Burger Menu Close Menu

NZ Herald Hack

This is a hack I made which allows you to bypass the "Premium" subscription on the nzherald.co.nz website.

This all started when I was looking through the NZHerald website one afternoon and I wanted to read an article but it turns out it was a "Premium" article which requires a subscription costing $5 a month.

A picture of the popup on premium articles on the NZ Herald

I then thought "Oh well, I guess I'll read something else..." until I had another thought, maybe this website was just as vulnerable as the Rewardia website that I had hacked recently. I noticed that a small section of the article was visible but just blurred which lead me to wonder whether the rest of the article had actually downloaded but was simply being hidden... Turns out, I was right. Upon inspecting the page using the firefox developer tools, I found the rest of the article was hidden in plain sight, easily accessible if the page was viewed with any other method (viewing in notepad).

Doing an inspect element on the NZ Herald website reveals that the rest of the article is hidden in plain sight.

The next immediate thought was to write a little script to un-hide these elements, I thought "this will be easy, I just have to un hide the elements using a couple lines of javascript and I'll be off.". This unfortunately was not the case, no sir-ey the developers at NZ Herald are being payed after all... They did have a special system setup to detect whenever one of these elements had become visible for any reason, at which point you would be redirected to their subscription registration page!!!

The subscription page I was redirected to after trying to make one of the hidden elements visible on NZ Herald

At this point I was a little stumped and it took me a while to inspect some of their code to find out how to bypass it... After quite a lot of playing around I found a solution that worked! It turns out what I had to do was make a copy of the entire article using javascript and simply append it onto the bottom of the page (any attempt of deleting the content resulted in redirecting to the subscription page so I couldn't clear the hidden article). This allowed me to read any premium article I wanted. I then just needed to package it all up into a nice convenient browser extension and I was done. A seamless hack that can be installed on any browser which allows anyone to read any NZ Herald Premium article!

NZ Herald premium article revealed using the hack.

As you can see from the picture, below the ad to buy premium is the actual article displayed...

Of course I cannot publish this hack nor can I use it myself for anything other than for testing purposes so I did contact NZ Herald about it and like the last time with rewardia I have still not heard anything back but I will update this article as soon as I hear anything.

I also made a video demonstrating the functionality of the hack: NZ Herald Hack Video

UPDATE (15/09/2020): I have sent another email to NZ Herald through a different email address which you can see here:

NZ Herald second email

Let's hope they actually respond...