Google patches WebKit flaw post Pwn2Own

Google Chrome

Google has patched a vulnerability exploited by researchers at last week's Pwn2Own hacking contest.

Even though Google Chrome was not hacked during the competition, the bug resided in WebKit - the rendering engine used by the browser.

WebKit is also featured in Apple's Safari and the browser found on BlackBerry phones.

A team of researchers, including Willem Pinckaers, Vincenzo Iozzo and Ralf-Philipp Weinmann, hacked a BlackBerry Torch 9800 by exploiting the vulnerability.

On top of the $15,000 (9,345) they received for the BlackBerry hack, the researchers were handed $1,337 from Google.

The update, in Google Chrome 10.0.648.133, only fixed the WebKit security issue.

The memory corruption bug was given a high priority ranking, but Google was not forthcoming on any additional details.

"Note that the referenced bugs may be kept private until a majority of our users are up to date with the fix," said Jason Kersey, from the Google Chrome team.

Google has handed out over $100,000 as part of its Chromium Security Rewards programme.

Politically motivated attacks

Meanwhile, Google warned a vulnerability affecting Internet Explorer (IE) users had been exploited in politically motivated attacks.

Google said its users had been targeted, but gave no further details on who the affected parties were. The tech giant said visitors to "another popular social site" had been targeted as well.

The bug in MIME HTML (MHTML) a protocol used by applications to render certain kinds of documents and bring together different content onto one HTML file - was publicly disclosed back in January.

When Microsoft offered a workaround for the zero-day vulnerability, no exploits had been seen in the wild.

"The abuse of this vulnerability is also interesting because it represents a new quality in the exploitation of web-level vulnerabilities," the Google Security Team said in a blog.

"To date, similar attacks focused on directly compromising users' systems, as opposed to leveraging vulnerabilities to interact with web services."

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.