You can’t watch DIRECTV without a subscription. You can’t copy the content off your DIRECTV DVR’s hard drive. Forget about even trying to transfer recordings from one receiver to another. I get it, those are some annoying limitations. But, at their core is the reason that DIRECTV Satellite TV works in the first place. That system is called VideoGuard and it’s so good that after 25 years it still hasn’t been hacked.
Why satellite TV works as a business
In order to understand the good and the bad of VideoGuard, you need to look back at the very early days of satellite TV in the United States. Satellite television as a business owes its life to a very liberal interpretation of broadcasting laws. When broadcasting was first imagined, there were two strict types. All broadcasts meant for consumers were to be 100% free and all receivers had to pull them in. All broadcasts for government use were private, and radios for them weren’t sold to consumers.
That sounded great in the 1930s but today’s reality is a little different. People figured out how to get the broadcasts they weren’t supposed to get, even those satellite broadcasts that different companies used to get their services across the country. By the 1980s there was a brisk business in big satellite dishes that let regular folks get a lot of free TV.
This endangered the profit model of a lot of big companies, and the government went to work. They passed laws that allowed companies to encrypt satellite signals and sell hardware and service to let you decrypt it. The entire home satellite TV industry is based on this principle.
VideoGuard was developed by a company called NDS. At one time this was a sister company to DIRECTV, when both were majority owned by News Corporation (which also owned Fox at the time.) NDS’s encryption system uses an access card and military-grade encryption to make sure that programming comes in and is stored securely.
DIRECTV has used VideoGuard for most of its existence, and it’s believed that the most current version used was developed in house. Of course that information is kept very secure.
Here’s what we do know
It all starts with the access card. The AT&T folks call it a “conditional access module.” The card has a keycode in it that is unique. It doesn’t belong to any other receiver. It’s not just the number, there’s encrypted information there as well.
Satellite TV is a one-way medium so there is a constant stream of data coming down from the satellite showing what each access card can let you watch. This same information is probably available over the internet but the system has to work even without internet service.
Your receiver looks to this stream. It then compares your access card number and the encrypted key to the package the stream says you have. That information is then used to let you watch the content you want.
All DIRECTV content is encrypted with strong, military-grade encryption. Using your access card number and the information from that satellite stream, on-board chips decrypt the signal in real time.
If you are using a DVR, we believe there is a second layer of encryption. The satellite signal itself is encrypted and the files that are on the DVR also seem to have a level of encryption that includes the access card number as well as the onboard receiver ID. You can’t just take a hard drive out of one DVR and put it in another one. Even if you use the same access card, the receiver IDs are different so you can’t watch anything.
Is this level of encryption really necessary?
I would have to say, yes. Without strong encryption, no content provider would let AT&T show their content. If you could just pull programs off the hard drive, you could make unlimited free copies and no one could charge for anything.
VideoGuard, at least AT&T’s version of it, has never been fully hacked. There have been several generations of access cards, each with fancier and fancier encryption. We also believe that since HD programming came in back in the 2000s, that it may also be more heavily encrypted. No one knows for sure since the whole system is so secure that it’s never been breached.
It is said that in the depths of AT&T’s Engineering labs there are what’s called “Engineering cards.” These are access cards that let you view every program available to you. It’s said there are very few of these, and that it’s practically impossible to get to them. Only one person I’ve spoken to has ever even seen one. Of course they’re very closely guarded — imagine if they got out into the wild.
What if VideoGuard were hacked?
I supposed it would depend on the level of the hack. It’s believed that access cards were hacked in the past and in that case you just issue all new access cards. I have a feeling that even if the entire system were hacked there’s probably some way in the software to rerandomize the keys or something. I am sure there’s a backup plan. With over 75 million receivers in use today, it would be catastrophic if the only option were replacing all of them. I just don’t see that happening.
Hack a Satellite Receiver
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How to setup old satellite receiver to pick up free digital channels
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How to unlock all premium channels free 2020 | unscramble paid channels
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ALL DISH TV PAID CHANNELS FREE FOR LIFE ON NEWSAT-I 100+ FULL 4K HD Satellite Receiver
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Power down the FTA receiver, and plug the USB flash drive into the USB port, located on the rear of the device. Turn the equipment on, and the FTA data files upload to the receiver, programming (“hacking”) the device in order for you to receive the latest FTA stations. Power down the FTA receiver, and plug the USB flash drive into the USB port, located on the rear of the device. Turn the equipment on, and the FTA data files upload to the receiver, programming (“hacking”) the device in order for you to receive the latest FTA stations.
Tutorial: DIRECTV SATELLITE DISH RECEIVER HACK. How to Hack an FTA Receiver. 918 views 0 0 Share. Press Menu button on your remote control and go to Settings and go to Ethernet Config from the submenu and press OK. Now from the Link Type menu Select Wifi Network. Now go to Config option press Ok from your remote control.
The receiver will detect your Wifi source, go to your source and press Ok from your Remote. This includes willingly hacking or the purchase of a receiver that comes ready to hack out of the box. If this occurs your post/thread will be removed or edited as the SatelliteGuys Staff see fit.
You will be warned, as sometimes users do not realize they are in grey areas or crossing them. Plz who can help me hack my data decoder. My number na 08064610034. Very urgent plz. Like Like.
Reply. Ibb says: July 12, 2017 at 9:37 am Plz who can help me hack my dstv decoder. My number na 08064610034. Very urgent plz. Like Like.
Reply. Simon Kamau Blog. FTA Satellite Dish 33″ with mounting hardware $70, HD ready KU band LNB $8, DVBS2 HD Generic FTA Receiver with HDMI $55, RG6 100ft Coaxial Cable $10. I decided not to install the dish on the side of the house but instead made a free standing base for the dish using 2x4’s.
How to set up an old RCA DirecTV satellite receiver for free Over The Air (OTA) digital channels, including high-definition. FTA es diferente de las antenas estándar Sobre el Aire (OTA, por sus siglas en inglés), ya que estas antenas sólo te proporcionan las estaciones locales, mientras que los equipos de satélite FTA son capaces de recibir cualquier señal de satélite no codificada de todo el mundo, independientemente de la ubicación actual del sistema. Home of all FTA receivers and Bin files!
Linkbox, DreamLink, Limsat, Jynxbox, IPTV, Pinwheel, Sonicview, Kodi, nFusion, XFTA, IKS Private Servers news. The Latest N3 News That You Can Use Everything N3 goes in this forum section: The Latest N3 News That You Can Use. Master code for satellite receivers.
It happens that once installed on the receiver “Parent Key” (code lock channels or functions of the receiver) will eventually be forgotten. No key no possibility to enter the menu of the receiver, set the new channels, to change the frequency, etc. What to do in this case?
In this tutorial, we’re going to unbox and review one of the best tv satellite receivers of this year that has almost everything: Samsat 5200 super mini hd.
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|from Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, 1999|
by Barry Leonard
DIANE Publishing Company, 1999
|from 5G Physical Layer Technologies|
by Mosa Ali Abu-Rgheff
|from Video Over IP: A Practical Guide to Technology and Applications|
by Wes Simpson
Focal Press, 2006
|from Detection of Intrusions and Malware, and Vulnerability Assessment: 16th International Conference, DIMVA 2019, Gothenburg, Sweden, June 19–20, 2019, Proceedings|
by Roberto Perdisci, Clémentine Maurice, et. al.
Springer International Publishing, 2019
Pirate decryption is the decryption, or decoding, of pay TV or pay radio signals without permission from the original broadcaster. The term "pirate" is used in the sense of copyright infringement. The MPAA and other groups which lobby in favour of intellectual property (specifically copyright and trademark) regulations have labelled such decryption as "signal theft" even though there is no direct tangible loss on the part of the original broadcaster, arguing that losing out on a potential chance to profit from a consumer's subscription fees counts as a loss of actual profit.
The concept of pay TV involves a broadcaster deliberately transmitting signals in a non-standard, scrambled or encrypted format in order to charge viewers a subscription fee for the use of a special decoder needed to receive the scrambled broadcast signal.
Early pay TV broadcasts in countries such as the United States used standard over-the-air transmitters; many restrictions applied as anti-siphoning laws were enacted to prevent broadcasters of scrambled signals from engaging in activities to harm the development of standard free-to-air commercial broadcasting. Scrambled signals were limited to large communities which already had a certain minimum number of unencrypted broadcast stations, relegated to certain frequencies. Restrictions were placed on access of pay TV broadcasters to content such as recent feature films in order to give free TV broadcasters a chance to air these programs before they were siphoned away by pay channels.
Under these conditions, the pay TV concept was very slow to become commercially viable; most television and radio broadcasts remained in-the-clear and were funded by commercial advertising, individual and corporate donations to educationalbroadcasters, direct funding by governments or license fees charged to the owners of receiving apparatus (the BBC in the UK, for example).
Pay TV only began to become common after the widespread installation of cable television systems in the 1970s and 1980s; early premium channels were most often movie broadcasters such as the US-based Home Box Office and Cinemax, both currently owned by Time Warner. Signals were obtained for distribution by cable companies using C-band satellite dish antennae of up to ten feet in diameter; the first satellite signals were originally unencrypted as extremely few individual end-users could afford the large and expensive satellite receiving apparatus.
As satellite dishes became smaller and more affordable, most satellite signal providers adopted various forms of encryption in order to limit reception to certain groups (such as hotels, cable companies, or paid subscribers) or to specific political regions. Early encryption attempts such as Videocipher II were common targets for pirate decryption as dismayed viewers saw large amounts of formerly-unencrypted programming vanishing. Nowadays some free-to-air satellite content in the USA still remains, but many of the channels still in the clear are ethnic channels, local over-the-air TV stations, international broadcasters, religious programming, backfeeds of network programming destined to local TV stations or signals uplinked from mobile satellite trucks to provide live news and sports coverage.
Specialty channels and premium movie channels are most often encrypted; in most countries, broadcasts containing explicit pornography must always be encrypted to prevent reception by those who wish children not to be exposed to this sort of content.
Initial attempts to encrypt broadcast signals were based on analogue techniques of questionable security, the most common being one or a combination of techniques such as:
- Weakening or attenuating specific portions of the video signal, typically those required to maintain synchronization.
- Inverting video signals so that white becomes black (and vice versa).
- Adding an interfering signal at one specific frequency which could be simply filtered out at a suitably equipped receiver.
- Moving the audio portion of the signal to some other frequency or sending it in a non-standard format.
These systems were designed to provide decoders to cable operators at low cost; a serious tradeoff was made in security. Some analogue decoders were addressable so that cable companies could turn channels on or off remotely, but this only gave the cable companies control of their own descramblers — valuable if needed to deactivate a stolen cable company decoder but useless against hardware designed by signal pirates.
The first encryption methods used for big-dish satellite systems used a hybrid approach; analogue video and digital encrypted audio. This approach was somewhat more secure, but not completely free of problems due to piracy of video signals.
Direct broadcast satellites and digital cable services, because of their digital format, are free to use more robust security measures such as the Data Encryption Standard (DES) or the RSA and IDEA digital encryption standards. When first introduced, digital DBS broadcasts were touted as being secure enough to put an end to piracy once and for all. Often these claims would be made in press releases.
The enthusiasm was short-lived. In theory the system was an ideal solution, but some corners had been cut in the initial implementations in the rush to launch the service. The first US DirecTV smart cards were based on the BSkyBVideoCrypt card known as the Sky 09 card. The Sky 09 card had been introduced in 1994 as a replacement for the compromised Sky 07 card. The former had been totally compromised in Europe at the time (1995). The countermeasure employed by NDS Group, the designers of the VideoCrypt system was to issue a new smartcard (known as the Sky 10 card) that included an ASIC in addition to the card's microcontroller. This innovation made it harder for pirates to manufacture pirate VideoCrypt cards. Previously, the program in the Sky card's microcontroller could be rewritten for other microcontrollers without too much difficulty. The addition of an ASIC took the battle between the system designers and pirates to another level and it bought BSkyB at least six months of almost piracy-free broadcasting before the pirate Sky 10 cards appeared on the market in 1996. Initial pirate Sky 10 cards had an implementation of this ASIC but once supplies ran out, pirates resorted to extracting the ASICs from deactivated Sky cards and reusing them.
The first US DirecTV "F" card did not contain an ASIC and it was quickly compromised. Pirate DirecTV cards based on microcontrollers that were often ironically more secure than that used in the official card became a major problem for DirecTV. Similar errors had been made by the developers of the UK's terrestrial digital Xtraview Encryption System, which provided no encryption and relied on hiding channels from listings.
The DirecTV "F" card was replaced with the "H" card, which contained an ASIC to handle decryption. However, due to similarities between the "H" and other existing cards, it became apparent that while the signal could not be received without the card and its ASIC, the card itself was vulnerable to tampering by reprogramming it to add channel tiers or additional programming, opening TV channels to the prying eyes of the pirates.
Two more card swaps would be necessary before the piracy headaches at DirecTV would finally go away; a number of other providers are also in the middle of swapping out all of their subscribers' smartcards due to compromised encryption methods or technology.
A number of vulnerabilities exist even with digital encryption:
- The same algorithm is used, potentially, for millions of subscribed receivers and or smartcards. The designers have the choice of using their own custom, secret algorithm or using a publicly tested one. The first approach is often referred to as security by obscurity. It can work well if the technology and the algorithm are robust. This approach also has a hidden catch for any potential pirate in that he would have to understand and emulate the custom algorithm in order to implement a pirate device.
- With many digital TV encryption systems relying on smartcards for their security, any compromise of the smartcard would require a complete replacement of all smartcards being used. That could potentially involve the replacement of millions of smartcards. On a system with a low number of subscribers, the smartcards can be replaced periodically. However, as the number of subscribers grows, the cost of replacing the smartcards and the logistics of the replacement encourages the system users to try to get the longest use out of the smartcards before replacement. The chances of a fatal compromise on the smartcard increases as the time between replacement increases.
- Any compromise of the smartcard or algorithm will become public quickly. Computers and Internet can be used to make crucial design details publicly available. Internet sites may be located offshore in countries where local laws permit the information and software to be distributed openly; some of the more notorious software distributed to pirates ranges from NagraEdit (a program intended to edit the information stored on Swiss-designed Kudelski NagraVision 1 smartcards) to firmware which may be used to reprogram some free-to-air set-top boxes or desktop PCs equipped with Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) tuner cards to permit them to decode encrypted broadcasts.
- The secrecy of any algorithm is only as trustworthy as the people with access to the algorithm; if any of them were to divulge any of the design secrets, every card with the compromised algorithm may need to be replaced for security to be restored. In some cases, outside personnel (such as those employed by lawyers in the NDS vs. DirecTV intellectual propertylawsuit over the P4 card design) may obtain access to key and very sensitive information, increasing the risk of the information being leaked for potential use by pirates.
- If less secure encryption is used due to processor limitations on the smartcards, the system is vulnerable to cryptographic attack using distributed processing. While most secure Internet and online banking transactions require 128-bit encryption, 56-bit codes are not uncommon in video encryption. A cryptographic attack against a 56-bit DES code would still be prohibitively time-consuming on a single processor. A distributed approach in which many users each run software to scan just a portion of the possible combinations, then upload results to one or more central points on a network such as the Internet, may provide information of value to pirates who wish to break security. Distributed processing attacks were used, successfully in some cases, against the D2-MAC/EuroCrypt system used in Europe during the 1990s.
- The resources available for reverse engineering increase significantly if a direct competitor with smartcard manufacturing knowledge were to attempt to maliciously compromise the system. Integrated circuits may be vulnerable to microprobing or analysis under an electron microscope once acid or chemical means have been used to expose the bare silicon circuitry. One lawsuit has already been launched by Canal+, dropped as the result of the one billion Euro deal to sell TelePiu (Italy), then continued by Echostar (USA). The suit alleged that competitor NDS Group had maliciously used reverse engineering to obtain the computer programs contained within various pay-TV smartcards (including SECA and Nagra cards) and allowed the results to be posted to Internet sites such as the notorious DR7.com.
On May 15, 2008, a jury in the Echostar vs NDS civil lawsuit (8:2003cv00950) awarded Echostar just over US$1,500 in damages; Echostar originally sought $1 billion in damages from NDS. However, a jury was not convinced of the allegations Echostar had made against NDS and awarded damages only for the factual claims that were proven and for which the jury believed an award should be given in accordance with the laws of the United States.
- The signals moving between the smartcard and the receiver can be easily intercepted and analyzed. They can be vulnerable to a "glitch" by which the incoming power and clock signals are disrupted for a short and carefully timed length of time (such as a millionth of a second) in order to cause the processor to skip an instruction. In many cases, off-the-shelf hardware with modified firmware designed to exploit this weakness was sold to pirates for use in tampering with cards for the US-based DirecTV system.
- In some cases, buffer overflow exploits have been used to gain access to otherwise locked cards in order to reprogram them.
- A scheme to monitor the exact instantaneous power consumption of smartcards as they make their computations also provides clues as to what type of computations are being performed.
In some cases, fraudulent cloning has been used to assign identical serial numbers to multiple receivers or cards; subscribe (or unsubscribe) one receiver and the same programming changes appear on all of the others. Various techniques have also been used to provide write protection for memory on the smartcards or receivers to make deactivation or sabotage of tampered cards by signal providers more difficult.
Systems based on removable smartcards do facilitate the implementation of renewable security, where compromised systems can be repaired by sending new and redesigned cards to legitimate subscribers, but they also make the task of replacing smartcards with tampered cards or inserting devices between card and receiver easier for pirates. In some European systems, the conditional-access module (CAM) which serves as a standardized interface between smartcard and DVB receiver has also been targeted for tampering or replaced by third-party hardware.
Improvements in hardware and system design can be used to significantly reduce the risks of any encryption system being compromised, but many systems once thought secure have been proven vulnerable to sufficiently sophisticated and malicious attackers.
Two-way communication has also been used by designers of proprietary digital cable TV equipment in order to make tampering more difficult or easier to detect. A scheme involving the use of a high-pass filter on the line to prevent two-way communication has been widely promoted by some unscrupulous businesses as a means of disabling communication of billing information for pay-per-view programming but this device is effectively worthless as a cable operator remains free to unsubscribe a digital set-top box if two-way communication has been lost. As a device intended to pass signals in one direction only, the line filters offer nothing that couldn't be done (with the same results) by an inexpensive signal booster - a simple one-way RF amplifier already widely available cheaply and readily for other purposes. Also, many such boxes will disallow access to pay-per-view content after a set number of programs are watched before the box can transmit this data to the headend, further reducing the usefulness of such a filter.
Terminology and Definitions
Some of the terminology used to describe various devices, programs and techniques dealing with Pay-TV piracy is named for the particular hacks. The "Season" interface for example is named after the Season7 hack on Sky TV which allowed a PC to emulate a legitimate Sky-TV smartcard. The Season7 referred to the seventh and final season of Star Trek: The Next Generation which was then showing on Sky One. The "Phoenix" hack was named after the mythical bird which can reanimate itself. The hack itself reactivated smartcards that had been switched off by the providers.
Some of the terminology used on Internet discussion sites to describe the various devices, programs and techniques used in dealing with video piracy is strange, non-standard, or specific to one system. The terms are often no different from the brand names used by legitimate products and serve the same function.
ISO/IEC 7816 smartcard terminology
- ATR is the answer-to-reset data from an ISO/IEC 7816-compliant smartcard. A card reader would provide power, clock and reset signals to a smartcard, along with a bidirectional serial data interface to permit communication. On reset, the card would send a standard block of serial data (nominally at 9600 bit/s) to identify the card type and indicate the desired bitrate for further communication. The frequency of clock to be supplied may vary from one system or card type to another as it appears not to have been specified in the ISO standard.
- A smart card reader is a device that allows a computer to communicate with a smartcard. Technically, these are simple devices consisting of a smartcard socket, some voltage level conversion circuitry and a crystal oscillator to supply the card with its clock signal. Early models were connected to the serial port on computers so the interface circuitry had to convert between the ISO/IEC 7816 card voltage levels and the RS-232 voltage levels used by the computer's serial port. More recent models use a USB connection to the computer. The simplest of earlier devices was the Phoenix interface. More sophisticated readers are often used in systems where the personal computer itself is to be secured using smartcard systems.
- AVR and ATmega are trade names for a series of general-purpose 8-bit microcontroller chips manufactured by Atmel Corporation. The terms have been misused widely to refer to blank smartcards or various other hardware devices which were built around these processors. The widely available European funcard series of blank generic ISO/IEC 7816 smartcards were based upon the Atmel processor series; there was also a PIC card based on the Microchip Corporation PIC series of processors.
- Emulation refers to the use of a personal computer in place of a smartcard using an ISO/IEC 7816-compatible "Season" interface. The PC, as far as the decoder is concerned, becomes a legitimate smartcard due to the program running on it. The program responds like a legitimate smartcard. Sometimes, for development purposes, the PC is programmed to simulate the entire instruction set of the smartcard's microcontroller to allow smartcard code to be developed more readily. As some encryption systems require an application-specific IC (ASIC) on the card to perform decryption, a pirate would also use a card which had been "auxed" (reprogrammed to pass received computer data directly to the application-specific decryption chip) in order to employ such an emulation system. Alternatively, pirates can sometimes emulate the functionality of the ASIC itself to gain access to the encrypted data.
- A looped smartcard is one where defective or malicious program code written to non-volatile memory causes the smartcard's microcontroller to enter an endless loop on power-up or reset, rendering the card unusable. This is typically a countermeasure used by encryption system owners to permanently deactivate smartcards. In many cases, not even the ISO/IEC 7816 ATR message would be sent. Unloopers were smartcard repair stations intended to cause the card to skip one or more instructions by applying a "glitch" in some form to the power or clock signal in the hope of allowing the smartcard's microcontroller to exit from the endless loop.
- Bootloaders were hardware which used a similar "glitch" to break a card out of an endless loop on power-up each time the card was used; these did not provide any smartcard reprogramming ability. These could permit DirecTV "H" cards (now no longer in use) to operate despite the permanent damage done by malicious code during the "Black Sunday" attack of 2001. These devices are currently believed to be obsolete.
Receiver (IRD) and microprocessor terminology
- DVB is an international standard for digital video broadcasting used by virtually all European broadcasters; some North American providers use incompatible proprietary standards such as DSS (DirecTV) or DigiCipher (Motorola) which predate the DVB standardisation effort. The packet size, tables and control information transmitted by proprietary systems require proprietary non-DVB receivers, even though the video itself nominally in some form will often still adhere to the MPEG-2 image compression standard defined by the Moving Picture Experts Group.
- An IRD is an integrated receiver-decoder, in other words a complete digital satellite TV or radio receiver; "decoder" in this context refers not to decryption but to the decompression and conversion of MPEG video into displayable format.
- FTA is often used to refer to receivers and equipment which contain no decryption hardware, built with the intention of being able to receive unencrypted free-to-air broadcasts; more properly FTA refers to the unencrypted broadcasts themselves.
- A CAM or conditional-access module is defined by the DVB standard as an interface between a standardised DVB Common Interface receiver and one or more proprietary smartcards for signal decryption. It is not the smartcard itself. The standard format of this module follows PCMCIA specifications; some receivers bypass the requirement for a separate module by providing embedded CAM functionality in the receiver to communicate with specific proprietary smartcards such as Nagravision, Conax, Irdeto, Viaccess, Betacrypt. In the North American market, most "package receivers" sold by signal providers provide embedded CAM operation; terminology is therefore often misused to misidentify the smartcard as a CAM.
- JTAG is a standard test interface defined by the Joint Test Action Group and supported on many late-model digital receivers for factory test purposes. Operating using a six-wire interface and a personal computer, the JTAG interface was originally intended to provide a means to test and debug embedded hardware and software. In the satellite TV world, JTAG is most often used to obtain read-write access to nonvolatile memory within a digital receiver; initially programs such as Wall and JKeys were used to read box keys from receivers with embedded CAMs but JTAG has since proven its legitimate worth to satellite TV fans as a repair tool to fix receivers where the firmware (in flash memory) has been corrupted.
- The Sombrero de Patel is another device used to obtain direct memory access to a receiver without physically removing memory chips from the board to place them in sockets or read them with a specialized device programmer. The device consists of a standard PLCC integrated circuitsocket which has been turned upside-down in order to be placed directly over a microprocessor already permanently soldered to a printed circuit board in a receiver; the socket makes electrical contact with all pins of the microprocessor and is interfaced to one or more microcontrollers which use direct memory access to pause the receiver's microprocessor and read or write directly to the memory. The term sombrero is used for this hack as the novel use of an inverted IC socket somewhat resembles a hat being placed upon the main processor.
"Satellite piracy" redirects here. For other uses, see Pirate (disambiguation).
Smart card piracy involves the unauthorised use of conditional-access smart cards, in order to gain, and potentially provide to others, unauthorised access to pay-TV or even private media broadcasts. Smart card piracy generally occurs after a breach of security in the smart card, exploited by computer hackers in order to gain complete access to the card's encryption system.
Once access has been gained to the smart card's encryption system, the hacker can perform changes to the card's internal information, which in turn tricks the conditional-access system into believing that it has been allowed access, by the legitimate card provider, to other television channels using the same encryption system. In some cases, the channels do not even have to be from the same television provider, since many providers use similar encryption systems, or use cards which have the capacity to store information for decoding those channels also. The information on how to hack the card is normally held within small, underground groups, to which public access is not possible. Instead, the hacking groups may release their hack in several forms. One such way is simply to release the encryption algorithm and key. Another common release method is by releasing a computer program which can be used by the smart card user to reprogram their card. Once complete, the now illegally modified smart card is known as a "MOSC." (Modified Original Smart Card). A third such method, more common in recent times, is to sell the information gained on the encryption to a third party, who will then release their own smart card, such as the K3 card. This third party, for legal reasons, will then use a fourth party to release encrypted files, which then allow the card to decode encrypted content.
Along with modifying original cards, it is possible to use the information provided by the smart card to create an encryption emulator. This, in turn, can be programmed into a cable or satellite receiver's internal software, and offered for download on the internet as a firmware upgrade. This allows access to the encrypted channels by those who do not even own a smart card. In recent times, many underground forum websites dedicated to the hobby of satellite piracy and encryption emulated Free To Air (FTA) receivers have been set up, giving up-to-date information on satellite and cablepiracy, including making available firmware downloads for receivers, and very detailed encryption system information available to the public.
Upon gaining the knowledge that their system has been compromised, the smart card providers often have several counter measure systems against unauthorised viewing, which can be put in place over the air, in most cases causing virtually no disruption to legitimate viewers. One such measure is CI revocation. The simplest form of counter measure is a key change. This simply halts viewing for those viewing without authorisation temporarily, since the new key can easily be accessed in the hacked card, and implemented. There are often other more complicated procedures which update a part of the smart card in order to make it inaccessible. These procedures can also, however, be hacked, once again allowing access. This leads to a game of "cat and mouse" between the smart card provider, and the hackers. This, after several stages of progression, can leave the smart card provider in a situation where they no longer have any further counter measures to implement. This leaves them in a situation where they must perform a card and encryption change with all legitimate viewers, in order to eliminate the viewing of the service without permission, at least for the foreseeable future.
Such has been the success of implementing new smart card systems, that another form of smart card piracy has grown in popularity. This method is called card sharing, which works by making available the smart card decoding information in real time to other users, via a computer network. Police monitoring of unsecured card sharing networks has led to prosecutions.
Virtually every common encryption system is publicly known to have been compromised. These include Viaccess, Nagravision, SECA Mediaguard and Conax. The MediaCipher system, owned by Motorola, along with Scientific Atlanta's PowerKEY system, are the only digital TV encryption systems which have not publicly been compromised. This is largely thanks to there being no PC cardconditional-access modules (CAMs) available for either encryption system.
Despite the unauthorised decryption of media being illegal in many countries, smart card piracy is a crime which is very rarely punished, due to it being virtually undetectable, particularly in the case of satellite viewing. Laws in many countries do not clearly specify whether the decryption of foreign media services is illegal or not. This has caused much confusion in places such as Europe, where the proximity of many countries, coupled with the large land mass covered by satellite beams, allows signal access to many different providers. These providers are reluctant to pursue criminal charges against many viewers as they live in different countries. There have, however, been several high-profile prosecution cases in the USA, where satellite dealers have been taken to court resulting in large fines or jail time.
Internet key sharing
Main article: card sharing
An Internet key sharing scheme consists of one smart card with a valid, paid subscription which is located on an Internet server. It generates a stream of real-time decryption keys which are broadcast over the Internet to remotely located satellite receivers. Limiting factors in the number of remotely located satellite receivers are the network latency and the period between the updated keys and the ability of the card client's receiver to use the decrypted key stream.
Each receiver is configured in an identical manner, a clone receiving the same television signal from a satellite and, from the internet server, the same decryption keys to unlock that signal. As the server must have individually subscribed smart cards for each channel to be viewed, its continued operation tends to be costly and may require multiple subscriptions under different names and addresses. There is also a risk that as the number of card clients on the card sharing network grows, it will attract the attention of the satellite TV service provider and law enforcement agencies and the monitoring of IP addresses associated with this card sharing network may identify individual users and server operators who then become targets for legal action by the satellite TV service provider or by legal authorities.
Key sharing schemes are typically used where replacement of compromised smart card systems (such as the deprecation of Nagra 1/2 in favour of Nagra 3) has made other pirate decryption methods non-functional.
In February 2014, an episode of BBC's "Inside Out" disclosed that the complete Sky TV package could be obtained from black-market sources for as little as £10 per month through Internet key sharing, Swansea and Cardiff were highlighted with significant activity in pubs using cracked boxes to show Premier League football.
In some countries such as Canada and many Caribbean nations (except for the Dominican Republic), the black market in satellite TV piracy is closely tied to the gray market activity of using direct broadcast satellite signals to watch broadcasts intended for one country in some other, adjacent country. Many smaller countries have no domestic DBS operations and therefore few or no legal restrictions on the use of decoders which capture foreign signals.
The refusal of most providers to knowingly issue subscriptions outside their home country leads to a situation where pirate decryption is perceived as being one of the few ways to obtain certain programming. If there is no domestic provider for a channel, a grey market (subscribed using another address) or black market (pirate) system is prerequisite to receive many specific ethnic, sport or premium movie services.
Pirate or grey-market reception also provides viewers a means to bypass local blackout restrictions on sporting events and to access hard-core pornography where some content is not otherwise available.
The grey market for US satellite receivers in Canada at one point was estimated to serve as many as several hundred thousand English-speaking Canadian households. Canadian authorities, acting under pressure from cable companies and domestic broadcasters, have made many attempts to prevent Canadians from subscribing to US direct-broadcast services such as AT&T's DirecTV and Echostar's Dish Network.
While litigation has gone as far as the Supreme Court of Canada, no judicial ruling has yet been made on whether such restrictions violate the safeguards of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which are intended to protect freedom of expression and prevent linguistic or ethnic discrimination. Domestic satellite and cable providers have adopted a strategy of judicial delay in which their legal counsel will file an endless series of otherwise-useless motions before the courts to ensure that the proponents of the grey-market systems run out of money before the "Charter Challenge" issue is decided.
According to K. William McKenzie, the Orillia Ontario lawyer who won the case in the Supreme Court of Canada, a consortium headed by David Fuss and supported by Dawn Branton and others later launched a constitutional challenge to defeat section 9(1)(c) of the Radiocommunication Act on the basis that it breached the guarantee of Freedom of Expression enshrined in section 2 (c) of the Canadian Charter of Rights.
The evidence compiled by Mr. McKenzie from his broadcasting clients in opposition to this challenge was so overwhelming that it was abandoned and the Court ordered that substantial costs be paid by the applicants.
In most cases, broadcast distributors will require a domestic billing address before issuing a subscription; post boxes and commercial mail receiving agencies are often used by grey-market subscribers to foreign providers to circumvent this restriction.
The situation in the US itself differs as it is complicated by the legal question of subscriber access to distant local TV stations. Satellite providers are severely limited in their ability to offer subscriptions to distant locals due to the risk of further lawsuits by local affiliates of the same network in the subscribers home designated market area. California stations have sued satellite providers who distributed New York signals nationally, as the distant stations would have an unfair advantage by broadcasting the same programming three hours earlier.
There is also a small "reverse gray market" for Canadian signals, transmitted with a footprint which sends full-strength DBS signals to many if not all of the contiguous 48 US states. This is desirable not only to receive Canadian-only content, but because some US-produced programs air in Canada in advance of their US broadcast. The question of signal substitution, by which Canadian cable and satellite providers substitute the signal of a local or domestic channel over a foreign or distant channel carrying the same program, is rendered more complex by the existence of a reverse grey market. Signal substitution had already been the cause of strong diplomatic protests by the United States, which considers the practice to constitute theft of advertising revenue.
The lack of domestic competition for premium movie channels in Canada is one factor encouraging grey-market reception; language is another key issue as most Spanish-language programming in North America is on the US system and most French-language programming is on the Canadian system. A larger selection of sports and ethnic programming is also available to grey-market subscribers.
It could be said that the 1000-channel universe is a "reality" in North America, but only for the signal pirates as many legal and geographic restrictions are placed on the ability to subscribe to many if not most of the physically available channels.
Other countries such as Nicaragua during Sandinista rule, Cuba, Iran (Islamic Republic of Iran) and Afghanistan during Taliban rule and Iraq during the Saddam Hussein regime, have attempted to prohibit their citizens from receiving any satellite broadcasts from foreign sources.
The situation in Europe differs somewhat, due to the much greater linguistic diversity in that region and due to the use of standardized DVB receivers capable of receiving multiple providers and free-to-air signals. North American providers normally lock their subscribers into "package receivers" unable to tune outside their one package; often the receivers are sold at artificially low prices and the subscription cost for programming is increased in order to favour new subscribers over existing ones. Providers are also notorious for using sales tactics such as bundling, in which to obtain one desired channel a subscriber must purchase a block of anywhere from several to more than a hundred other channels at substantial cost.
Many European companies such as British Sky Broadcasting prohibit subscriptions outside the UK and Ireland. But other satellite providers such as Sky Deutschland do sell yearly subscription cards legally to customers in other European countries without the need for an address or other personal information. The latter also applies to virtually all the Adult channel cards sold in Europe.
The Middle East emerged in the picture with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In July 2019, global football authorities of various competitions collectively condemned a pirate broadcasting channel of Saudi Arabia, BeoutQ. The right holders running Premier League, FIFA World Cup and UEFA Champions League called on the authorities of the Arab nation to halt the operations of its homegrown pirate TV and broadcasting service, which is involved in illegal streaming of matches internationally.
BeoutQ emerged in 2017, and since has been widely available across Saudi Arabia. However, the country denied that it is based in Riyadh, stating that the authorities are committed to fighting piracy. In February 2015, several sports bodies and broadcasters, including the U.S. National Basketball Association, U.S. Tennis Association and Sky demanded the United States to add Saudi Arabia its “Priority Watch List” over TV piracy. It was in April 2019, when Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) released a report placing Saudi Arabia on the Watch List.
A number of strategies have been used by providers to control or prevent the widespread pirate decryption of their signals.
One approach has been to take legal action against dealers who sell equipment which may be of use to satellite pirates; in some cases the objective has been to obtain lists of clients in order to take or threaten to take costly legal action against end-users. Providers have created departments with names like the "office of signal integrity" or the "end-users group" to pursue alleged pirate viewers.
As some equipment (such as a computer interface to communicate with standard ISO/IEC 7816 smartcards) is useful for other purposes, this approach has drawn strong opposition from groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation. There have also been US counter-suits alleging that the legal tactics used by some DBS providers to demand large amounts of money from end-users may themselves appear unlawful or border on extortion.
Much of the equipment is perfectly lawful to own; in these cases, only the misuse of the equipment to pirate signals is prohibited. This makes provider attempts at legal harassment of would-be pirates awkward at best, a serious problem for providers which is growing due to the Internet distribution of third-party software to reprogram some otherwise legitimate free-to-air DVB receivers to decrypt pay TV broadcasts with no extra hardware.
US-based Internet sites containing information about the compromised encryption schemes have also been targeted by lawyers, often with the objective of costing the defendants enough in legal fees that they have to shut down or move their sites to offshore or foreign Internet hosts.
In some cases, the serial numbers of unsubscribed smartcards have been blacklisted by providers, causing receivers to display error messages. A "hashing" approach of writing arbitrary data to every available location on the card and requiring that this data be present as part of the decryption algorithm has also been tried as a way of leaving less available free space for third-party code supplied by pirates.
Another approach has been to load malicious code onto smartcards or receivers; these programs are intended to detect tampered cards and maliciously damage the cards or corrupt the contents of non-volatile memories within the receiver. This particular Trojan horse attack is often used as an ECM (electronic countermeasure) by providers, especially in North America where cards and receivers are sold by the providers themselves and are easy targets for insertion of backdoors in their computer firmware. The most famous ECM incident was the Black Sunday attack launched against tampered DirecTV "H" on 3 January 21, 2001 and intended to destroy the cards by overwriting a non-erasable part of the cards internal memory in order to lock the processor into an endless loop.
The results of a provider resorting to the use of malicious code are usually temporary at best, as knowledge of how to repair most damage tends to be distributed rapidly by hobbyists through various Internet forums. There is also a potential legal question involved (which has yet to be addressed) as the equipment is normally the property not of the provider but of the end user. Providers will often print on the smartcard itself that the card is the property of the signal provider, but at least one legal precedent indicates that marking "this is mine" on a card, putting it in a box with a receiver and then selling it can legally mean "this is not mine anymore". Malicious damage to receiver firmware puts providers on even shakier legal ground in the unlikely event that the matter were ever to be heard by the judiciary.
The only solution which has shown any degree of long-term success against tampered smartcards has been the use of digital renewable security; if the code has been broken and the contents of the smartcard's programming widely posted across the Internet, replacing every smartcard in every subscriber's receiver with one of different, uncompromised design will effectively put an end to a piracy problem. Providers tend to be slow to go this route due to cost (as many have millions of legitimate subscribers, each of which must be sent a new card) and due to concern that someone may eventually crack the code used in whatever new replacement card is used, causing the process to begin anew.
Premiere in Germany has replaced all of its smartcards with the Nagravision Aladin card; the US DirecTV system has replaced its three compromised card types ("F" had no encryption chip, "H" was vulnerable to being reprogrammed by pirates and "HU" were vulnerable to a "glitch" which could be used to make them skip an instruction). Both providers have been able to eliminate their problems with signal piracy by replacing the compromised smartcards after all other approaches had proved to provide at best limited results.
Dish Network and Bell Satellite TV had released new and more tamper-resistant smart cards over the years, known as the ROM2, ROM3, ROM10, ROM11 series. All these cards used the Nagravision 1 access system. Despite introducing newer and newer security measures, older cards were typically still able to decrypt the satellite signal after new cards were released (A lack of EEPROM space on the ROM2 cards eventually led to them being unable to receive updates necessary to view programming). In an effort to stop piracy, as by this point the Nagravision 1 system had been thoroughly reverse-engineered by resourceful hobbyists, an incompatible Nagravision 2 encryption system was introduced along with a smart card swap-out for existing customers. As more cards were swapped, channel groups were slowly converted to the new encryption system, starting with pay-per-view and HDTV channels, followed by the premium movie channels. This effort culminated in a complete shutdown of the Nagravision 1 datastream for all major channels in September, 2005. Despite these efforts to secure their programming, a software hack was released in late August, 2005, allowing for the decryption of the new Nagravision 2 channels with a DVB-S card and a PC. Just a few months later, early revisions of the Nagravision 2 cards had been themselves compromised. Broadcast programming currently[when?] uses a simulcrypt of Nagravision 2 and Nagravision 3, a first step toward a possible future shutdown of Nagravision 2 systems.
Various groups have been targeted for lawsuits in connection with pirate decryption issues:
- In 2006, a decision in Snow v. DirecTV preserved the right of a private website owner to prohibit DirecTV from accessing an otherwise-public website run by plaintiff Michael Snow to serve anti-DirecTV activists.
- DirecTV (as the euphemistically-named "End Users Group") had engaged in widespread litigation against its own subscribers on the pretext that users who owned both a smartcard programmer and a DirecTV subscription were presumed to be using the equipment to unlock extra channels on the system. A hundred thousand users were harassed with repeated and legally-questionable demands seeking thousands of dollars per user.
- In 2004's DirecTV v. Treworgy, the Electronic Frontier Foundation helped establish that DirecTV cannot sue individuals for "mere possession" of smart-card technology, forcing the company to drop its "guilt-by-purchase" litigation strategy.
- "NagraStar" (a joint venture of Nagravision/Kudelski and DishNetwork/Echostar) has also targeted US end users with legal threats and demands for money.
- EchoStar, as parent of Dish Network, has sued manufacturers of FTA receivers, claiming that the manufacturers were aware of or complicit in the distribution of aftermarket software which unlocks channels transmitted with compromised encryption schemes. The company has also sued operators of websites which published information about the security issues.
- DirecTV has used the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the Federal Communications Act to target developers and distributors of software that allowed users to hack DirecTV's older generation access cards. One 2006 settlement in US federal case DirecTV and NDS vs. Robert Lazarra ended in a one million dollar out-of-court settlement.
- In 2009, the US Ninth Circuit court ruled in DirecTV, Inc v. Hoa Huynh, Cody Oliver against DirecTV's claim that inserting a smart card into preexisting television equipment constitutes "assembling" a pirate device. DirecTV cannot sue on this theory, dismissing DirecTV's attempt to punish individuals twice for a single offense and upholding a lower court decision that 47 U.S.C., section 605(e)(4) does not apply to individuals owning interception devices solely for personal use. This decision protects legitimate security researchers.
- DirecTV sued its smartcard vendor NDS, accusing News Data Systems of “breach of contract, fraud, breach of warranty and misappropriation of trade secrets” for its role in designing the now compromised H- and HU- series cards.
- Canal Plus and EchoStar have also sued NDS, alleging that the company reverse-engineered and leaked information about their providers' rival encryption schemes.
- Québécor-owned cable television operator Videotron sued Bell Satellite TV on the grounds that free signals from compromised satellite TV encryption unfairly cost the cable company paid subscribers. After multiple appeals and rulings against Bell, Québécor and TVA Group were ultimately awarded $141 million in 2015.
One of the most severe sentences handed out for satellite TV piracy in the United States was to a Canadian businessman, Martin Clement Mullen, widely known for over a decade in the satellite industry as "Marty" Mullen.
Mullen was sentenced to seven years in prison with no parole and ordered to pay DirecTV and smart card provider NDS Ltd. US$24 million in restitution. He pleaded guilty in a Tampa, Florida court in September 2003 after being arrested when he entered the United States using a British passport in the name "Martin Paul Stewart".
Mr. Mullen had operated his satellite piracy business from Florida, the Cayman Islands and from his home in London, Ontario, Canada. Testimony in the Florida court showed that he had a network of over 100 sub-dealers working for him and that during one six-week period, he cleared US$4.4 million in cash from re-programming DirecTV smartcards that had been damaged in an electronic counter measure.
NDS Inc. Chief of Security John Norris pursued Mullen for a decade in three different countries. When Mullen originally fled the United States to Canada in the mid-1990s, Norris launched an investigation that saw an undercover operator (a former Canadian police officer named Don Best) become one of Mullen's sub-dealers and his closest personal friend for over a year. In summer of 2003 when Mullen travelled under another identity to visit his operations in Florida, US federal authorities were waiting for him at the airport after being tipped off by Canadian investigators working for NDS Inc.
Ironically the NDS Group were accused (in several lawsuits) by Canal+ (dismissed as part of an otherwise-unrelated corporate takeover deal) and Echostar (now Dish Network) of hacking the Nagra encryption and releasing the information on the internet. The jury awarded EchoStar $45.69 actual damages (one month's average subscription fee) in Claim 3.
Bell Satellite TV (as Bell ExpressVu) was sued by Vidéotron, a Québécor-owned rival which operates cable television systems in major Québec markets. Québécor also owns TVA, a broadcaster. Bell's inferior security and failure to replace compromised smartcards in a timely fashion cost Vidéotron cable subscribers, as viewers could obtain the same content for free from satellite under the compromised Nagra1 system from 1999 to 2005; pirate decryption also deprived TVA's French language news channel LCN of a monthly 48¢/subscriber fee. The Superior Court of Quebec awarded $339,000 and $262,000 in damages/interest to Vidéotron and TVA Group in 2012. Québec's Appeal Court ruled these dollar amounts "erroneus" and increased them in 2015; despite an attempt to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, a final award of $141 million in damages and interest was upheld.
- ^mpaa.org, Motion Picture Association of America - Who Are Movie Thieves?
- ^Sullivan, Bob (2003-02-11). "Satellite TV hackers nabbed by FBI". NBC News. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
- ^Fiat, Amos; Tassa, Tamir. "Dynamic Traitor Tracing"(PDF). Tel Aviv University.
- ^"Pirated Sky TV sold for £10 a month". BBC News. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
- ^"World's football bodies urge Saudi Arabia to stop pirate TV service". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
- ^"NBA, U.S. Tennis, Sky, urge U.S. action on alleged Saudi TV piracy". Reuters. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
- ^"2019Special 301 Report"(PDF). Office of the United States Trade Representative. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
- ^"Snow v. DirecTV". Electronic Frontier Foundation. 21 September 2012. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
- ^CHICAGO TRIBUNE (2003-11-30). "DirecTV accuses thousands of signal theft". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
- ^"DirecTV in hot 'pirate' pursuit". Chicago Tribune. 2003-11-23. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
- ^"DirecTV dragnet snares innocent techies". The Register. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
- ^Soto, Onell R. (2004-08-15). "DirecTV lawsuits target piracy". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
- ^"Court Restricts DirecTV Lawsuits". Los Angeles Times. 2004-06-16. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
- ^Kevin Poulsen (2004-06-16). "Court clips DirecTV piracy suits". Securityfocus.com. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
- ^Fred von Lohmann (2004-06-15). "DirecTV Double Play". Electronic Frontier Foundation. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
- ^"DirecTV, NDS Reach Piracy Lawsuit Settlement". Satellite Today. 2006-12-11. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
- ^DirecTV, Inc., plaintiff-appellant v. Hoa Huynh, defendant-appellee DirecTV, Inc., plaintiff-appellant v. Cody Oliver : on appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California : brief of amicus curiae Electronic Frontier Foundation favoring affirmance (eBook, 2005). [WorldCat.org]. 2005-11-30. OCLC 755040093.
- ^ abSullivan, Bob (2002-10-01). "Pay-TV piracy flap intensifies". NBC News. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
- ^The Bryant Park Project (2008-04-28). "An Amazing Lawsuit: Direct TV vs. Dish Network". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
- ^ ab"Bell ExpressVu devra verser des millions à Vidéotron". Radio-Canada. 2015-05-22. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
Hack 2012 card directv
Now the allegations have surfaced again, this time with internal e-mails allegedly documenting a coordinated scheme to damage competitors to Murdoch’s media empire that was led by a former Israeli intelligence officer and former UK police officers working for the Murdoch firm. Their actions extended far beyond the original allegations, according to a BBC documentary and the Australian Financial Review.
The e-mails purport to show that security officers working for NDS were behind a piracy web site called The House of Ill Compute, or thoic.com, where hackers posted codes that allowed users to pirate pay-TV services for Murdoch competitors. The e-mails also purport to show that NDS withheld from one its clients, DirectTV, methods to fight widespread piracy at the same time Murdoch was attempting to buy the company.
NDS reportedly paid a hacker named Lee Gibling about $8,000 monthly to run the site, which garnered up to 2 million hits a day during its heyday in 2000.
NDS claims the site was just a honeypot to learn how pirates were scheming to defraud NDS and other satellite TV companies and says it never promoted piracy. But e-mails and interviews with sources indicate that after hackers posted codes on the site that were designed to hack smart cards used with pay-TV systems overseas, such as Canal Plus Technologies and OnDigital, NDS leaked the codes to other piracy sites to encourage their use among satellite thieves. NDS also is accused of reverse-engineering competitors’ cards with the aim of creating cracks for them.
NDS is a British-Israeli company and a majority-owned subsidiary of Murdoch’s News Corp. The company makes access cards used by pay-TV systems to prevent piracy of satellite signals. The most prominent of its clients was DirecTV — itself a former Murdoch company.
NDS was the target of earlier hacking allegations that were part of a years-long lawsuit filed by Nagrastar and its parent company EchoStar, NDS’s chief competitor, which made access cards for EchoStar’s Dish Network and other runners-up in the market.
The case, which ended in 2008, involved a colorful cast of characters that included former intelligence agents, Canadian TV pirates, Bulgarian and German hackers, stolen e-mails and the mysterious suicide of a Berlin hacker who had been courted by the Murdoch company not long before his death.
It also involved a former U.S. hacker named Christopher Tarnovsky who worked for NDS and was accused of helping pirates steal services from NDS competitors.
According to allegations in the lawsuit, in the late ’90s NDS extracted and cracked the proprietary code used in Nagrastar’s cards, which NDS didn’t contest. But Nagrastar said that Tarnovsky then used the code to create a device for reprogramming Nagrastar cards into pirate cards, and gave the cards to pirates eager to steal Dish Network’s programming. Tarnovsky was also accused of posting to the internet a detailed road map for hacking Nagrastar’s cards.
The convoluted case raised more questions than it answered, but a jury in San Diego largely cleared NDS of piracy in that case, finding the company guilty of only a single incident of stealing satellite signals, for which Dish was awarded $1,500 in damages. EchoStar was instructed to pay $19 million in legal costs.
Tarnovsky, who sat for a lengthy interview with Wired.com following the verdict and demonstrated how he reverse-engineered smart cards like those used for satellite-TV (see video above), has always asserted his innocence.
But according to the Australian Financial Times, Tarnovsky was just one of many actors associated with a secretive group of former policemen and intelligence officers within News Corp known as Operational Security.
That group, the paper says, embarked on a coordinated plan to derail Murdoch’s pay-TV competitors in Australia and elsewhere by distributing crack codes for competitor’s satellite services. According to the paper, which has published internal emails from the group, their actions devastated Murdoch competitors such as DirecTV in the U.S., Telepiu in Italy and Austar in Australia, and allowed Murdoch to then try and swoop in to buy up the businesses at reduced costs.
Christopher Tarnovsky (born 20 April 1971, Nyack, New York) is an integrated circuitreverse engineering specialist or hacker who has come to public attention.
Life and career
In the 1990s, Tarnovsky was a soldier in the United States army in the field of intelligence, security and cryptography. From 1997 to 2007 he worked for NDS. He then started his own company, Flylogic, which he sold to IOActive in 2012. Until 2014 Tarnovsky was vice president of semiconductor services at IOActive. Tarnovsky has a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which gives him the ability to "hyper-focus" on projects for hours at a time.
In 2001, DirecTV, a client of NDS, a company majority owned by Rupert Murdoch's Newscorp, demanded Tarnovsky be kept away from their systems. Plaintiffs DirecTV, Dish Network and Nagrastar alleged Tarnovsky was hacking the protections they placed on their set-top box smart cards which were used to lock transmission from customers who defaulted.
From 1997 to 2007, Tarnovsky worked for NDS developing copy protection technology.
In 2002, Canal Plus, a French premium cable television commenced a civil action against NDS and Tarnovsky. Tarnovsky was alleged to have extracted the source code of a SECA card and then on 26 March 1999 uploaded it to a file sharing website. A jury later largely cleared NDS and Tarnovsky.
In 2007, Tarnovsky was dismissed from NDS for copyright infringement while in their employ. Tarnovsky denies this accusation.
Acts of hacking
In 2008, Tarnovsky broke into a Trusted Platform Module, a type of chip used in the Xbox 360 for example. Tarnovsky required nine months of study to discover the main contents of the module.
In 2010, at a Black HatWashington DC conference, Tarnovsky described how he had used acid, an electron microscope and small conductive needles to hack the Infineon SLE66 CL PE chip.
- ^Chenoweth N. Rupert Murdoch: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Media Wizard. Crown Business 12 November 2002. p. 353. ISBN 978-0609610381.
- ^ abcdefZetter K. From the Eye of a Legal Storm, Murdoch's Satellite-TV Hacker Tells All. Wired.com San Diego. 30 May 2008. Accessed 30 September 2015.
- ^Jun 14; Hacking, 2019 | Hardware; Talks, hardwear io USA 2019; Keynote | 0 (2019-06-14). "Sophisticated million dollar hack, to discover weaknesses in a series of smartcards affecting millions". Media Center | hardwear.io. Retrieved 2020-10-16.
- ^Talbot D. “Tamper-Proof” Chips, with Some Work, Might Give Up Their Secrets. MIT Technology Review 11 September 2013. Accessed 30 September 2015.
- ^Chenoweth N. Cash in News budget for police informants. The Australian Financial Review. 4 April 2012. Accessed 26 April 2012.
- ^Gardner E. Rupert Murdoch's $1 Billion Hacking Scandal You Haven't Heard About. Hollywood Reporter. 18 July 2011. Accessed 29 September 2015.
- ^ abEverett D. What the silicon manufacturer has put together let no man put asunder. Smartcard.co.uk March 2010. Accessed 29 September 2015.
- ^Chenoweth N. Murdoch's inside job.The Australian Financial Review. 31 March 2012. Accessed 26 April 2012.
- ^Vivendi settles row with NDS.The Guardian 2 May 2003. Accessed 26 April 2012.
- ^Van Tilborg H. (ed.) Christopher Tarnovsky. Encyclopedia of Cryptography and Security, Springer, 10 August 2005. ISBN 978-0387234731 Accessed 26 April 2012.
- ^Stevens T. Christopher Tarnovsky hacks Infineon's 'unhackable' chip, we prepare for false-advertising litigation. Engadget.com 12 February 2010.
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