Pwn2Own pitted security researchers against four Web browsers and four mobile platforms. A BlackBerry Torch 9800 running the latest version of the BlackBerry OS 6 was cracked because of a vulnerability in the WebKit browser rendering engine. Since RIM made the switch to WebKit for its mobile browser fairly recently, the exploit affects only devices running BlackBerry OS 6 and later.
WebKit is implemented by a number of mobile and desktop applications, including Apple’s iOS and Safari browser. Pwn2Own contestants also cracked Safari and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer using various WebKit vulnerabilities.
The BlackBerry exploit could access any user data stored in the media card or built-in storage, although e-mail, calendar and contacts data are safe, RIM said in its security advisory. The BlackBerry’s applications and application data are stored in a separate area the exploit can’t reach, RIM said.
Oddly enough, RIM said in its advisory that “the exploitation of the vulnerability was performed at the Pwn2Own 2011 contest and is publicly known.” Under contest rules, security researchers are forbidden from publicizing the details of the vulnerability or the exploit used because HP Tipping Point works with the vendor to fix the flaw. The claim that it is a publicly known exploit is also interesting considering that according to RIM there have also been no reports to the BlackBerry Security Incident Response Team about the hack being successfully exploited outside Pwn2Own’s closed environment.
If the browser is disabled entirely, the user will no longer have the BlackBerry Browser icon and will not be able to click on any links or browse to any pages, RIM added as a reminder.