'Ethical hackers' are set to do battle with the Windows Vista, Linux and Mac OS X operating systems next week as part of an annual competition to see which is the more secure.

Hackers at CanSecWest 2008 will win a series of laptops if they can uncover an exploit in the operating systems, much as they did last year. Then two hackers uncovered a zero day QuickTime exploit that enabled them to gain access to a locked-down MacBook at the event. The flaw was found to work in the Windows operating systems too.

"The fur is flying right now about which is more secure: Linux, Vista or Leopard," CanSecWest organiser Dragos Rulu told ZDNet.

"Linux guys have their propaganda; Windows guys are saying this and that; Apple guys have buried their heads in the sand as usual."

CanSecWest 2008 starts on Monday 24th March.