Pwn2Own is a hacking conference with a very simple premise: Hack into the device, and it’s yours. All sorts of computers and browsers and devices have been featured over the years, but for the first time ever, there will be a car. Specifically, a Tesla Model 3. Hackers will try their best to get inside its systems and wreak havoc, all for the chance to win the car.
This might sound insane to the average person, especially when you consider that Tesla itself is providing the car. After all, who wants to show the world that its products are vulnerable?
But with your Big Adult Pants on, you can see the world in a more realistic way, and the reality of the world is that no system yet devised (unless it’s a perpetually air-gapped computer with no ports and no input and really just DON’T EVEN LOOK AT IT) is completely un-hackable. Hackers know this, too, and are constantly devising ways to get into and exploit vulnerabilities in all sorts of fun systems that have computers attached, be it your iPad or your car or even your fridge.
And with your Big Adult Pants on, there’s two ways of looking at that problem. Either you can put your head in the sand and hope it goes away and that no one ever finds out (they will find out) while hackers go out and sell the uncovered exploits to a bunch of nefarious n’er-do-wells, ORRR you can go out and purchase the exploits yourselves. With the latter option, a company gets knowledge of vulnerabilities in its systems that it may not have been aware of before, and they have the opportunity to patch the unpublicized vulnerabilities before they become public, and can be exploited.
That latter option is known as a “bug bounty,” and it’s pretty much what it sounds like. Tesla (and lots of other companies, it’s not just Tesla that does this) offers money for bugs, anywhere from $100 up to $15,000 for vulnerabilities, and it’s made over 300 payouts so far, according to BugCrowd.com.
Pwn2Own, then, can sort of be seen as a bug bounty competition. Except with this one, you won’t win a mere $100.
You can win a Tesla Model 3, as noted in event sponsor Trend Micro’s press release.
But first, you gotta break in.