How does illegal Pay-Tv Work?

How does illegal Pay-Tv Work?

This chapter describes the main processes through which fraud is perpetrated when receiving subscription television signals by means of illegal devices. In particular, the following two types of fraud are discussed:

  • Sharing a key through a server that is accessible through the Internet, known as Internet Key Sharing (IKS).
  • Sharing a key through a server that is accessible through an Internet satellite connection, known as Satellite Key Sharing (SKS).

IKS and SKS are currently the most widely used forms of fraud in Latin America. We will present, for each of these two types of fraud (IKS and SKS), the network topology, platforms and main components, as well as their functions. In addition, the attributes to identify illegal devices are included, which is essential to monitor the introduction, into the country, of devices capable of receiving coded satellite signals without due authorization, or those devices that can be modified to do so.

Internet Key Sharing (IKS)

IKS, also known as CW sharing, is a fraud technique that allows a group of users to share an official smart card in order to be able to see encrypted signals without paying subscriptions. There are different ways to share official smart cards with  other users, with Internet sharing currently being the most common. This requires connecting the
illegal device to a remote Internet server. Illegal software in the device allows it to communicate with the smart card located in the remote server and obtain the required CWs to be able to access encrypted audio and video content.
This process is represented in Figure 3 and consists in the following five steps:

  1. The ECM containing the encrypted CW is broadcast by the satellite and received by the illegal device. 
  2. Since the illegal device does not have the internal ability to decode the ECM, it sends the ECM to a remote IKS server through an Internet connection. 
  3. The IKS server receives the ECM and forwards it to the peripheral reader connected to the official smart card. This reader contains the official smart card and is able to decrypt the messages sent by the IKS server. The figure presents the case where the ECM is sent to the smart card and the decoded CWs are returned to the server.
  4. The server then sends the decoded CWs to the illegal device. 
  5. Finally, the illegal device uses the CWs to decrypt the content of the subscription satellite television signal and shows it on the TV screen.

Satellite Key Sharing (SKS)

SKS, also known as Data Sharing via Satellite, is a fraud technique that allows users to simultaneously share the rights of a smart card with another group of users. It is done by sharing CWs using an IP (Internet Protocol) address via satellite connections (e.g. Internet satellite connections). CWs are continuously sent to the IP address. Then the
Internet Service Provider (ISP) transmits the content sent to this IP address by means of the satellite. The equipment used to receive the SKS signals only needs to receive the packages containing the CWs in order to decrypt, in a fraudulent manner, the television signals in question (Figure 4).

SKS, also known as Data Sharing via Satellite, is a fraud technique that allows users to simultaneously share the rights of a smart card with another group of users. It is done by sharing CWs using an IP (Internet Protocol) address via satellite connections (e.g. Internet satellite connections). CWs are continuously sent to the IP address. Then the
Internet Service Provider (ISP) transmits the content sent to this IP address by means of the satellite. The equipment used to receive the SKS signals only needs to receive the packages containing the CWs in order to decrypt, in a fraudulent manner, the television signals in question (Figure 4).

How to identify illegal devices?

It should be noted that the ability to decode encrypted signals depends directly on the software that runs on each device. Thus, in practice, the availability of illegal software for a device, as well as the latter’s ability to run said software, are the key factors to determine to which category a given receiver belongs. Most of the time, illegal software does not come pre-installed on the equipment; the users must download these programs and install them. This is why the manufacturers of illegal devices tend  to argue that they not have any relationship with any of the writers of illegal software, so, in their view, their devices are legal.

However, not only the existence of said software is of interest to the manufacturers of illegal devices, users have to find it and easily download it into their devices. This interaction is what allows this fraudulent system to work. Therefore, in practice, it is possible to identify illegal device models, as they are precisely those for which illegal software is readily available, being designed with the required hardware and interfaces to make this process smooth. It is useful to point out that each illegal device model needs its own version of the software, so the development of illegal software demands deep knowledge of the technical specifications of the corresponding device.

 When illegal is mentioned within the framework of this document, it must be 
interpreted as use for unauthorized purposes 

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