Tag Archives: common scrambling algorithm

New pay-TV card-sharing scam uncovered in Cyprus

A rare example of a so-called ‘card-sharing’ pay-TV piracy operation has come to light following AEPOC’s announcement of a police raid in Cyprus.
On June 14th a 49-year-old Cypriot man was arrested for illegally providing subscriptions to the pay-TV offerings of BFBS, BSkyB and Nova.
The pirate is accused of having provided illegal pay-TV subscriptions to nearly 1,400 clients in Cyprus and across Europe – earning at least €100,000 over an eight-month period, according to some estimates.
Card-sharing exploits a weakness in the DVB conditional access system through which a legitimate smartcard is hacked to provide a stream of access codes which can be distributed for a fee to consumers unwilling to pay the full price for a pay-TV subscription.
Farncombe discussed the nature of this weakness in detail in a White Paper entitled: Towards a Replacement for the DVB Common Scrambling Algorithm.

Farncombe Consulting proposes replacement for DVB Common Scrambling Algorithm

Farncombe Consulting Group, which hosts this blog, has published a second White Paper on TV Conditional Access (CA), which proposes a possible replacement for the DVB Common Scrambling Algorithm (CSA).

This is the hardware-based digital TV encryption technology mandated under European Law and which underpins today’s DVB-based pay-TV sector.

Farncombe’s in-house video security experts think it’s overdue for a replacement, arguing that – although it was introduced for the best possible motives in the early 1990s – the technology now raises serious commercial, regulatory and technical concerns for the digital pay-TV industry.

For instance, they point out, the CSA was designed for an era when operators were keen to avoid their content being distributed to PCs, and where broadband did not exist as a distribution medium. But neither of these factors apply today. This means operators are saddled with a technology which makes content distribution more difficult, and is not only already vulnerable to piracy but poised to become increasingly so.

In the White Paper, Farncombe accordingly proposes a next-generation replacement for the CSA, based on a ‘toolkit’ approach which mixes both hardware and software elements.

This will take time to implement, however. In the meantime, operators who upgrade their installed receiver base without addressing the security flaws in the CSA approach risk wasting their investment. Farncombe notes that the nature of this weakness is such that it only takes one hacked receiver to allow control words to be fed over broadband to any legacy DVB STB and enable pay-TV content to be pirated.

This implies that the industry needs to introduce a replacement as soon as possible.

A PDF of the new White Paper can be obtained from Farncombe by clicking here (or by pasting the following URL into your browser: http://www.farncombe.eu/index.php?menu=4.4) and filling in a simple registration form. Farncombe will then personally send you a copy.