Google patches 19 Chrome bugs week before Pwn2Own hacking contest

Pays out $14K in bounties to 9 researchers

Google on Monday patched 19 vulnerabilities in Chrome, paying nine researchers $14,000 in bug bounties for reporting the flaws.

As it did last year, Google beefed up the security of its browser a week before the kickoff of Pwn2Own, the annual hacking contest held at the CanSecWest security conference in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The update to Chrome 9.0.597.107 fixed 16 flaws rated "high," the second-most-severe ranking in Google's threat system, and quashed three "medium" bugs.

None of the vulnerabilities were ranked "critical," the category essentially reserved for bugs that may let an attacker escape Chrome's anti-exploit "sandbox." Google patched two sandbox-escape bugs -- both pegged critical -- in Chrome this year.

The bugs patched Monday were in several components, including WebGL, the hardware accelerated 3D graphics API that debuted in early February with Chrome 9; SVG (scalable vector graphics) rendering and animation; and the browser's address bar.

Nearly a quarter of the vulnerabilities were identified as "stale pointer" bugs, a term used to describe flaws in an application's -- in this case, Chrome's -- memory allocation code.

As is its practice, Google locked its bug tracking database to bar outsiders from viewing the technical details of the just-patched vulnerabilities. The company blocks public access to flaws for weeks or even months to give users time to update.

Google paid out $14,000, the second-highest total this year, for the 15 vulnerabilities found and reported by outside security researchers. Nine different researchers received checks, with Martin Barbella taking home $3,000, Sergey Radchenko $2,500 and two others $2,000 each.

Google and Mozilla, which makes Firefox, are the only browser developers to pay bounties directly to bug researchers.

In hindsight, Monday's update should have been expected: In 2010, Google also patched Chrome the week before Pwn2Own.

2011's Pwn2Own begins March 9, when security researchers will vie for fame and cash by trying to take down not just Chrome, but also the current versions of Apple 's Safari 5, Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 and Mozilla's Firefox 3.6.

Monday's patches could be particularly important this year, since Google has a special stake in Pwn2Own: It put up the $20,000 prize for hacking Chrome on the first of the contest's three days. (After that, if no one breaks the browser, the rules change and Google will fork over just $10,000, with Pwn2Own sponsor HP TippingPoint ponying up the other $10,000.)

At least one other browser builder will issue patches before Pwn2Own's first day of competition. Mozilla has scheduled a security update of Firefox 3.6 for later today.

The patched Chrome 9 can be downloaded for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux from Google's Web site. Users already running the browser will be updated automatically.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

Read more about browsers in Computerworld's Browsers Topic Center.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags securitybrowsersGooglesoftwareapplicationsMalware and VulnerabilitiesCybercrime and Hacking

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?