Murdoch cops blast over pay TV pirates
Two months later, the NDS Black Hat team, a reverse engineering group set up by Operational Security chief Reuven Hasak in Haifa, set out to crack the Canal plus Seca card, a legal and common practice within the industry. Reverse engineering involves the microscopic deconstruction of the card, layer by layer, to reveal the embedded coding.
The team, which was led by German master hacker Oliver Koemmerling, travelled to Bristol to use a Focused Ion Beam and Scanning Electron Microscope in the university physics department.
By June 1998 the Black Hat team had extracted a part of the operating code for the Seca card known as the ROM binary file.
The ROM file is “like the plans of the safe, but it doesn’t give you the key to the safe”, the former chief executive of Canal Plus Technologies, Francois Carayol, told Panorama. “In fact what it did, it gave the hackers a very precise idea of where to drill to open the safe.”
Nine months later, a Canadian piracy site called DR7.com, run by a hacker called Al Menard, published a copy of the Seca ROM file. Koemmerling recognised that it had the same date and time stamp as the file created in Haifa. While time stamps can be fabricated, without knowledge of the Haifa file, the odds against creating the same time stamp in a 12-month period are 500,000 to one.