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Google to offer $250,000 for Full VM Escape Zero-day Vulnerability

Google has unveiled kvmCTF, a new vulnerability reward program (VRP) explicitly targeting the Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) hypervisor.

This initiative, first announced in October 2023, underscores Google’s commitment to enhancing the security of foundational technologies like Linux and KVM, which are integral to many of its products, including Android and Google Cloud.

KVM, a robust hypervisor with over 15 years of open-source development, is widely used across consumer and enterprise landscapes.

Google, an active contributor to the KVM project, has designed kvmCTF as a collaborative platform for identifying and remediating vulnerabilities, thereby hardening this critical security boundary.

The program is similar to kernelCTF but focuses on zero-day vulnerabilities and previously unknown security flaws.

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Participants in kvmCTF will have access to a lab environment to log in and utilize their exploits to obtain flags.

The program will not reward exploits that use n-day vulnerabilities, ensuring the focus remains on discovering new, unpatched vulnerabilities.

Details regarding any discovered zero-day vulnerabilities will be shared with Google only after an upstream patch is released, ensuring that Google receives the information simultaneously with the rest of the open-source community.

Reward Tiers and Participation

The kvmCTF program offers substantial rewards for various levels of the following vulnerabilities:

  • Full VM escape: $250,000
  • Arbitrary memory write: $100,000
  • Arbitrary memory read: $50,000
  • Relative memory write: $50,000
  • Denial of service: $20,000
  • Relative memory read: $10,000

To facilitate the discovery of these vulnerabilities, kvmCTF provides the option of using a host with Kernel Address Sanitizer (KASAN) enabled, which helps identify memory errors.

Participants will engage in a controlled environment with a bare metal host running a single guest VM.

They can reserve time slots to access the guest VM and attempt guest-to-host attacks, aiming to exploit zero-day vulnerabilities in the KVM subsystem of the host kernel.

Successful attackers will obtain a flag as proof of their accomplishment, and the severity of the attack will determine the reward amount.

How to Get Involved

To participate in kvmCTF, interested individuals must read the program’s rules, which provide detailed information on reserving a time slot, connecting to the guest VM, and obtaining flags.

The rules also explain the mapping of various KASAN violations with the reward tiers and offer instructions on reporting a vulnerability.

Google’s kvmCTF initiative represents a significant step forward in the collaborative effort to secure open-source technologies.

By offering substantial rewards for discovering zero-day vulnerabilities, Google aims to engage the global security community in its mission to enhance the security and reliability of the KVM hypervisor, ultimately benefiting users worldwide.

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Author: Divya