The Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas is one of the largest of its kind on the planet, and as such the cachet of its annual awards, the Pwnies, is unrivaled in security circles. That is, of course, assuming you’re didn’t win the Pwnie for Most Epic Fail. Sorry Sony.
This year Sony, who shut down the Playstation Network for a whole month in the spring, was so completely and utterly considered a failure by security folks that there was no doubt the company would win. Even crazed Vegas gamblers couldn’t have bet against Sony’s win: the company’s security report card was so bad this year they were the only nominee.
The PSN debacle was what secured Sony the title. Shutting down the network completely for a whole month, with other services taking even longer to be brought back online, is a very lengthy period for anyone to find, analyze and patch a breach. Even sillier, Sony execs made it clear during the shutdown that the company had indeed already known about the vulnerability, but had assumed no one would be interested or be able to crack it. That type of complacency is what guarantees someone the Most Epic Fail Pwnie, not to mention the fact that the PSN breach allowed millions of users’ data to get stolen.
Public ridicule aside, the Pwnies also celebrate the best and brightest in the security industry. Unlike Sony, Norwegian security company Norman actually showed up to the event to celebrate researcher Tarjei Mandt who won the Pwnie for Best Privilege Escalation Bug. Mandt came up with his own method for exploiting the Windows kernel and found over 40 vulnerabilities. In another nod to Sony, famed console cracker Geohot, who’s previously pointed out vulnerabilities in the PS3, won the Pwnie for Best Song for a rap video he posted about his ongoing legal battle with the company.
Finally, the counterpart to the Most Epic Fail award is the Pwnie for Epic 0wnage. With a plethora of high-profile hacking cases this year, Anonymous, LulzSec, Bradley Manning and Wikileaks were all nominated for the award. But the Pwnie ended up going to Stuxnet, possibly the most sophisticated worm ever created. Fittingly, no one was around to accept the award because, well, we still don’t know who made it. Epic 0wnage indeed.
Photo via the Pwnie Awards