Hackers hit New Zealand Herald website

Hackers hit New Zealand Herald website
Hackers hit New Zealand Herald website 

By Juha Saarinen
29 August 2007

The New Zealand Herald's website fell victim to a page spoofing stunt 
earlier today, by hackers wanting to publicise their upcoming Kiwicon 
security conference in November.

In this case, the spoofing meant the hackers displayed a parody of a 
Herald article to users, rather than a real one, when surfers called up 
an article on the future of the Internet.

"Metlstorm", one of the organisers of Kiwicon Wellington, says it's 
analogous to taping a fake article into a printed copy of the Herald, 
before giving the paper to a reader.

The bogus article was marked clearly as "a joke", he says, and contains 
"wildly unreasonable comment that no sane person would believe."

He is at pains to explain that the stunt is harmless and wasn't a real 
hack, in the sense of breaking into any systems.

Web developer Dylan Reeve of Bunker Media in Auckland says the hackers 
used an XSS, or cross-site scripting, bug to display their own content.

"After the page loads, the XSS bug is used to inject Javascript [a type 
of web-page programming language] that rewrites the article."

The spoof doesn't work in Internet Explorer 7, but Firefox 2.0 displays 
the bogus page, Reeve says.

The real page loads when accessed with Internet Explorer 6 too.

"Everything you see in the page is created in the user's web browser," 
Reeve adds. Nothing on the Herald server has been changed, says Reeve.

Asked if such a stunt can be dangerous, Reeve says at worst it can trick 
users into believing they're seeing something on a site that isn't in 
reality there.

The risk is limited however, according to Reeve, who says the URL or web 
link address that users follow has to be formatted in a very specific 

Earlier this month, the Computerworld newspaper, part of Fairfax 
Business Media, was spoofed in the same way by the Kiwicon hackers.

Stuff alerted the Herald Online to what has happened, and has been 
promised comment shortly.

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