[ISN] Murdoch security chief linked to TV piracy site

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Wed Mar 13 2002 - 23:42:12 PST

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    http://www.guardian.co.uk/internetnews/story/0,7369,667052,00.html
    
    John Cassy, David Leigh and Kevin Maguire
    Thursday March 14, 2002
    The Guardian 
    
    Evidence in the hands of the Guardian suggests that a former Scotland
    Yard commander who represents two of Rupert Murdoch's companies
    provided funds to a website that enabled counterfeiters to produce
    forged smart cards used to defraud ITV Digital, a principal rival in
    the pay TV market.
    
    Ray Adams, who is the head of security at NDS, a company controlled by
    Mr Murdoch's News Corporation, had a working relationship with the
    website, which has now been closed down and whose founder, Lee
    Gibling, has gone missing.
    
    According to emails in the possession of the Guardian, Mr Gibling was
    in contact with Mr Adams and received several thousand pounds from NDS
    paid directly into his personal bank account.
    
    As a representative of NDS and BSkyB, News Corporation's British TV
    business, Mr Adams is a board member of AEPOC, a European industry
    action group set up to combat piracy.
    
    Questions about Mr Adams's role have emerged following a legal action
    begun in California on Monday. Canal Plus, the French media company,
    is claiming $1bn (700m) in damages from NDS, alleging it used a
    laboratory in Israel to crack the secret codes on Canal Plus's own pay
    TV smart cards. The information was then made available to
    counterfeiters around the world through favoured websites.
    
    ITV Digital, in fierce competition with BSkyB, uses the Canal Plus
    access system and claims that piracy in the business has cost it at
    least 100m.
    
    Last night, Labour MP Martin O'Neill, chairman of the Commons trade
    and industry select committee, urged the office of fair trading to
    investigate allegations that ITV Digital's pay TV codes were
    deliberately cracked and distributed to counterfeiters. He said the
    broadcaster's "fragile finances" meant it could be driven out of
    business.
    
    The website, Thoic.com, also known as the House of Ill Compute, was
    routinely distributing the secret codes used to make counterfeit cards
    for accessing ITV Digital before its sudden closure last year.
    
    NDS has admitted a financial link with the website, but is adamant
    that this was part of a legitimate intelligence gathering exercise
    aimed at keeping a close eye on hackers who might breach its own
    pay-TV security. The company says it was effectively purchasing
    intelligence about the hackers who were attracted to the site.
    
    ITV Digital says neither Sky nor NDS should have had any dealings with
    such a website and believes the Murdoch companies should have stopped
    any financial support as soon as they realised the internet service
    was being used to undermine a rival such as itself.
    
    The emails suggest NDS was paying the website's expenses, and even
    providing them with a second computer "server" when the high level of
    interest through the internet began to strain their facilities.
    
    One email, from Mr Gibling to Mr Adams reads: "I hope you don't mind
    me spending so much time on aus and nz activities because I know you
    cover my work out of your budget."
    
    Another from another NDS employee, Mike Warren, to Mr Gibling says:  
    "Lee - your expenses were signed by R.A and have been taken by hand to
    finance and received by them last Wednesday I asked that they were
    dealt with asap."
    
    Mr Adams denies ever having been aware the website published ITV
    Digital's codes. "We never saw any of those codes," he said. Asked why
    he had supported the website financially, and what the content of his
    encrypted messages had been, he said: "I am not allowed to discuss
    operational matters".
    
    
    
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