There was something tawdry and disgusting about the phone hacking by Rupert Murdoch's News of the World. The News Corporation owned tabloid hacked the phone mails of several thousand citizens of Great Britain. Victims included celebrities, politicians, and even a murdered eleven year old kidnap victim.
But that wasn't enough to generate type of criminal investigation of News Corporation that would topple Rupert Murdoch and his clan from the throne of the $30 billion News Corporation.
The current revelations of cable television hacking, laid out in detail by Australia's Financial Review and the BBC, provide a more concrete connection between outright criminality and the Murdoch run media giant. This alleged criminal behavior involves hackers on the payroll of a former Murdoch controlled Israel based company, NDS, and the demise of cable television competitors in Great Britain, the United States, and Australia due to that activity.
These allegations are reinvigorating the institutional shareholders revolt that may be the end of the Murdoch clan's control of News Corporation.
Unlike the compromised privacy of citizens due to phone hacking, there is a concrete value that can be placed on the alleged cable hacking activity of the Murdoch controlled NDS . It's called monetary damages. Billions were lost by ventures that attempted to compete with Murdoch but were unable to do so due to compromised security that made their cable systems vulnerable cable piracy (i.e., stolen services). (On March 15, CISCO announced its intent to acquire NDS in late 2012)
Murdoch's NDS and Hackers
Rupert Murdoch's investment helped create NDS in 1988. He acquired the company in 1992. That year, NDS hired the controversial Ray Adams as an operational security officer. Adams was a former commander for the London Metropolitan Police (the Met) in charge of criminal intelligence. He retired from the Met under a cloud of suspicion to sign on with security firm Kroll Associates and then NDS. Adams colleagues at the firm included a former head of Israel's domestic intelligence, a former U.S. Army intelligence officer, and an Israeli (Yossi Tsuria) who had plotted a terrorist bombing of the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem.
One of Adams first tasks was to set up a website that served as a haven for cable television encryption hackers. Thioc.com operated for years as a test bed to test the security of cable encryption programs, vital to maintaining the security of cable television signals to homes. When a cable firm's security programs are compromised, the firm is subject to undetectable free access to its services. The results can be ruinous as Britain's ITV and others discovered.
There is no controversy as to the nature of Thioc.com. Both NDS and hackers admit that it was a hacker-friendly site. In an email obtained by the Financial Review, Ray Adams admitted that "I created THOIC and still consider it my baby" (email 1131February 10, 2000). According to NDS and Adams, Thioc.com was a test bed. According to hackers using the NDS funded site ($170,000 annually according to an Adams email), they broke the security encryption codes of several Murdoch competitors. These codes were taken by other hackers and used to steal the services of Canal+, a French cable company, ITV, a British cable competitor of Murdoch's BSKYB cable network (which used Canal+ encryption codes), and others.
Hackers spill the beans
Lee Gibling, an NDS supported hacker, emailed Ray Adams in early 2001 showing "Thoic.com members discussed how hackers could learn in its online forums to program software allowing them to hack into cable television." (Financial Review NDS email summary)
A 1999 email shows an NDS looking into a potential hack of ITV's, a direct competitor to BSKYB.
the boxed OnDigital [ITV's cable service] decoder with internal mod
allowing freeview of all avaliable channels (100% undectectable 18 mth
guarantee)" Shiloh, Yehonatan email 503, November 23, 1999
More to the point, in a Declaration to the United States District Court, Oliver Kommerling, noted hacker and employed by NDS, testified to the following.
NDS hacked the Canal+ smart card [used by ITV];
NDS engineers created a method "by which people would be able to circumvent the security measures" of Canal+; and
NDS then arranged for "Chris Tarnovsky to make the code available on the internet."
US District Court, San Francisco, April 18, 2002, Maynee Report pdf page 3