DStv cracked and pirated by techies; numerous arrests

Summary: Five people who cracked and resold pirated DStv services to end users at a reduced fee have been arrested in the Western Cape

Reports started surfacing recently that a group of people in the Western Cape distributed pirated DStv services at a monthly price well below the current DStv rates.

The people behind the pirated DStv services used Linux-powered DVB satellite digital television receivers (Dreambox), with a ‘master’ system which captured and decrypted the DStv smart card keys and distributed it via the Internet to the ‘satellite’ boxes of their subscribers.

MultiChoice CTO Gerdus van Eeden explained that the use of Dreamboxes to pirate DStv services is nothing new, but to date the prevalence of this technique was very limited in South Africa and that this is hence the first case of its kind in the country.

Arrests made

Van Eeden said that they have been monitoring the pirating of DStv services for a while already, and decided to act on Cape Town Dreambox cases because of the size of the operations.

Van Eeden explained that two syndicates were busted in a joint operation by MultiChoice and the South African police on 6 and 7 September 2011.

Five people (all part of the syndicates) were arrested in Kuilsrivier, Parrow, Strand, Caledon and Gordons Bay and equipment used in the DStv pirating operations was confiscated.

One of the syndicates served 46 end users at the time of the arrest. The number of subscribers of the other syndicate is currently not known.

Van Eeden said that the syndicates set up the DStv pirating service for pure commercial gain instead of merely doing it as a technical experiment.

Gerdus van Eeden
Gerdus van Eeden

Fighting DStv piracy

The MultiChoice CTO explained that they are working on technical solutions to curb the problem of DStv pirating, but the complications related to legacy decoders and smart cards is a challenge.

Van Eeden however warned prospective DStv pirates that they have a piracy monitoring department with operations across the country to track down and deal with illegal operations.

The five people who were arrested are currently out on bail, and the court case against the syndicates is expected to start later this year.

Van Eeden said that it will be up to the police to decide what will happen to people and companies who purchased pirated services from the two syndicates.

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DStv cracked and pirated by techies; numerous arrests