Argus Systems, makers of the PitBull security software for Solaris, planned to highlight its 5th Argus Hacking Challenge at the Infosecurity Europe conference this week in London. However, a group of Polish hackers broke into the system, effectively winning the challenge before Argus ever made it to the conference.

According to Argus, PitBull, an intrusion prevention system, is "unlike common perimeter-based security products such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems. PitBull delivers security where it is needed most—within the OSs that control your most sensitive servers." Nonetheless, within the OS is exactly where the Polish hackers managed to break in.

In a published response to the break-in, Argus said that the hackers—who call themselves Last Stage of Delirium (LSD for short)—used a previously published bug in certain x86-based UNIX kernels, including Solaris x86, to exploit the system. Argus said that it didn't find the particular bug in its own analysis of the OS code, which took place before the company launched the challenge.

The LSD group's ability points out the need to stay on top of published security issues, especially when a security package must rely on an underlying OS to operate. Argus said that even though the exploit affected Solaris x86, such an attack can't affect any of Argus' customers because none of its users run PitBull on that OS.

A spokesperson for Argus said, "This successful exploit is concrete and dramatic validation of the message we have been trying to deliver to the market, namely: OS security is absolutely mandatory in today's environment. Users cannot even dream of securing their sites without immediate and appropriate consideration of OS security."