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“I never got money for reprogramming Echostar cards. Someone is trying to set me up,” said Christopher Tarnovsky with regards to the allegations leveled against him.
News Corp claims hackers only assisted in internal network security

The world’s “second best hacker” says he was hired under the table by media conglomerate News Corp, which owns the Wall Street Journal, MySpace, Fox News, and DirecTV.

Christopher Tarnovsky, testifying in Echostar v. NDS, says he was paid $20,000 -- mailed inside electronics sent from Canada -- to break into DISH Network’s satellite system and steal security codes necessary for pirating DISH Network’s satellite signals. EchoStar communications, which owned the DISH Network before a split in December of 2007, alleges that hackers from NDS Group, owned by News Corporation, employed hackers to flood the market with smart cards for satellite receivers designed specifically to steal paid DISH content. Both EchoStar and DISH, as separate entities, are plaintiffs in the case.

The suit alleges that the smart cards cost DISH $900M in lost sales and network repairs.

Tarnovsky says that while he was employed to develop “pirating software,” it was not used against DISH or any other rival – instead, it was designed to secure DirecTV’s network.

DISH attorneys said Tarnovsky constructed a device called “The Stinger” – which Tarnovsky admitted to doing – that was able to interface with any smart card, regardless of which company it was designed to work with. Tarnovsky says his actions with The Stinger were aboveboard, but DISH attorneys claimed that hackers and/or NDS employees used it to reprogram at least 50 DISH Network smart cards.

“I never got money for reprogramming Echostar cards,” Tarnovsky testified. “Someone is trying to set me up.”

Patent records reveal Tarnovsky received patent protection on a “system for testing, verifying legitimacy of smart card in-situ and for storing data therein” in 2005.

Earlier, fellow hacker and associate Tony Dionisi testified that he recalled Tarnovsky bragging to him about The Stinger, and told the court that he knew of “another hacker and NDS employee” who used the machine to reprogram DISH’s smart cards.

Tarnovsky says he was paid on a regular basis for 10 years, and received paychecks from Harper Collins, News Corp’s publishing company.

DISH lead attorney Wade Welch, speaking earlier this month, said NDS’ plan was to take hackers “off the streets” and “turn them on the competitors.”

“They called it the Black Hat Team,” said Welch.

NDS says it’s done nothing wrong. “Because this is a competitive business, NDS also monitors competitors,” said NDS attorney Richard Stone. “NDS has done nothing to illegally harm or damage EchoStar. All NDS has done is compete hard and fair in the marketplace.”

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Why News Corp?
By SandmanWN on 4/24/08, Rating: 0
RE: Why News Corp?
By TomCorelis on 4/24/2008 9:20:50 PM , Rating: 5
News Corp owns NDS Group and a controlling stake in DirecTV. NDS provides satellite systems, DirecTV sells satellite TV service. Tarnovsky was paid by Harper Collins.

What do those three companies have in common?

RE: Why News Corp?
By SandmanWN on 4/24/08, Rating: 0
RE: Why News Corp?
By SandmanWN on 4/24/2008 9:43:59 PM , Rating: 2
From Reuters:
"I never got money for reprogramming EchoStar cards," Tarnovsky said. "Someone is trying to set me up."

Dish attorney Chad Hagan asked, "This is all a big conspiracy?"

"Yes," Tarnovsky answered. He conceded that he constructed a device called "the stinger" that could communicate with any smart card in the world.

Another hacker, Tony Dionisi, testified on Tuesday that Tarnovsky bragged about creating "the stinger" and that he knew of another hacker and NDS employee who reprogrammed 50 EchoStar smart cards with the device.

Can a hacker be sued for making a device to read smart cards if he doesn't it? I would think creating a tool and using the tool is completely different scenario. Sounds like Tony Dionisi will be seeing the stand in this case very soon.

If he admits he did this behind Tarnovsky's back then this whole case is a wash.

RE: Why News Corp?
By SandmanWN on 4/24/08, Rating: 0
RE: Why News Corp?
By TomCorelis on 4/25/2008 3:33:48 AM , Rating: 2
If all that were true, why would he receive paychecks from Harper Collins?

RE: Why News Corp?
By SandmanWN on 4/25/08, Rating: 0
RE: Why News Corp?
By JonnyDough on 4/24/2008 11:32:04 PM , Rating: 2
If you make a bomb that you know will be used in a bombing, I think you're called an accomplice. The same applies here I would imagine.

RE: Why News Corp?
By SandmanWN on 4/24/2008 11:38:10 PM , Rating: 2
Hmm lets expand on that a bit. There are companies that do indeed make bombs. The Armies of the world use these bombs to kill people. Does that make those companies accomplices? How bout the companies that distribute chlorine and ammonia? Are they accomplices for people that use their products to make bombs.

It works both ways you know.

RE: Why News Corp?
By SiN on 4/25/08, Rating: 0
RE: Why News Corp?
By theapparition on 4/25/2008 7:36:12 AM , Rating: 2
Possibly dumbest reply to an analogy ever.

Hmm lets expand on that a bit. There are companies that do indeed make bombs. The Armies of the world use these bombs to kill people.

If you ILLEGALLY construct a bomb in your house and give it to someone and know thier intent is ILLEGAL you are absolutely an accomplice. At the very least, you are guilty for constructing that bomb, at worst, liable for how it's used.

You dare to compare that to a company that is LEGALLY LICENCED to make WEAPONS and GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT approves the sale to ARMIES.

Does that make those companies accomplices?

No, and if you can't see the difference you need professional help.

How bout the companies that distribute chlorine and ammonia? Are they accomplices for people that use their products to make bombs.

If they are licenced to produce chlorine and ammonia (controlled chemicals) then no.......however, if they fail to report the sales to the appropriate agencies, or they know the intent of the use of thier chemicals is ILLEGAL, then they absolutely can be held liable.

It works both ways you know.

The OP's point was completely valid, your's......not so much.

RE: Why News Corp?
By nah on 4/25/2008 9:14:34 AM , Rating: 1
By that definition the people at Thyssen Corp who produced Zyklon B gas were also legal--as they were legally licenced by the Nazi Govt of Germany to make those--not to mention the V2s and other really nice stuff--
This argument won't work unless you define which governments are so-called 'rogue' ones and which ones aren't---in those days Germany and Italy weren't called rogue govts--until the war actually started---yet before that Italy poison-gassed Ethiopia and Germany Spain--yet they bombed and killed more people than the 'rogue' ones of today

RE: Why News Corp?
By littlebitstrouds on 4/25/2008 11:56:58 AM , Rating: 2
Are they accomplices for people that use their products to make bombs.

Welllll of course that all depends on who won the war, and got to write the history books.

RE: Why News Corp?
By JonnyDough on 4/28/2008 2:16:40 PM , Rating: 2
The reply to my post about becoming an accomplice was silly. We weren't talking about backing governments, we were talking about backing a corporation in an illegal motion against another. This isn't World War II, and nobody is dying from this hacking. It's illegal according to U.S. law. Whether or not you agree with the laws of the U.S. is irrelevant. I was simply stating that, per our government system - this is illegal and he could be charged as an accomplice. He is to blame as well, just as IBM was back when they were helping Hitler. The question of guilt lies within the hacker's knowledge. If it can be proven that he was aware of the intended use, then he cannot plead the fifth.

RE: Why News Corp?
By SandmanWN on 4/29/2008 9:16:29 AM , Rating: 2
Which law is that btw? Must be the one about presumption of guilt I suppose. You are assuming he is guilty because he created a tool to read smart cards. He actually has to use it for financial gain or wrong doing before its illegal.

RE: Why News Corp?
By afkrotch on 4/28/2008 2:42:35 PM , Rating: 2
I'm thinking it'd be illegal to break into another person's network and use that data for the creation of a device. The former would definitely be illegal, but the latter is a bit iffy.

Great Picture!
By Bender 123 on 4/24/2008 8:18:26 PM , Rating: 2
They are in front of you and can open very large doors...

Hooray for Borris! I will SPIKE THEM!!!

RE: Great Picture!
By PrezWeezy on 4/24/2008 8:46:27 PM , Rating: 4

RE: Great Picture!
By the goat on 4/25/2008 8:12:48 AM , Rating: 2
They are in front of you and can open very large doors...


I was in the courtroom
By Hewlett on 4/24/2008 11:31:42 PM , Rating: 2
I was present most of Wednesday when this guy was in the "box".

This article is not even close to what his testimony was.

I think we can get a transcript of his testimony but I'm not sure.

This is sad the news reporters who were present are exaggerating and lying. When the trial is over and the facts are in the public they are then going to tell the truth? I don't get it.

RE: I was in the courtroom
By mpjesse on 4/25/2008 12:35:39 AM , Rating: 2
Would you care to elaborate on the supposed discrepancies?

RE: I was in the courtroom
By Hewlett on 4/25/2008 10:43:54 AM , Rating: 2
I don't remember everything exact but this $20000.00 was some kind of payment from one of the dish pirates in canada from an undercover operation - not from his employer or harper collins.

There was a lot of talk about undercover operations and spying like if he was part of the CIA.

He spoke of a very impressive secret military background too but nothing is mentioned.

I think it is a little bit sad the reporters copy false information from 1-2 sources and then change it around a little and keep publishing it. Then they tell you that you need permission to use the article LOL.

Print some truth guys, a spy article would make you the author being copied instead of the copier.

RE: I was in the courtroom
By Hewlett on 4/25/2008 10:50:14 AM , Rating: 2
When I said, "Dish pirates in Canada", I meant an ex-directv hacker (Eriser) who now hacks Dish and works for Dish and was a "witness" to what seems to be nothing. Mr Eriser seems to say something at the moment and then if asked an hour later say something totally different.

Eriser came across very uncredible Tuesday.

Question about the picture for the article
By mattclary on 4/25/2008 7:46:34 AM , Rating: 2
What movie is the picture from? The one with the guy with the glasses, I recognize the "Hackers" picture...

RE: Question about the picture for the article
By the goat on 4/25/2008 8:16:42 AM , Rating: 2
By alp689 on 4/28/2008 5:54:33 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, that's Natalia and Boris from Goldeneye (the only decent Brosnan-era 007 film), and the latter is IN-VEENCIBLE!

By KeithP on 4/24/2008 7:55:25 PM , Rating: 2
“I never got money for reprogramming Echostar cards,” Tarnovsky testified. “Someone is trying to set me up.”

Yeah, I was set up...that's the ticket.


RE: Yeah
By tastyratz on 4/25/2008 8:28:31 AM , Rating: 2
Here's the thing,
From what I can read in the article (and I haven't read anything else on this so if I am incorrect enlighten me)
for that specific round of things - He created a smart card reader/writer.
He didn't actually reprogram cards with the reader.
He simply created a device that can read/write smart cards.
This could have many legitimate uses just as illegitimate.
Although Illegitimate uses of the device probably far surpass legitimate ones the point is its a peripheral.

Deja Vu
By Guld81 on 4/25/2008 7:16:55 AM , Rating: 3
This is a total Deja Vu for me.

In 2002 the EXACT same thing happened in the Nordic countries, the local provider, Canal Digital, was hacked around half a year after its main competitor changed to News Corps. NDS system.

I was at the time involved in the work behind the 'pirate' scenes, and there was heavy rumors about News Corps. involvement in the hacking. This was later confirmed by the development Director of Canal Digital's Conax's system (Conax correponds to NDS). Which had meetings with hackers working for News Corps. ...

The old articles about this it still available around on Nordic SAT sites. The evidence was actually quite strong, and Canal Digital repeatedly threaten News Corps. with legal action, but in the end Canal Digital decided to focus its resources in its business instead of in the court room.

By sixth on 4/24/2008 8:00:02 PM , Rating: 2
...And like this kind of stuff is new...happen's everyday in corporate world!

Not a new thing
By Chemical Chris on 4/24/2008 9:17:06 PM , Rating: 2
This reprogramming of smart cards for dish or directtv networks is nothing new. Back in the day (~5 years ago) when I lived at home, we had directv (Im in Canada, so its not even offered to us legally). We got a lil device which could be used to reflash the card, and just got new hex or bin file from the internet, and voila, free tv. Of course, it had to be reprogrammed frequently, as i didnt know that much about it, I relied on freely available code, which was usually 'fixed' within a few weeks.
So, there have been plenty of people ripping of the media providers who use smart card systems (most if not all of em, AFAIK). This blaming of news corp seems ridiculous, theres always a way around their security systems, and its being done by hundreds of thousands or millions of people everyday.
Oh well, today, I refuse to pay for more than one wire running to my home, as I access all my services via some internet service.
Of note, once i left home, my dad couldnt figure out/refused to learn how to operate the card reprogrammer, and had to ditch the directv for starchoice, which he had to pay for.....lazy lazy man, but also cheap, so, i couldnt figure out why he wouldnt spend a few days figuring it out....C'est la vie

my question is...
By JonnyDough on 4/24/2008 11:28:25 PM , Rating: 2
How much is Dish Network paying this punk to make Direct TV look bad?

By mpjesse on 4/25/2008 12:33:43 AM , Rating: 2
These hackers were employed by NDS. Though NDS is a seperate entity, it does not legally exclude DirecTV from liability due to the satellite equipment tie-in.
That said, stretching liability to News Corp is a little far fetched and silly to suggest at this point. Just because News Corp owns NDS doesn't mean this lawsuit will go any further than NDS.

Regardless of liability it looks like NDS is in a lot of trouble. I wouldn't be surprised to see criminal charges show up in the near future. Even if the actions of these hackers weren't sanctioned by NDS, they were still employed by NDS at the time and were probably given access to technology that otherwise would not be available to a card hacker (hence the liability). Furthermore, it seems NDS all but encouraged these hackers to break into DISH's network. That in and of itself is concerning, but the accusation that the hackers used the information to provide a means for the public to hack DISH cards is very, very scary.

This whole "reverse engineering" defense NDS has presented sounds awfully fishy. Someone at NDS has used some very poor judgement. When it comes to trade secrets the DoJ doesn't mess around. Simply google "coca-cola espionage case" and you'll know what I mean.

Where there's smoke there's a fire. NDS isn't going to come out of this one unscathed.

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