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Clover’s Week: Call security
By Julian Clover
March 29, 2012 16.10 Europe/London

It’s been a rough week for NDS as it faced accusations from the BBC’s leading current affairs show, writes Julian Clover.

It’s open season on NDS, at least it was ten years ago, the content on the Panorama documentary seemingly so old one almost expected Richard Dimbleby to pop up the end and wish us all goodnight.

A decade ago digital broadcasting was getting underway, but analogue systems were still in place. There had been hacks of the majority of the leading conditional access systems and NDS was no exception. Little wonder then that NDS had established its Operational Security units. Equally it would come as no surprise to discover that the News Corp subsidiary’s competitors had established similar sections.

Since digitization there have been no known hacks of the NDS CA technology, though others haven’t faired so well.

News Corp bashing has always been an accepted public sport, and with the newspaper hacking scandal that has enveloped News International, we shouldn’t be that surprised NDS has also been pulled in.

But the accusations – many of which have already been through legal systems overseas with NDS exonerated – have all happened over 10 years ago. What would be the gamechanger would be the discovery of a fresh spate of hacking. If there were something out there it would presumably have surfaced over the last few days.

The early part of the century was a time when the new digital technologies enabled the entrance of many new players. A process that is still very much alive as IPTV gains a foothold – in some markets at least – along with the over the top and second screen services that are regularly documented in these pages.

There have been comments from News Corp, NDS and the BBC (standing by the edition of Panorama that started it all), but Cisco has probably wisely remained silent.

Cisco stands to inherit any fallout from what has all the hallmarks of another protracted set of legal arguments. It is paying $5 billion (€3.83bn) for the privilege.

Even though Cisco has, through its Scientific-Atlanta heritage, run a CA business I somehow can’t see them running the legal black arts of reverse engineering that run across the industry.

But of course when you marry into a new family sooner or later you get to meet all the relatives.


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