS that was not successfully hacked, based on demonstrations at the gathering, was Google's (GOOG) Chrome.
As attacks on Google's servers, and the websites of a number of consumer internet properties and corporate and government installations, has shown over the last several months, hackers' skills are running well ahead of the security of their targets. But all of these hacker attacks on major sites are done in secret. The Vancouver "congress" shows that the hacker community is becoming progressively less shy about its work. That's likely to mean that their work will spur companies like Microsoft (MSFT) and Apple to redouble their efforts to keep their software systems secure.
The CanSecWest presentations are one more warning that almost every website and operating system that runs on the internet is no longer safe. The "bad guys" are just too good at what they do.
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