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cable card hacking


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#21 Clay584

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 07:06 AM

I work for a major cable company/ISP and I know a bit about these cards because we have them deployed in the field. It is theoretically possible to hack the cards. You would have to hack the card to be able to read/write to the card. Then you would have to get the configuration file that you want (ie - all channels). But to do that you would have to legit order the services so your card would download the correct config file. Then it may be possible to downgrade your services again, and then hit your card with the full config file. That being said, don't know if this has been done. The only problem with all of this is in order for your cable card to work it has to be assigned to an account with services. All of this equipment is addressable and therefore tracable back to your account.

On a side note, the first 100 or so channels for most cable companys are analog channels and it is not hard to hack these because they are just broadcasted out. Any interactive features (guide) or premium channels are digital and require two-way communication which requires an addressable peice of equipment which is registered to an account.

I know our system runs audits on this kind of stuff, so be careful.

#22 stop_cableco_gouging

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 08:47 PM

I work for a major cable company/ISP...


Clay584, thanks for your reply and input.

First, and foremost, I'd like to say to everyone that my intent is not and never was to "steal" any cable service.

I detest cableco's business practice and the way they treat customers! All the while they enjoy enormous profits with a monopoly license from our government. Cableco's have no sense of "fair play" or moral conscience towards customers. If they did, they would not manipulate PSIP data (as one example) so that you "must" have a cableco STB just to "know" what channel you're watching. The way cableco's manipulate service; manipulate data streams; manipulate service "tiers" so that they can squeeze every penny from a customer is (in my humble opinion) criminal.

The CableCARD is something that is/was a "good thing" for a cable customer but a very bad thing for the cable industry's enormous profit engine. With a CableCARD, you can't order PPV ($$$); you can't order On-Demand ($$$); no "let's watch this game" tonight ($$$); no "let's watch this special or this movie" tonight ($$$); there's NO spur of the moment, impulsive buying of anything extra = $$$$$.

If I'm paying for basic or extended cable (service level tiers that are typically void of any and all "premium" channels), I don't want to be told that I must have a cableco STB just so I know what channel I'm watching, even if that STB is "free!" If the FCC reg's say that cableco "must" provide all the local HD channels unencrypted ("in-the-clear") and make all those local HD clearQAM channels available to even the lowest (most basic) level of service, then, I don't think that the cableco should come along and tell me that I must subscribe to a "HD package" service at an extra cost just to get (free) local HD; or tell me that I must have a cableSTB to get those "local HD" channels; or tell me that I need a cableSTB because my QAM TV can't tell what channel I'm on because the PSIP data has been deliberately and intentionally malformed or corrupted.

I hope that the above "ranting" will explain my sense of corporate injustice and why I (along with many others) would like to own my own CableCARD for basic cable (unencrypted, non-premium) service. I haven't come across anything that says that it's illegal to own a CableCARD. And, as long as the CableCARD is not circumventing encrypted service or somehow passing on encrypted or "premium" channel(s), it's "basic" functionality is (probably, I'm guessing) legal.

If I understand Clay584's correctly, a card does indeed need to be "initialized" by the cableco where the card will be used. This would explain why buying a card off ebay will not work and the guy that tried that (at the TiVo community website) failed. It would also explain (again, reading at the TiVo community website) why taking a card out of an "authorized" box and putting it into a "non-athorized" box did work; the card was already "initialized" on that system.

The notion of "cloning" a "authorized/working" card may be variable, but the obvious disadvantage is that one would need a working card from the same "system" as the target card is intended for. Even if the "working" card is authorized for "premium" service, the "clone" would not be capable of "stealing" premium service channels since the "cloned" card would never get "paired" at the cableco head-end. If I understand correctly, a cablecard gets some "magic" keys that enables the card to de-crypt a stream and then the card actually re-enclyps that same stream before passing the channel out. To get those de-crypt "keys" the card must be paired and authorized by the cableco head-end; and to do that, you need the cableco at the other end of the phone. Since the cableco encrypts all premium channels, a "cloned" or "re-programmed" cablecard will only work for standard, basic, non-premium channels. And, if I understand FCC correctly, cableco is not allowed to encrypt any local channels that are "free" over the air including local HD channels.

Programming a card so that it's able to receive the cableco channel list and EPG guide (if that's the proper nomenclature, and all that is actually required), without nocking on the door, would be the more elegant, and the more global solution. And, again, the card would be incapable of "stealing" premium service since it would not have any of the de-cryption keys.

I think there are a number of people (especially TiVo users) that would find this a very welcome option. I'm not a lawyer; but as far as I can tell, non of this would be illegal. I'd appreciate any feedback if someone that knows any different.

If a "global" setting can be found, I'd be happy to buy (assuming I can afford) a PCMCIA reader/writer and offer the service to anyone interested. If any of you are inclined to look into this, may I suggest not wasting time on S-cards. As with most new technology, the second generation (M-cards) work better.

Thank you all for your time.

#23 J.Ripper

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 07:07 AM

AHH!!!! I just had a thought and i'm not sure if its been covered or not but you all know that spint and cingular (at&what the hell ever) both use those wireless card that provide internet via cdma network, if i bought one of the card, is there a way to hack it to work free of charge or could you possible clone someone else's card and or perhaps it works on a user name and password. any way im curious, let me know.

#24 eltutu

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Posted 17 July 2008 - 10:04 AM

I work for a major cable company/ISP...


Clay584, thanks for your reply and input.

First, and foremost, I'd like to say to everyone that my intent is not and never was to "steal" any cable service.

I detest cableco's business practice and the way they treat customers! All the while they enjoy enormous profits with a monopoly license from our government. Cableco's have no sense of "fair play" or moral conscience towards customers. If they did, they would not manipulate PSIP data (as one example) so that you "must" have a cableco STB just to "know" what channel you're watching. The way cableco's manipulate service; manipulate data streams; manipulate service "tiers" so that they can squeeze every penny from a customer is (in my humble opinion) criminal.

The CableCARD is something that is/was a "good thing" for a cable customer but a very bad thing for the cable industry's enormous profit engine. With a CableCARD, you can't order PPV ($$$); you can't order On-Demand ($$$); no "let's watch this game" tonight ($$$); no "let's watch this special or this movie" tonight ($$$); there's NO spur of the moment, impulsive buying of anything extra = $$$$$.

If I'm paying for basic or extended cable (service level tiers that are typically void of any and all "premium" channels), I don't want to be told that I must have a cableco STB just so I know what channel I'm watching, even if that STB is "free!" If the FCC reg's say that cableco "must" provide all the local HD channels unencrypted ("in-the-clear") and make all those local HD clearQAM channels available to even the lowest (most basic) level of service, then, I don't think that the cableco should come along and tell me that I must subscribe to a "HD package" service at an extra cost just to get (free) local HD; or tell me that I must have a cableSTB to get those "local HD" channels; or tell me that I need a cableSTB because my QAM TV can't tell what channel I'm on because the PSIP data has been deliberately and intentionally malformed or corrupted.

I hope that the above "ranting" will explain my sense of corporate injustice and why I (along with many others) would like to own my own CableCARD for basic cable (unencrypted, non-premium) service. I haven't come across anything that says that it's illegal to own a CableCARD. And, as long as the CableCARD is not circumventing encrypted service or somehow passing on encrypted or "premium" channel(s), it's "basic" functionality is (probably, I'm guessing) legal.

If I understand Clay584's correctly, a card does indeed need to be "initialized" by the cableco where the card will be used. This would explain why buying a card off ebay will not work and the guy that tried that (at the TiVo community website) failed. It would also explain (again, reading at the TiVo community website) why taking a card out of an "authorized" box and putting it into a "non-athorized" box did work; the card was already "initialized" on that system.

The notion of "cloning" a "authorized/working" card may be variable, but the obvious disadvantage is that one would need a working card from the same "system" as the target card is intended for. Even if the "working" card is authorized for "premium" service, the "clone" would not be capable of "stealing" premium service channels since the "cloned" card would never get "paired" at the cableco head-end. If I understand correctly, a cablecard gets some "magic" keys that enables the card to de-crypt a stream and then the card actually re-enclyps that same stream before passing the channel out. To get those de-crypt "keys" the card must be paired and authorized by the cableco head-end; and to do that, you need the cableco at the other end of the phone. Since the cableco encrypts all premium channels, a "cloned" or "re-programmed" cablecard will only work for standard, basic, non-premium channels. And, if I understand FCC correctly, cableco is not allowed to encrypt any local channels that are "free" over the air including local HD channels.

Programming a card so that it's able to receive the cableco channel list and EPG guide (if that's the proper nomenclature, and all that is actually required), without nocking on the door, would be the more elegant, and the more global solution. And, again, the card would be incapable of "stealing" premium service since it would not have any of the de-cryption keys.

I think there are a number of people (especially TiVo users) that would find this a very welcome option. I'm not a lawyer; but as far as I can tell, non of this would be illegal. I'd appreciate any feedback if someone that knows any different.

If a "global" setting can be found, I'd be happy to buy (assuming I can afford) a PCMCIA reader/writer and offer the service to anyone interested. If any of you are inclined to look into this, may I suggest not wasting time on S-cards. As with most new technology, the second generation (M-cards) work better.

Thank you all for your time.



Hi, I'm new to this forum..First of all, want to thanks all of you for this valuable info..special to you 'stop_cableco_gouging' , great research. In fact, I live in Panama, Republic of Panama, I bought a Tivo HD, because I was tired of the high cost of the cable company in my area. So, I pay a basic plan and can still watch the clear QAM HD channels without the need of rent the cable box of my local cable company. I saw this cablecard multi-stream in EBAY (pmk800) from scientific atlanta, I decided to give it a try. Nothing to loose, just a couple of $$....Definetly it did not work, because as someone else said, it need to be intialized...I guest, there is no way I can get this card to work. I did the same, inserted the card into my laptop pcmcia slots, but nothing happens. Don't know what else to do !...

Thanks...

#25 mjg100

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 08:08 PM

I am new to this forum. I came across it searching for information regarding cable set top boxes. In my HT system I have basic cable service and my TV has QAM so that I get any unencrypted digital and HD channels. I also have a separate tuner with QAM so that I can send these same channels to my projector. I am looking for a way to record the free HD channels for later play back. I was hoping that I could buy a Motorola DVR (local cable company uses Motorola) and use it with my basic cable service to record the SD and HD channels that I get with my basic cable service. I am not trying to get anything that I am not paying for. I just want to be able to locate by use of a guide and record for later play back. Has anybody come up with any solutions to this problem?

#26 PurpleJesus

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 08:51 PM

I am new to this forum. I came across it searching for information regarding cable set top boxes. In my HT system I have basic cable service and my TV has QAM so that I get any unencrypted digital and HD channels. I also have a separate tuner with QAM so that I can send these same channels to my projector. I am looking for a way to record the free HD channels for later play back. I was hoping that I could buy a Motorola DVR (local cable company uses Motorola) and use it with my basic cable service to record the SD and HD channels that I get with my basic cable service. I am not trying to get anything that I am not paying for. I just want to be able to locate by use of a guide and record for later play back. Has anybody come up with any solutions to this problem?


Are you wanting to build an HD DVR that you can use to play back to the TV or the Projector?

I'm not sure if it can do it, but I think it'll be worth your time to read up on.. http://www.mythtv.org/




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