Satellite-TV Hacking Allegations Return for Murdoch | Threat Level | Wired.com
t 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.