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Heartbleed, Mt. Gox Receive Pwnie Awards at Black Hat

The Pwnie Awards show is one of the highlights of the annual Black Hat security conference.

Black Hat Pwnie Awards

LAS VEGAS—One of the highlights at any Black Hat USA event is the annual Pwnie Awards show, which recognizes the best and the worst in the world of information security.

The name "Pwnie" comes from the hacker vernacular "to pwn," which is the process of taking over or owning a target. The actual award in the Pwnie show is a My Little Pony child's toy with an emblazoned Black Hat logo on its posterior.

While the Pwnie Awards have always been somewhat tongue-in-cheek, they have also long been a good reflection of the top trends in the security industry in a given year. For 2014, one word that was repeated often and across multiple categories was "Heartbleed."

The Heartbleed bug was first disclosed back in April and left hundreds of millions of users and sites at risk from a critical flaw in the OpenSSL open-source cryptographic library.

Heartbleed was nominated in multiple categories, including Best Server-Side Bug, Best Client-Side Bug and for Most Epic Fail. In the end, Heartbleed only won one Pwnie, for being the Best Server-Side Bug.

Neil Mehta, the Google security researcher who is credited with discovering the flaw, was in the audience and came up to receive his award. Security firm Codenomicon is also credited with independently discovering Heartbleed at the same time.

"I did it all just to win a Pwnie," Mehta said as the audience erupted into laughter.

The other big award at the Pwnies is for Epic Ownage. It's a category won by National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013. The 2014 award was given to Mt.Gox, the now-defunct Bitcoin exchange.

Mt. Gox collapsed in February, after being hacked and losing approximately $473 million in the process. The award for Epic Ownage wasn't given to Mt.Gox because it was hacked, but rather because it was able to convince people in the first place to trust it with their money.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.