At this year’s PWN 2 OWN hacking contest, a MacBook Air was hacked before any Vista or Linux machines. The skilled hacker responsible for the victory walked away as this year’s champion with the hacked computer and $10,000. It seems Apple really does employ a reality distortion field over its customers, and if this isn’t evidence, we couldn’t say what is.
Before we proceed, we must address the reality distortion field. It’s the belief that your Mac is perfectly protected, that nothing beats an Apple product, and that other machines are pathetic. It’s the feeling of superiority you get when you see a Mac vs PC commercial (assuming you own a Mac), but yesterday, Charlie Miller neutralized Apple’s reality distortion field for everybody at CanSecWest’s PWN 2 OWN.
Contestants were offered a Sony Vaio, Fujitsu U810, and MacBook Air. At any point during the competition, if a hacker manages to hack into one of those machines (to read the contents of a specific file), he’s allowed to take it home. The first one to accomplish the task of hacking a machine is also rewarded the grand prize of $10,000. The contest occurs over a series of days, and with each day that passes, the rules are relaxed a little more, according to InfoWorld.
On the first day, contestants were only allowed to attack the machines over the network. The second day, Thursday, allowed hackers to command contest officials to do small speccific tasks, and this is when Miller soared. He asked officials to visit a specific site, giving him near instant control of the MacBook Air through a Safari exploit.
It’s likely the reason the Mac was hacked first is because it may have been the most sought after prize. After all, it is a free MacBook Air. Despite the machine’s allure, the Vaio and Fujitsu would make great second-place prizes, but the hackers were unable to breach Linux and Vista — yes, the remixed Windows XP mess that is known as Vista held its ground on the second day. Vista didn’t even budge as Shane Macauley, one of last year’s winners, spent a good chunk of Thurday trying to crack it.
The lesson here is that OS X was never that secure. It’s just different and less popular, but different and less popualr doesn’t mean better. It never was and never has been the impenetrable wall Steve Jobs would like us to believe it is. It’s just a different kind of wall that many hackers haven’t tried climbing yet. It’s OS X not OS god!
Note: This post was put together using a beautiful, silver, 20" iMac running Leopard.