[ISN] Feds enlist hacker to foil piracy rings

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Mon Jan 13 2003 - 00:30:44 PST

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    By David Lieberman, 
    NEW YORK - Federal prosecutors will tell a U.S. District Court in
    Tampa today of a plea deal with a man they call one of the most
    skillful pirates of DirecTV and EchoStar signals. The deal includes
    his agreement to help them crack several international
    computer-chip-hacking groups.
    Steven Woida has yet to be formally sentenced on his guilty plea to
    charges of conspiracy to steal satellite services, and the government
    will ask at a bond hearing that he be kept jailed for now.
    It will be the first time officials will spell out in court details of
    a five-year effort to break up the networks of sophisticated code
    breakers who have targeted the U.S. satellite industry.
    By selling codes for smart cards - the devices that instruct set-top
    decoders to unscramble satellite TV signals - hackers have enabled as
    many as 3 million people to illegally watch DirecTV and EchoStar's
    Dish Network for free. That amounts to an estimated $4 billion a year
    in lost revenue for the industry. DirecTV has 11 million paying
    subscribers. EchoStar has 8 million.
    Prosecutors will describe their actions today in the case involving 
    Woida, who was arrested Oct. 11 as he was making progress toward 
    cracking the code for DirecTV's latest smart card, known as the P-4, 
    they say. He is believed to be one of just a few dozen people with the 
    computer know-how and contacts to pull this off.
    Had he succeeded, it would have had "disastrous financial 
    consequences" for DirecTV, according to the criminal complaint against 
    Woida filed by the Customs Service in Tampa. The company's anti-piracy 
    efforts heavily depend on the new card's security. 
    Woida, who has also used the name Steven Frazier, has been jailed 
    since his arrest despite the plea deal. He will ask the judge to free 
    him on bond. U.S. attorneys will argue that he's a flight risk, saying 
    he was arrested in Dallas as he was about to board a flight to Cabo 
    San Lucas, Mexico. Court records say he booked the flight immediately 
    after Customs agents found computer chips and other hacking gear in 
    his luggage on his return from a trip to Canada where, they say, he 
    met with another hacker working on DirecTV's card.
    Had they succeeded, they could have sold the code to a maker of 
    hacking equipment or sold hacked cards directly to pirates via the 
    Now, officials expect Woida to provide help to foil attacks from 
    Tunisia, Canada, Hong Kong and elsewhere on the USA's computer-based 
    He already has a reputation among world hackers. According to Customs' 
    search warrant affidavit, Woida told them that after the Sept. 11 
    terror attacks "he received e-mails from unknown individuals in 
    Afghanistan requesting that he perform hacking services for them." He 
    told Customs he didn't respond to the requests.
    Federal prosecutors declined to comment beyond the court documents. 
    Woida's lawyer didn't return a call. 
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