Three men were indicted on a single count of violating the federal copyright law pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Anthony Battaglia a few days ago. Their violation–hacking a DISH Network smart card.
Jung Kwak (Oceanside, CA) and Phillip Allison and Robert Ward (both from Seminole, FL), admitted that beginning in March 2008 they hired hackers to crack the then-latest DISH Network encryption so receiver boxes sold by Kwak could continue to work. Kwak was the owner of Viewtech, a company that imported satellite boxes allowing users to watch a certain amount of free programming. The box mostly received ethnic and religious programs but could also be used for more things. Kwak discovered by hacking the DISH smart cards and installing it into his “black boxes”, they could obtain more signals.
What created a problem for Kwak was DISH Network created a new encryption code in late 2007, rendering Kwak’s then smart cards useless. The cards were useless and so he had to create a workaround. Being an entrepreneur, he offered a quarter of a million dollar reward to hackers to obtain and reverse engineer the latest DISH smart card. I guess business was good for him and his boxes were selling like hotcakes if he could put up a $250,000 reward. Apparently, a hacker did come forward and Kwak, admitted in court, that he paid him $20,000 to dissect the smart card. Not a bad payday, so long as you don’t get caught.
The three criminals now face a maximum prison time of five years and $250,000 in fines when they are sentenced early next year. While these three guys got caught, there are thousands of viewers out there who are pirating satellite signals. While DISH Network and DirecTV try and keep up, the public will always be one step ahead of them. I guess if you don’t get caught, it’s great for you. Just don’t get singled out like these guys.
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