NDS denies ONdigital hacking claims

NDS has denied claims that it paid a hacker to spread details of a pay TV operator’s codes on the internet. The allegations were made during last night’s airing of the BBC’s investigative series Panorama.

Panorama interviewed pay TV hacker Lee Gibling who said that NDS had funded the expansion of the hacking website he set up in the 1990s called The House of Ill Compute (THOIC) in the 1990s, and got him to distribute on the internet the codes required to hack the UKs now defunct ONdigital pay TV platform. Gibling claimed the codes had been to supplied to him by an NDS employee.

At the time of the alleged actions, NDS was a subsidiary of News Corp, which also owned BSkyB. ONdigital, which changed its name to ITV Digital, closed down in 2002, four years after launching. News Corp is in the process of selling NDS to Cisco in a deal worth US$5 billion (€3.8 billion).

NDS did not deny that it made payments to Gibling but claimed that it was using his website to “trap and catch hackers and pirates.” In a statement, the company said: “It is simply not true that NDS used the THOIC website to sabotage the commercial interests of ONdigital/ITV Digital or indeed any rival.”

NDS did not deny possessing the ONdigital codes, but it said this was normal practice for CA vendors: “All companies in the conditional access industry – and many law enforcement agencies – come to possess codes that could enable hackers to access services for free.”

Earlier this month, NDS received close to US$19 million in damages following the US Supreme Court’s denial of a petition by US broadcaster EchoStar and TV technology company Kudelski over allegations of abetting piracy leveled against NDS in the US. Echostar filed a US$2 billion claim against NDS in 2003, alleging that NDS posted codes compromising the security of its satellite platform on the DR7 website.

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