iPad hack lets you download popular publications for free

NOTE: Neowin does not condone or support stealing content through exploiting software vulnerabilities. The process by which the below can be achieved will not be published on this website and may not be posted in the comments below.

Want to read Wired, the New Yorker, or another popular publication on your iPad for free? Well, it seems that you can.

According to the Huffington Post (via CrunchGear), the iPad has a security hole that allows anyone with a brain to freely download paid publications without dropping a cent. In just a few simple steps and a single word change, a user can make a bunch of publications show "download" instead of "buy." This will actually allow the user to download free of charge. The single word is located in a .plist file. Once changed from "purchasable" to "viewable" the iPad seems to be fooled into thinking that you don't have to pay to check out these apps. Similar types of vulnerabilities can be found with other, non-publication apps as well.

Adobe, who manages both the Wired and New Yorker iPad apps has told the Huffington Post that are very concerned about piracy issues on the iPad. In their statement, Adobe confirms the problem and vows to protect its content.

"We have confirmed that it is possible for experienced users with detailed instructions to access some digital publications on the iPad that have not been purchased. We are working on a fix and expect to deliver a new version of our Digital Content Viewer to publishers on Friday, October 8."

Seeing as it's already the 14th of October and the hack was still working a few days ago (when the Huffington Post posted their article), it would seem that the parties involved in the fix don't seem to be in too much of a rush. At the time of writing, no statement has been made by Apple. It seems that publishers will have to find a way to protect their content by their lonesome.

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36 Comments

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Seems a bit of a terrible security hole from Adobe for it to just be a plain text file, at least encrypt it a little bit, doesn't even have to be the whole file just the parts that stop things like this

Bad show Adobe

In the old days, information on the web was free. We should be trying to conserve this time honored tradition. I am willing to wager that most of you consider yourselves conservative, but have no interest in conserving very much at all.

Anyone who can afford to buy an ipad as opposed to a better computing device is wasting money and there buy can afford to buy there apps and should be branded and jailed as the criminals they are.

Sylar2010 said,
Anyone who can afford to buy an ipad as opposed to a better computing device is wasting money and there buy can afford to buy there apps and should be branded and jailed as the criminals they are.

lol. I can afford apps for my iPhone. Doesn't mean I'm going to pay for them.

owensd said,
Please... this isn't Apple's fault or a security hole. This is (more) bad programming from Adobe.

it's it's just adobe's fault why are other app providers also trying to find a solution for it? they make it sound like other apps use similar techniques

Come on Neowin, it's not "stealing", legally or otherwise. It's unauthorised copying. It doesn't sound as good (or bad, depending on your position) but it's accurate.

M2Ys4U said,
Come on Neowin, it's not "stealing", legally or otherwise. It's unauthorised copying. It doesn't sound as good (or bad, depending on your position) but it's accurate.
Continue justifying pirating to yourself.

It's hard to tell from the Huffington Post article, but it appears to be Adobe's vulnerability (real shocker).

This is a poor security implementation done by whoever made the Viewer, which appears to NOT be Apple in this case:

Managers of the Italian dailies told us they are investigating the problem, while people at Adobe -- which manages the ipad apps of the New Yorker and Wired -- wrote us they are "very concerned by piracy issues". ""We have confirmed that it is possible for experienced users with detailed instructions to access some digital publications on the iPad that have not been purchased. We are working on a fix and expect to deliver a new version of our Digital Content Viewer to publishers on Friday, October 8", an Adobe sposkesperson said.

pickypg said,

Yea I checked how it's done, it's a file you have to edit in certain apps, aka apps that are distributed using adobes viewer. Wondering if they did and leaked it to do a smear campaign against apple

Anything electronic can be reversed engineered. However the fact Apple hasn't moved on the bug kinda baffles me, it more like there afraid of bad press vs fixing the issue.

etempest said,
Anything electronic can be reversed engineered. However the fact Apple hasn't moved on the bug kinda baffles me, it more like there afraid of bad press vs fixing the issue.

Adobe... not Apple.

I know people will scream for this comment, but the more popular Apple gets, the more mistakes they will have brought out into the light like this very simple one

0sm3l said,
Adobe... not Apple.

The only thing Adobe in that article is the fact Adobe manages content for a group of people, they even said other apps have a similar problem... and the fact that it says apple hasn't commented on it and other publishers will have to find ways to protect their content, sounds like its an apple issue, not adobe specifically, just adobe is trying to find a way to stop it in their own code

"NOTE: Neowin does not condone or support stealing content through exploiting software vulnerabilities."

... but we're happy to link to somewhere that will tell you if you click through 2 links.

Ahh... the internet.

Webworldx said,
"NOTE: Neowin does not condone or support stealing content through exploiting software vulnerabilities."

... but we're happy to link to somewhere that will tell you if you click through 2 links.

Ahh... the internet.

When you have to source, you have to source...

Blasius said,

When you have to source, you have to source...


Its a double rule and its stupid. Should have left that lame neowin disclaimer out of it.

witalit said,

Its a double rule and its stupid. Should have left that lame neowin disclaimer out of it.

Exactly! Apple won't sue Neowin, they would lose all their Apple fanboys.

ccoltmanm said,
Quality Control has been missing at Apple for at least a year.

The article is very vague on just who is to blame, but I understood that this was a problem with Adobe's "Digital Content Viewer" used by Wired and The New Yorker, and not Apple's software.

asdavis10 said,

Its actually Adobe's vulnerability.

The problem seems to also exist with other publications that aren't Adobe based. The problem seems to be with more with Apple. At least that's how I understand it.

Edited by Benjamin Rubenstein, Oct 14 2010, 9:11pm :