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NDS said to have paid hackers

by on25 April 2008


Corporate espionage allegations linger

DISH Network is claiming that NDS paid hackers who were known as the “Black hat Team” to construct devices and steal codes to allow for the reception of signals from DISH Network satellites. Christopher Tarnovsky claims that he was paid more than $20,000 by NDS to find a way to break codes that would allow the reception of signals from DISH Network Satellites without paying for them.

DISH clams that Tarnovsky is the person who constructed the “Stinger” which was able to connect to any smart card no matter if the smart card was from the DISH Network or DirecTV. The Stinger would allow the cards to be reprogrammed to allow the reception of satellite signals provided that it was loaded with the right codes and programming.

Tarnovsky did admit to building the device, but claims that his intentions were to improve security only, but DISH claims that hackers or NDS used the device to re-program over 50 DISH Network smart cards. Tarnovsky claims that he is being setup and he never received money for re-programming smart cards. He did also admit that he was receiving cash from NDS that was sent to him in Canada in packages that contained electronics, as well as the money.

Tarnovsky did get patent protection for a device that was used for the testing and verification of the legitimacy of smart cards with the ability to store data on them in 2005. According to fellow hacker Tony Dionisi, Tarnovsky bragged about the Stinger and claimed that another hacker who also happened to be a NDS employee was using the device to re-program DISH Network smart cards.

DISH attorneys claim that the NDS plan was to recruit hackers, and provide them with information and tools to turn them on DISH Network and away from hacking DirecTV which had been the victim of such attacks for a long time. DISH claims that this is a clear cut case of corporate espionage that was directed at them.

NDS is claiming that they have done nothing wrong and that it routinely does monitor the equipment and methodologies of competitors in order to improve its own security. NDS claims that they have done nothing wrong and that it has to use all of the tools at its disposal to compete in a competitive marketplace, but they never set out to directly harm the DISH Network.

The subject of satellite hacking to receive programming from providers has always been big business in the U.S. and Canada. Both DISH Network and DirecTV have faced a ton of problems surrounding the ability to secure their smart cards against attacks that allow users to receive programming without paying for it.

While the Internet did provide a resource that has helped the hacking of satellite smart cards flourish, in the past year or two much of the activity has died down due to aggressive tactics that the satellite companies have used to deal with the hackers and close holes which has led to less hacking of smart cards than previously.

Last modified on 25 April 2008
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