Card Sharing UK: or How people get Sky HD TV, Sports, Sky movies for free using a minidish, the internet and a Dreambox DM800HD and why it is wrong….

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October 12, 2011
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October 20, 2011

This post contains a detailed technical description of how card sharing works as well as how we stumbled onto this activity.

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Recently did a shot for our long term art photographic project called “Workers”, there is no one paying us, it is a bit of “personal work” as they used to call it. That process led us into contact with some little known illegal activity, namely the decoding of premium sky TV satalite broadcast without paying SKY. I have a few friends who worked for sky in the UK and I guess there jobs depend on Mr Murdoch making enough profit to pay them each month, so we decided that we would explain in detail (and expose) this little know activity to everyone who is interested, you can then understand it completely and hopefully judge it for what it is…

What we stumbled on was a “free” HD system was blaring out nonstop Sky TV, sport and movies; what was very interesting was that it was made of simple kit that one could get from a number of shops locally or online (see below), and an all important internet address where one can instantly download the latest sky codes for free – and what is quite amazing is almost anyone could copy this set up and get “free” Sky TV, the whole system cost less than quarter the cost of a years subscription to the top Sky package, and as well as being free, the setup we saw actually works better in some ways… But before I go into technical detail of how it all functions –  a little backstory.

We have been doing this photography project for a long time and we have photographed, mechanics, doctors, shoemakers, singers, ministers, prostitutes in there places of work. We are not judging people, just showing how, in our times these different individuals go about there ordinary professional lives though our photography. On our list of modern professions was drugs selling.The sale of hard drugs is illegal as it gets, but is a large part of the huge invisible economy that a sizeable sector of our society rely upon and thus something we felt we needed to photograph, certainly if we were going to tell a complete history of work in the UK. As I have never touched drugs (police family) I asked a property developer that I know (who is well know to have made his first million in the sale of drugs at large scale rave parties in the 90’s) if he could help us find and photograph a willing and large scale drug dealer (with a great face if possible). He said he could help me, but took three days before he provided me with PAG mobile number and an all important recommendation that we were real photographers and we had photographer a number of A-list celebrities,  they were apparently impressed by our work with Puff Daddy, Usher, Xzibit and Kelly Brook? Welcome to “The Wire” west London style…

After some negotiation by phone and checking with my references, I was picked up in Shepard’s Bush on foot and given a pair of sunglasses that were painted black on the inside to serve as a blindfold and not get too much attention, I was carefully led to a car, then driven for a while and then led to a flat on an estate i think, somewhere in close by but for sure in west london. There I was led past a large number of people into a front room (where i could finally take off my blindfold/glasses), I will not go into the scene too much here (come to our next exhibition and see the picture), but i never saw an drugs at all i got the feeling that some were close.  The room had closed curtains and the scenario was strangely dominated by the flicker of a muted 50′ 1080p plasma TV and the sky Movies playing of all things – Scarface. As I considered the irony and the intentions of my portrait subject (still to make his appearance on this scene) I admired the great 1080p picture with a look of cinematic wonder on my face. Suddenly a slightly proud but also slightly menacing voice came from behind me, offering in sort of explanation; “Cee Cee Cam init, Sky for free, football,movies, porn, everything, everything free” I quickly turned around and gave the person standing behind me a look of puzzlement, (as i had no idea what he meant by CCcam) he smiled a smile that would have done a hyena justice (he was part of the scary security, he looked like a very skinny deadly part of the security but maybe that was just me…) never the less he, with great care, explained how card sharing worked and answered my several detailed technical questions. I was amazed that this was possible, let alone quite easy to set up and use.

So this is exactly how it works (will try to explain all the concept of digital TV encryption and decryption as I go):

Satellite TV was once FTA or fee to air; that means that anyone with a simple dish pointed the exact right place in the heavens and receiver could see those channels like normal TV. A younger Mr Murdoch who owns Sky and other services, realised many years ago, that rather than just sell adverts they could could encrypted the channels and sell people the means to decode the signal: No pay No Television, easy.

Since the very beginning a device called a Cam unencrypts the signal, this is an extension to the receiver box itself, those original analogue cams’ internal function varies depending on the type of encryption (with thousands of channels on satellite TV there are several forms of encryption used around the world and a different cam for each was needed), some receivers have more than one cam build in to them or a slot where the Cam can be removed and changed. The sky box has just one cam for its own kind of encryption method. The CCcam is a virtual or soft wear cam, it emulates just about every cam ever made in one… very clever bit of community soft wear that is free to down load from hundreds of sites on line.

The final piece of the puzzle to unlock the TV signal is the encryption code key, this is a numerical sequence like a password that will unlock the encryption, it is provided by the company that encrypts the signal in the first place i.e. Sky etc. This code needs to get into the cam so that it can complete it’s work. But people are not expected to input a very long numerical password themselves so it comes in the form of a special card that is supplied by the company, this card fits into a slot on the receiver or in the cam module and if the card is up to date hey presto – You are able to watch your premiership Football etc.

Within a few months of this system being established people had figured ways to copy the cards and sell the counterfeits. This started a long game of cat and mouse between those wishing to sell TV subscriptions and those wishing to copy these and sell or give them away for free. The TV companies eventually realised that what they needed to do was to change the code regularly so that it would be impractical to copy it and distribute these replacement codes, firstly they changed them every month and sent out a new card every four weeks-  but that did not really work as the counterfeiters invented re-programable cards that people could be reset at home with the aid of a PC and a card reader/writer. Then the TV companies invented cards that updated the codes dynamically, self changing continuously in a way that could not be copied and was so fast that distribution of the new codes would be impractical, but some people got very fluent at finding “that days'” codes on the internet and putting them in. So we have now reached the point where the codes update every few seconds making it near impossible to manually enter codes before they are changed. For a while things looked good for Mr Murdock as the hole in the system seem to have been plugged.

So how is this system now being cheated so elegantly today? As you can imagine, like almost everything these days, the internet is the answer. The first bit of kit is the HD satellite receiver, but the device I saw in west London was the state of the art £140 Dreambox DM800HD. The interesting tiny box is openly on sale in most satellite TV shops, it is actually a very small computer, with a satellite tuner and HDMI output built in, it only needs to be connected to a satellite dish, your TV and the internet to give free Sky TV. Also this receiver/computer is basically capable of anything that a computer can do, to keep things inexpensive it uses the extremely good and totally free UNIX operating system instead of Windows.  The clever part is that the cam is no longer an actual physical device but is actually an emulation (kind of a virtual cam in software) this enables the device to decode any number of different encryption systems without needing to change a cam ever, the most popular virtual cam is the well know “CCcam” it is just a little bit of clever soft wear written by a consortium of dedicated volunteers and hacker computer geeks. The final piece of the puzzle is the key code number normally supplied by the TV channel , and as you can imagine this is provided in real time live over the internet, all that is needed is that one person (anywhere in the world ) has a legitimate Sky card that they put into a computer (or the Dreambox can be used for this too) and they can share the codes it produces almost instantly with any number of people via a simple internet connection. There are lots of people who do this for free across the world of the internet, though you will find people who will do this for a small fee a tiny fraction of that charge by the original TV company, because these people can resell the same codes many times over they can quickly turn a profit on this procedure. the user gets to watch expensive TV content for a very modest charge.

 

So what do people need to do to and buy to make this work for them in their own homes? Unfortunately for the satellite TV companies it seems that they need very little, a dish, an intelligent  programable receiver like the dream box DM 800HD (but there are several others), some special software called an “image” with is basically the program that runs the receiver, the Cam with is basically a sub-program that un-encrypts the signals, a connection to the internet, and finally sky (or whatever service) codes for someone who presumably has a legitimate card and is willing to share: hence the name of this game “card sharing”. The way the receiver is told how to locate the server it needs and the password to log into it in order to establish connection, is done via a short line of computer text called a C-line, it is a short internet address like a www. and it tells the receiver exactly where to find the latest unlock codes as it needs them. It will then update them as frequently as needed to be able to watch TV without any interruption. “Clines” as they are called can be bought (for about £5 a month for the full sky package) from a variety of different people over the internet, often based in countries that must be beyond the reach of the authorities…some people give clines away or they often exchanged between people, i.e. A give’s you Sky you give them Virgin lines etc etc it is basically very easy to do. The cline needs putting in the device once only and if it works it will update it self as needed! Needless to say the owners of the content and the TV companies are not well pleased.

 

I looked around the net for some free ones to et an idea of how complex this might be to set up:  it is about as basic as copying and pasting a line of text: A typical C-line for a CCcam takes this form-          C: <hostname> <port> <username> <password> <wantmus> { caid:id:uphops,caid:id:uphops, etc,etc }   with real values it is about 100 characters long, that’s not much effort for free sky football, movies, everything except the on demand stuff plus all the other channels that may be included, some services online claim to offer full Sky Italia (with the best football package in the world: Calcio)  and loads of movie packages from around the globe. The guys in the Bush told me they were paying about £7 per month and they just about had everything, at least one subscription TV service from france, italy, germany, holland, poland, spain, russia, etc etc. I think I must have counted about 500 premium channels that my guide flicked me though in the tour I received. You might ask what is the point of having so much free subscription TV in languages you can’t understand? Thats where speaking english seems to be an advantage (for once) as nearly all films made in english are shown that way by foreign TV companies! plus most of the sports sam to have an alternative soundtrack in english, this meant changing the sound track to the B track on the satellite receiver sound menu (it seemed to remember the setting for all and each channel, so you could leave them set to english, meaning it did not have to be done twice, handy.

So was it real? some of you have asked. Maybe they had an honest sky box under the stairs and the whole thing is a scam for selling fake recover boxes… Good point, so to test the thing out we purchased a c line via pay pal of all things, and i took it to a friend who has a Dreambox DM800, and it was very complicated to set up, the sever was in Russia and did not work, (I published this Cline here but was asked to take it down as it might help people decided on the best was to copy the setup). So convinced what we had seen was real we risked a few more dollars (the prices for the clines are often in euros or dollars) and tried again and this time it worked flawlessly and was as easy as copy and pasting the line into the box via a computer and a £2 cable, the cline server this time was based in Algeria and was all too easy to buy online via a popular auction site. Proving without a doubt that this whole activity is perfectly real and if we can do it anyone can do it. The quality was quite frankly AMAZING, I rather suspect there is no difference between HD from this box win this way and skys own equipment, the german Dreambox actually looked a little better in terms of sharpness, compression and colour fidelity to my professional eye but a huge amount depends on the TV used. I have to admit my friend sort of wanted to keep using the cline once he had seen it work, -just to watch a little football “now and then” – and he is what one would call a very honest person, but when I explained to him that thousands of peoples jobs are at stake if everyone chose to just “not pay”, things looked different, but who is saying this to the general public? No one it seems…

 

We have to admit,as professional photographers who work with computers we were amazed at the ingenuity and the technology that has been invested here, but it should be no surprise that people do this, I guess the problem is the whopping £700 that the full sky thing costs for a year, is seen as so much and the desire to see some of the content (esp the sports) is so great, that people have gone to these lengths on both sides…but then we live in strange times…. we are all hackers, and consumers of copies in some way, large companies all rip each other off when they can, like it or not. Normal people get caught up in this selfishness, and so it is not a very difficult step to becoming a criminal.  Maybe all this seems like some “computer fun”, and “full wow 1080p HDTV for free!”  At first it seems a victimless crime… but not quite.

The main problem I foresee with all this; is not just mr Murdock loosing a few dollars, that it is not just the dodgy legality stuff,  it is the fact the the TV and film industry will loose money they need to make decent programs, and in that we will all be poorer when these obviously popular (and less popular but good) channels go away because of lack of revenue. A free lunch is not often with out cost…

Finally what can poor old Mr Murdock and TV companies do to stop this? right now not much…. I foresee one of four outcomes:

1) All sky TV etc becomes over the net on demand style,

2) All the sky boxes use a new type of encryption that is very hard to make a cam for i.e. 256 bit

3) They stop the whole card thing and people must get there codes on line live though an account, which sky will cut off at any time if the catch people sharing…

4) They can try shut it down, close websites talking dealing in card sharing, and put pressure on the courts to give big fines and even sentences to some people involved in selling or possibly even buying card sharing in the UK, in the hope that a series of show trials might put people off.

 

In short, what we think… the only thing that is going to stop this very real activity in the short term, in our opinion is if we all realise what we see when we see it and understand that this is: a form of stealing, and shun it, and the people using it for what it is.

 

 

PS Obviously do not try and do this yourself it is almost with out doubt not legal to watch encrypted TV without paying the right people for it,!

This is not a guide on how to do it, there are no links to bad stuff on this site. This post is just an explanation of something fascinating we have seen that we have exposed for you all to understand and see.

 

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Even more amazing as you read this far, would you be kind enough to share or like this page using the share link on the top right?

 

 

 

 

shooter 3

23 Comments

  1. Jeffie says:

    I’am shocked, I must say. Really infrequently will I encounter a blog that’s both educative and enjoyable, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head this is a strange business and ultimately will ruin TV production. This is something which not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I am happy that stumbled across this in my try to find something about it.

  2. Don H says:

    Great stuff! Seriously

  3. Criss says:

    Didnt you forget to mention, that the intension of this was to share a card local at home on different receivers for not to pay for a 2nd, 3rd.. eg if you want to use one in the livingroom and one in your bedroom?

    Btw your Share Button drives me crazy, on kindle fire it disturbes by reading.

    Nevertheless, besides the boring introduction, a good article

    Nevertheless,

  4. AMS says:

    Hi,
    you forgot to mention that its the same Mr Murdoch, the owner of the NOTW and other newspapers in his media empire that have ruined, upset,ILLEGALY hacked into lives of the people like us. now has made himself and his immediate family and business partners billionaires from the misfortune and misrepsenting the lives of other people.

    • Steve says:

      A great read! You guys properly went IN for this! Amazing what you can ind on the net and I agree… why should we all be worried about nicking sky for free when this twat Murdoch has had a strangle hold on UK TV and media for so many years and is at the helm of a dodgy news corporation? And lets face it, the news we get fed from his coproration is filtered to suit… Bravo!

  5. great really enjoyed reading the post has some great factual information

  6. dreambox 7025 says:

    You have show me the light, I was a sinner and now I know… That’s why this post is amazing. Thanks!

  7. Dave says:

    Sky wont go out of business with these its neither widespread enough or fully user friendly to set up. I used to have one and it was an awesome gadget to have but I also had sky for the HD and its other features I just couldn’t justify paying £70 for the full package but they still had a fair decent sub fee out of me. On a side note whose the blonde in the pic above, she well hot and that smile…

    • Shooter One says:

      If you are sure? We can email you the link to her website, she answers her fan mail herself. Beware though, she was as kinky as hell and quite sarcastic. Some time after the slow motion Video shoot that still is taken from, the 1st assistant (female) told her (for a joke) that we were going to ask her to do it nude, but ran out of time, to which she replied with a wink “why didn’t you ask me to stay longer? that would have been fun!” As it was, we have never dare put the video up on our Vimeo channel as it would probably get us banned, They both looked like they were enjoying it waaaaaaaay too much!

  8. ali says:

    you think your smart getting this info from some idiot who cant keep their moutth shut then post it on the web ? as if your doing a great service ?
    This sort of thing has been going on since 1989, its really for people who can “read between the lines” and are knowledgeable enough to do the research and take a free bite , theres only a very small amount of people on this earth that do that .
    But idiots like you trying to grab a headline spoil this for the genuine experimenters, you just handed on a plate to eveery knumbskull on the web that reaklly dont deserve it at all for no effort
    Yeah give yourselfs a real pat on the back = clowns amateurs

    • Shooter One says:

      You might have noticed from the title of the post, that we are actually not “for” this activity at all. But as most people do not believe that this is even possible, and we found the whole thing very interesting, we think that this article deserves it’s place. Thank you for writing Ali, We appreciate you putting your point.

  9. rune says:

    The best review I have read on the subject!!

    thanks you

  10. Mearcat says:

    Well done. That’s the best information I have found about this .
    Some dodgy bugger is trying to sell me one of these boxes for £250

  11. Cardsharing says:

    The encryption is “cracked” or “circumnavigated” enabling you to view Sky UK Channels by using software decoders (CAM’s) like CCcam/NewcamD/MGcam. This is not limited to Sky UK, many European and other countries use the same encryption for their satellite service, each crackable in the same way.
    The encryption is called VideoGuard and was created by NDS (Who make other encryption as well), Sky pay to use NDS’s VideoGuard encryption to protect their channels from being decrypted, obviously its not working and Sky and NDS are losing money because of this. The company that will come after you if you sell a cardsharing service is NDS (and FACT, Federation of Copyright Theft) as it is NDS’s encryption algorithms that have been cracked, Sky just use it as it was the most secure back in the day. Recently there has been some change in the VideoGuard scrambling and the HD channels should have stopped working, this may be a sign of things to come and all the channels could be encrypted in the same way as the HD channels are now. This could be the end to Cardsharing.

  12. David says:

    Maybes if the satellite TV companies charged a reasonable price for their services people wouldn’t resort to privacy.

    This is nothing new. In the 1990s I had a “card” for Eurocrypt for watching Norwegian/Swedish channels on Thor satellite at 5e and 1w as well as on 19.2e. Remember TV1000 and TV3?

  13. Inny says:

    Good intro, maybe if football players didnt demand

    so fckin much wages,TV subs wouldnt be as high….

    • Shooter One says:

      Can’t blame the soccer players for taking the big wages, any guy from a poor background will, and those from money would even act like they deserve it… go and support your local small team, the skills are probably lower but the effort and passion is often far greater… and all amazingly for almost no money…

  14. jetskifatty says:

    Hi huys.
    I have been a loyal customer of Sky for years.
    We were charge more and more and more time after time by them without being notified that our subscription was increasing. I complained to Sky, they said “sorry but you should have noticed in your bank account”. No offer of refund, they actually refused. So, I will now be buying and setting this up to recoup the money lost to these crooks. Screw Rupert Birdmuck and all his bloody crooked cronies. POWER TO THE PEOPLE.

  15. Tom says:

    doesn’t it use LINUX not UNIX?

  16. James says:

    @jetskifatty, I too have been a long time user of Sky.
    But I must admit for the last four years I have REFUSED to pay full price, because Sky uses a ‘Half Price’ tactic to get customer to stay with them. and as long as they still offer this cut price offer to customers that have left, I will continue to demand the same, at each and every annual renewal..and so far I’m still paying half price!

  17. James says:

    Great article by the way!

  18. DAKNIGHT says:

    sky rob the people
    so do virgin internet
    let`s hope this activity goes on for a long time
    shame there aint a way for cheaper internet also
    maybe these companies who let`s face it are living very well may make things affordable for the general public

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