The Pwnie Awards is an annual awards ceremony celebrating the achievements and failures of security researchers and the security community.
The awards are given out once an year. The fifth annual ceremony will take place on Aug 3rd, 2011 in Las Vegas at the BlackHat USA security conference.
In 2011 there will be nine award categories:
- Pwnie for Best Server-Side Bug
- Pwnie for Best Client-Side Bug
- Pwnie for Best Privilege Escalation Bug
- Pwnie for Most Innovative Research
- Pwnie for Lamest Vendor Response
- Pwnie for Best Song
- Pwnie for Most Epic FAIL
- Pwnie for Lifetime Achievement
- Pwnie for Epic Ownage
Do you remember the hacking matrix I posted several days ago, emphasizing impact and innovation as two key factors in hacking? Well, it looks like the panel of the judges did recognized the value of these two factor (together with a certain amount of shallowness in case of Sony).
(Nearly) all the events drawn in the matrix, which happened in 2011 deserved a nominee for the prize, with the exception of Epsilon Data Breach, whose likely category, Most Epic Fail, has been literally monopolized by Sony with 5 nominations.
RSA deserved a nomination as well in the category “Lamest Vendor Response”, while the category Epic Ownage has been monopolized by LulzSec. Even if LulzSec has been appointed only once for “hacking everyone”, there is also a nomination for Anonymous for “hacking HBGary Federal”, probably this is a mistake since it looks clear that HBGary Federal was hacked by the Lulz Boat as well (as also ironically stressed by the LulzSec group itself).
The other two nominations for the Epic Ownage? Bradley Manning and Wikileaks (but I would also have inserted Lady Gaga since a fake Lady Gaga CD was used to perform the leak, and… most of all Stuxnet, who ranked at the top for impact an innovation in this matrix. Stuxnet is considered the first of a new generation of Cyber-weapons even if, so far, no other malware of similar sophistication has been detected (but U.S. Department of Homeland Security fears a modified Stuxnet variant could soon attack U.S. Infrastructure).
Interesting to notice, as suggested by Network World, whoever will win the Epic Ownage prize will be, in theory, a criminal for the law, consequently Law enforcement could be seriously interested to see if anyone actually shows up to this year to accept the prize for Epic Ownage at Black Hat, since all the nominees will face possible criminal charges.
At this link a complete list of the nominations.
Actually I cleaned it up a little bit in order to show only some of the events happened in 2011, which were inserted in the original matrix. As a reference I left some events of the previous years (inserted in the original matrix as well) in order to have a kind of normalization. They include the infamous Ufo Hacker, the Greek Cellphone Caper, and finally the Palin’s Email Hacking.
As you may easily notice, Stuxnet deserves the Top of the Rock for Innovation and Impact. The infamous malware (the terror the nuclear power plants) has divided the infosec community in different factions: those who consider the malware as the first example of next-gen cyber-weapons developed (maybe by Israel and the U.S.) to seriously damage and delay the Iranian nuclear program (whose development took at least ten years of work), or those who consider it the work of an amateur, a script kid, possibly an astronomer with knowledge of the Holy Bible. Regardless of the real origin, because of its huge exploitation of 0-day vulnerabilities (which make it really contagious) the malware has established a new level, and probably a new standard for the information security landscape.
The RSA breach ranks in a considerable position as well. As known, compromised seeds were used to attack several main contractors of U.S. Defense (L-3, at the beginning of April but disclosed at the end of May, Lockheed Martin, on May, the 22nd, and Northrop Grumman on May, the 26th). As I told in one few posts ago I am afraid that also the Mother of All Breaches, that is the breach of 24,000 files by a Contractor, happened in March but disclosed by Pentagon last week, may be somehow related to the RSA Breach. As a consequence of the latter breach, a classified US military weapons system will have to be redesigned. Because of the impact, this breach should also be included in the matrix.
Probably the effects of the Epsilon Data Breach have been underestimated, since it is likely that security concerns, in terms of phishing, for the owners of breached e-mail addresses will last for years.
Obviously the matrix could not miss the infamous Anonymous and LulzSec Hacking groups. Their actions are considered quite simple with a major impact for the Lulz Boat. The Anonymous group is perhaps unfairly considered only for DDoS, and probably the matrix was drawn before the events of the last days such as the Monsanto Hack performed by Anonymous (whose impact is quite huge and denotes a growing interest of the group towards social problems), or the Sun Hacking (at this link some technical details on the hack).
Finally a quick consideration, of course it is a coincidence, but I could not help noticing that the author of the Ufo Hack, Gary McKinnon, has been diagnosed with the Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of Autism. Curiously the same disease has been diagnosed to Ryan Cleary, the alleged LulzSec member arrested in U.K. on June, the 21st. Probably some individuals suffering of autism spectrum disorders establish with machines the links and relationships they are not able to establish with the other human beings. This explains in part why they are so able with hacking…
Again, thanks to Massimo for reporting this really interesting (and enjoying) link.
- The LulzSec Boat is Back (and sails under The SUN) (paulsparrows.wordpress.com)