Murdoch sends ME a paycheck occasionally, I don't really care how he made his money. It cashes the same as a Government welfare check....
News of the World is not the first Murdoch company to be accused of skullduggery. Murdochs Pirates is about the dark deeds of a secret division of News Corp, based in Jerusalem, operating in a combustible world of ambitious ex Scotland Yard men and former French and Israeli secret service agents, who have one thing in common - they have all left their previous employment under controversial circumstances. NDS produces smart cards for use by pay TV operators; this is a fiercely competitive field and one of the ways you get business is to demonstrate that the smart cards produced by your rivals can be easily pirated. Unless you are very careful, sometimes those pirated versions make their way out into the real world, where they can really damage your competitors businesses. Murdochs Pirates reads like a thriller, set in the arcane world of hackers and pirates. There are mysterious deaths, break-ins and wild chases. Some of the individuals involved may well be amongst the brightest minds on the planet, but sometimes their rivalry can get out of hand and their impulsive behaviour can defy logic. Chenoweth recounts this clandestine war with his customary lucidity, drollery and brio.
This is NOT SPAM - If you want to find more about it search with google, it's for PUBLIC KNOWLEGE and if you want to test a forum to see if they are funded or supported by a big CAS company quoted on that book, just post this post and if they remove it, ban the user, it would definitely mean that the forum is owned by that large CAS.
For FREEDOM of information and for uncensored internet, to let us know all us the truth and not to be manipulated by large medias organisations and their spy/army arm !
TS or Hannibal ;o)
Murdoch sends ME a paycheck occasionally, I don't really care how he made his money. It cashes the same as a Government welfare check....
How's that whole 'Hopey Changey' thingy working out for ya?
Ray Adams’ spy network at Cambridge University: NewsCorp/NDS has its sources
Posted on November 6, 2012 by neilchenoweth
One of the lesser known features of the ring of agents that former Scotland Yard Commander Ray Adams ran for NewsCorp/NDS was that he had an informant placed at Cambridge University to spy on its cryptology work.
It’s become something of a cliché, the relationship between Cambridge and various spy agencies. But corporations getting involved in spying at university—or rather a media company having spies at a university—seems to me to take it all to a whole different level,
Ray Adams, European head of Operational Security for NDS, was concerned to keep tabs on Markus Kuhn, who was finishing his Ph D at Cambridge in the late 1990s, and Professor Ross Anderson.
NDS had a codename—Castor—for Kuhn. When I told him about it earlier this year he said he found it quite amusing—“sounds all a bit like childish spy games”.
The NDS email correspondence makes it clear they watched Markus very closely, in part because of concern over his friendship with Oliver Koemmerling, which they feared might lead to disclosure of NDS’s operations.
Yossi Tsuria wrote to Oliver at some length about this danger. Markus was no long working on smartcards. However in the email exchange below it’s clear that there were grounds for concern over Markus’s acuity. But Adams correctly concluded it wasn’t a danger.
In any case, he said, “Also bear in mind that I have a source at his workplace.”
In Adams’ world, a source was not a casual association. It was a paid informant, if not an active agent.
Adams gave no further indications of who his informant was. “I have a total of 17 agents,” he had told John Norris, US head of NDS Op Sec, three months before.
The payroll for all these informants and the rest of NDS Operational Security in Britain came to more than £1 million for a six-month period. And that was only one part of the worldwide NDS OpSec operation. Agents or informants appeared on the NDS budget under “Consultancy”. Contacts was a highly elastic term. The largest expense was ADSR, Oliver Koemmerling’s company.
Security Information £44,856.83
The email exchange that mentions Adams’ Cambridge “source” is below. The email chain reads from the bottom. Reuven Hasak is the head of Operational Security. Marc (Cyberdine) is Oliver Koemmerling. RA is Professor Ross Anderson. Yossi is Yossi Tsuria, NDS chief technology officer. Adi is Adi Shamir, the Israeli academic whose Fiat-Shamir algorithm was the basis for NDs encryption.
From: Adams, Ray RAdams@ndsuk
Sent: Friday, January 22, 1999 4:01 AM
To: Hasak, Reuven; cyberdyne@euro1
Cc: Adams, Ray
Subject: RE: fishers fritz fishes fresh fish
Marc and I discussed.
It is our belief that MK knows enough to be certain. He is a very intelligent man. Anyway we are also convinced that he does not pose a threat and will not repeat outside. Also bear in mind that I have a source at his workplace.
So we will just let it die. I do not think it will be raised again.
From: Hasak, Reuven
Sent: 21 January 1999 15:58
Subject: RE: fishers fritz fishes fresh fish
My initial approach is NOT to disclose the fact to MK (and naturely it goes from MK to RA).etc.
We have to bear in mind that now when NDS does have open contacts with the two, will cause that in case they know of Alex it will become a common knowledge and we’ll lose control on it.
The response to MK should be vague and leave him UNCONFIRMED. Alex answer should be ” Yes, NDs tried to be a friend/customer—-let them try…..” The same respose should come from Yossi, in case he’ll be asked.
BTW—-Yossi SHOULD take part in this decision because he is the one to have contacts with all the three: Alex/Mk/Ra. I’ll communicate with Yossi .
If we leave it like this, it will be just one more rumor about Alex (though I am aware to the fact that MK is closer to alex than others).The maximum will be that MK will ask others.
I find out it is too early to take a disclosure approach, we do not have to hurry disclosing the fact. Let us exchange opinions and get together to a smart decision.
From: Marc [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, January 21, 1999 11:21 AM
Subject: fishers fritz fishes fresh fish
At 21:13 20.01.99 +0200, you wrote:
> Is there possibility that MK is aware that you are one of us?
> Reuven Hasak
id like to know what happened to make you suspecting this cause MK asked me the same thing tonight.
i think he knows already and looking for acknowledge. i told Yossi after ross came to me that he got the 1 needle trick from adi and also adi told ross that he has an NDA and can not talk about it. but what he say’ed was enough for ross to figure out the trick. when i had the argument with Marcus to remove that from the paper he told me that they know it from adi since this technique is very unlikely and unique they must wonder on which way the information is floating. even ross told me in the face when he was here either you told nds or you told somebody who told nds.in this statement ross is not talking about adi anymore he talks about nds so i assume that adi told him that he has an nda with nds when he discussed the trick with ross, otherwise ross would not have mentioned nds instead of adi in his statement.
so the answer to your question is yes their is a very big chance that he knows unless MK is superstitious and belive that Adi Shamir is a= fortuneteller.
As i know Marcus i don’t see a big problem but i think it would be more safe to tell him about it cause i think he will handle the information more
carefully If he is trusted by us.
———–here my translation of his message=
yesterday we had visited nds in heathrow. i belive more and more that they belong to your customers. as a test i mentioned your name to Yossi several times and observed his reaction carefully.
if he would know you just passively then i would expect to get his interest but instead he looked aside for a moment and his face showed an expression as you name embarrasses him somehow. many people are as easy to read out as smart cards. so no more excuses.
—————- here the German message from markus —————–
Gestern haben wir NDS in Heathrow besucht. Ich glaube immer mehr,dass die irgendwie zu deinen Kunden geh=F6ren. Ich habe zum Test mehrfach deinen Namen genannt, so getan als ob die dich kennen m=FCssten, und dabei Yossi’s Reaktion genau beobachtet. Wenn er dich nur passiv kennen und beobachten w=FCrde, dann h=E4tte ich eigentlich erwartet, dass sein Blick sehr aufmehrsam und interessiert auf mich gerichtet bleibt. Statt dessen hat er aber sofort seitlich weggesehen und hatte einen Gesichtsausdruck als ob ihm dein Name peinlich w=E4re und er eigentlich nichts davon h=F6ren will. Viele Leute sind fast so einfach auszulesen wie Chipkarten. A
Last edited by olympusom; 11-06-2012 at 08:32 AM. Reason: live links(email)
The US Customs undercover op that came unstuck: NewsCorp/NDS’s discreet silence
Posted on November 4, 2012 by neilchenoweth
The 1998-99 undercover operation that followed NewsCorp/NDS’s success with Operation Johnny Walker in North America remains shrouded in mystery.
It’s almost as if there were two separate undercover operations. One was a huge success, a coup for US Custom and the FBI that triggered headlines across the United States. The other operation, as described in NDS internal emails, careered out of control.
John Norris’s email of August 24 1999 reads like a classic example of an operational stuff-up, the carefully controlled phrases covering what must be close to panic and despair: “The skills of the hackers in the field continue to impress me unfortunately . . . The Eurocard must somehow die and stay dead….”
Norris’s great rival, Ray Adams in London, could hardly restrain his satisfaction at Norris’s plight. “This is what you said all along,” he wrote to Oliver Koemmerling.
The public and private descriptions of what happened are very different. And yet they seem to refer to the same operation. There are three sets of accounts of what happened. The first is what Chris Tarnovsky, the hacker who worked as an undercover agent for NDS Operational Security out of California, and his boss John Norris, testified in the 2008 EchoStar trial.
Tarnovsky was asked about Operation Smartcard.
“I worked with U.S. Customs out of Blaine, Washington, on an operation where they were selling counterfeit DirecTV.”
It was a sting where Customs officers actually sold pirate cards for DirecTV, which were based closely on the pirate cards developed by Ron Ereiser’s dealer group.
“So the same ECM [Electronic Counter Measure] that I already designed would knock both Ron out and the Customs operation out when this was finished, when it was determined to pull the plug on the operation.,”
John Norris, the US head of NDS Operational Security, also testified about Operaton Smartcard:
“It was approximately a year-long operation headed by United States Customs out of Washington State. At the time I read a Customs document, it was the largest fraud investigation in United States Customs not related to drugs . . . Operation Smart Card was focused on identifying and prosecuting large distributors of pirated DirecTV, NDS technology within the borders of the United States. NDS provided intelligence and assistance on this operation in addition to technology that we provided to U.S. Customs.
Norris was asked how NDS handled concerns that pirates would be able to keep using the pirate cards after the operation finished. He said,
“An effort was made to write software that could be downloaded from the satellite to the footprint on — in the United States that would deactivate or disable those specific Smart Cards….
Q Do you believe that Operation Smart Card was a success?
Version 2 of Operation Smartcard is the string of media reports about it on August 9 2000. Martin Crutsinger of Associated Press described Operation Smartcard as a 22-month undercover sting that kicked off in September 1998, in which
“undercover agents sold counterfeit access cards they called ‘Eurocards’ through an Internet business created by Customs agents. By the time the Customs Service terminated the undercover portion of the operation in June 1999, agents had sold 3,195 illegal cards to dealers and 382 cards to individuals, generating more than $516,000, which was turned over to the U.S. Treasury, officials said.
“In July 1999, DirecTV used electronic countermeasures to shut down all of the pirated cards sold through the governments Web site.”
Four people had pleaded guilty to felony charges and another seven people had been charged, Crutsinger reported.
It was a joint Customs and Treasury anti-counterfeiting operation. The key term is counterfeiting, which puts it in the province of the US Secret Service out of Treasury.
A DirecTV spokesman was quoted in the new reports as praising the investigation.
Version 3 of Operation Smartcard emerges from NDS internal emails which were on the hard drive of Ray Adams, European chief for NDS Operational Security.
Tarnovsky had designed the Electronic Counter Measure (ECM) broadcast by DirecTV on July 6 1998 that killed the Eurocards sold by Customs. Four days later with all of the pirate cards out of commission, Tarnovsky was gloating over an email from Ron Ereiser to Bulgarian hacker Plamen Donev, in which Ereiser suggested the ECM offered a theory of what had gone wrong with the cards.
Negative houston! They just don’t have a clue… The jumps were just a bluff actually and they bought if and totally missed the real reason the kill is not revivable! Heheheheheheh I love it when a plan comes together!
But six weeks later on August 23, NDS online researcher Ted Rose reported that several Canadian sites claimed that they could repair the Eurocards.
Norris replied the following day confirming that this was correct. He summarised the position. NDS had prepared two versions of a pirate software called Montana for the Customs operation. But there had been a second piece of pirate programming called Van, prepared for an undercover operative called Myron.
Within six months Tarnovsky had discovered that the Van pirate cards had been ripped off by another pirate, who then began reselling his own version of the Van program called Ring of Steel. At this point then, which would have been around March 1999, the Van program had escaped NDs control and was in the wild.
NDS had believed that hackers would not be able to crack their pirate products but neither the Van nor the two Montana cards turned out to be safe:
“The hackers were eventually able to dump the technology and sell it as their own…. It took 6-7 weeks after the July 6 ecm but now, the hackers have discovered how to repair the Eurocards :-( This is confirmed – not rumors.
Norris said the RCMP was moving slowly but would eventually ask NDS for an ECM to kill the pirate cards off, this time for good.
We must remember however, that when they tell us to shut off the Eurocards, we must be able to respond accordingly (there will be no problem with DTV assuming the moratorium is over explained that there were two parts to the operation.
Whatever this countermeasure is going to be, I hope and trust it will be the mother of all countermeasures. The Eurocard must somehow die and stay dead…
In short, Norris was saying, NDS had to find a way to kill these cards, but six weesk down the track he knew of no way to do so; and he thought DirecTV would not “assuming the moratorium” is over.
That was the moratorium under which NDs had promised not to run any undercover operations in North America without DirecTV’s approval. Norris seems to be saying DirecTV had not been consulted.
NDS appears to have taken the view that if they were assisting law enforcement, there was no need for DirecTV approval. In fact, Norris did not seem to know when the moratorium would expire.
At that point then, US Customs had been involved in selling pirate cards which were still functioning, without DirecTV’s knowledge. It appeared many more had been pirated from the cards sold by Customs. Court cases at that time had put the cost to DirecTV of piracy at $10,000 for every card sold. The 3,577 cards sold by US Customs would have cost DirecTV $35.77 million, and millions more from the re-pirated cards.
All apparently without DirecTV’s knowledge.
What was the outcome? At some NDS must have found a way to kill its pirate cards though the Ray Adams emails shed no further light on this. A year after Norris’s email, US Customs went public, reporting the 11 people charged. The announcement was paired with new of another series of piracy arrests organised by DirecTV. It was common cause that it was all a major coup.
After Toronto: NewsCorp/NDS makes a winning play
Posted on November 1, 2012 by neilchenoweth
The next NewsCorp/NDS undercover operation after the debacle in Toronto would be played straight by the book—perhaps for that reason, it was one of NDS’s successful operations.
In September 1997 Ray Adams, European chief for NDS Operational Security, had told his boss Reuven Hasak of his plan to provide 1000 blank smartcards to help a European hacker codenamed Ilean perfect his pirate hack of digital Irdeto cards used by News Corp competitors.
In October 1997, Adams had sent Oliver Koemmerling to Toronto to pose as a pirate hacker, only to have NDS’s client DirecTV alert the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the FBI to put out a Stop and Detain alert for Oliver. The NDS hacker fled over the border into the US, then was flown discreetly back to Europe.
In the days following, DirecTV security chief Larry Rissler, the head of Signal Integrity, forced NDS’s John Norris to admit that Oliver worked for NDS.
DirecTV was outraged that NDS had pulled an undercover operation, offering to priate DirecTV cards as a cover, without telling them. With the future of the business at stake, NDS was forced to agree to a moratorium on any further undercover operations that were not approved by NDS.
So in November 1997, NDS pitched a new operation and won DirecTV’s approval. It was called Operation Johnny Walker, and it was the first undercover operation by Chris Tarnovsky, who had become a full-time NDS employee on July 1. Tarnovsky had previously worked as a programmer for Canadian pirate Ron Ereiser using the name ‘biggun’.
The plan was recorded in an NDS internal email dated November 24 1997. Tarnovsky would produce pirate software and pirate programmer devices on order from a group of Canadian pirate dealers, which would be engineered in a way that meant that the pirate cards they produced could be “killed” by an electronic counter measure by DirecTV.
The object was to disrupt the pirates’ business model and cashflow. And it was all subject to getting approval from Larry Rissler at DirecTV.
Ron Ereiser said later that the warning lights were there that Tarnovsky was working for NDS, but at the time “I didn’t have a clue.”
Tarnovsky testified about his undercover role in the 2008 EchoStar trial. The trickiest moment was when one of the pirates saw from his ticket that he had caught a connecting flight to meet them in Calgary via Dallas, Texas.
NDS had secretly moved Tarnovsky and his family to southern California to live, which was why his ticket went via Dallas, but his cover story was that he lived in Virginia.
Tarnovsky testified that one of the dealers “threatened to break my legs or my knees or something, some part of my lower body, if he ever found out that I was a ‘narc’”.
It’s not clear how real the threat to Tarnovsky was. But the operation as a whole received DirecTV’s approval and it appears to have been an outstanding success.
This makes it all the more surprising then, that the following year when NDS initiated another undercover operation, which appears to have been within the moratorium period, they did it without DirecTV’s knowledge. Perhaps even more surprisingly, it ran into problems.
More here, last interview,
Please do not post live links to outside sites.
Last edited by cruzat; 11-26-2012 at 12:12 AM. Reason: edited live link
Kindle version at Amazon available, worldwide ;o), just bought it here in Europe, 14 Euro for my Kindle too !! ;o)))), seen cheaper at UK Amazon 7£, and US I think 17$
P.S.: Thank you for the advise. Will be carefull about it. Thanks !
Article on the SMH, in Australia,
Stranger than fiction
Date: December 29, 2012
By Neil Chenoweth, Allen & Unwin, 432pp.
Reviewer: RICHARD THWAITES
Murdoch's Pirates by Neil Chenoweth. Published by Allen & Unwin, November 2012.
This book reads like a spy novel, but the combatants work for private corporations, not states. There are no innocent parties, only winners and losers, in a world where law is seen as a tool and business ethics are for wimps. And because it is true, the story raises serious questions over the ability of national governments to provide a business environment in which rule of law can be taken seriously.
The competition is for control of a small item costing $2 - the credit card-size smart cards that give access to satellite pay TV. The security of those cards is the key to billions of dollars in pay TV revenues. Since the inception of pay television, independent hackers and organised pirate rings have repeatedly broken the codes to provide unauthorised access via a black market in forged smart cards.
Naturally, investors in pay TV have fought back to defend their revenues. News Corporation, planning a global satellite-television empire, acquired its own card security development company - News Datacom (later NDS). It was based in Israel and employed mainly former Israeli military and intelligence operatives. Its first chief executive turned out to be a convicted American swindler on the run from US authorities, but the staff were expert in their fields. Their primary task was to develop the DataCrypt system for New Corporation's pay TV systems.
But as Chenoweth writes, NDS also ran intelligence operations against pirate card makers and against New Corporation's competitors. They infiltrated the internet chatrooms where hackers would boast about their achievements, developed contacts and recruited agents. They employed former police detectives and intelligence operatives for many nationalities, including a former head of Scotland Yard's criminal intelligence bureau. These agents used their contacts with state agencies, bugged phones, burgled homes, set traps and employed every device familiar to readers of crime fiction - with apparent disdain for the law. As in the high times of maritime piracy, one man's pirate would be another man's privateer.
In this shady world, hackers and agents were often on police watch lists of one kind or another, so they were flown around the world with false passports. The senior NDS officer responsible for undercover operations in Australia and East Asia was the wife of an Israeli diplomat, based in Taiwan. Her job was to protect the interests of News Corporation.
Whenever someone was caught out or things got sticky, the massive political, legal and public relations resources of News Corporation could usually protect them. If an operation was exposed too blatantly, agents would be jettisoned and denied. In one case, Chenoweth writes that News pretended to be suing a hacker who was, in fact, on their own payroll.
The most creative hackers were often difficult individuals. One seems to have been murdered, KGB-style, in a Berlin park, after eastern European gangsters concluded he was a threat to their lucrative piracy business. Another on the NDS payroll was arrested in a Bulgarian bar after shooting another man in a drunken rage.
By Chenoweth's account, this activity went well beyond defending a legitimate business against criminal attack. News Corporation was accused of using its smart card ''security'' operations to damage its competitors. News wanted its NDS card system to be the standard everywhere, but there were several European and American competitors in the smart card business.
When big contracts were coming up for review, there were suspiciously frequent public releases of codes to crack the cards of NDS's competitors. The main victims of these sabotage releases were the American services DIRECTV and EchoStar, and the French Canal Plus. These corporations established their own intelligence operations to find out what was going on and for several years there was running underground warfare. In the heat of it, some star European and American hackers seem to have been double agents, triple agents, or simply playing all sides for as long as they could.
At the corporate level, News Corporation was trying to buy a 30 per cent shareholding in DIRECTV that was held by General Motors. NDS provided the smart cards to DIRECTV and card piracy was a factor in the price of those shares. Chenoweth reports evidence that one of NDS's prize hackers had developed a cure-all solution for piracy on their current cards, but NDS did not release that code during the time that News Corporation had an interest in keeping DIRECTV share prices low.
Eventually Canal Plus and the US Echostar system sued NDS for sabotaging the security of their competitor's codes. The claims were for hundreds of millions in lost revenue, let alone any share price implications or criminal liability. News Corporation had 20 lawyers in the California court-room, the plaintiffs had three. Despite compelling evidence, and all indications that the judge was convinced by it, NDS was found guilty of only a minor misdemeanour with a $45 penalty. Even the judge's costs award against NDS was overturned by an appeals court of California's notoriously partisan, elected judiciary. By this time, News Corporation was a significant political asset of the Republican Party.
The Australian Financial Review journalist Neil Chenoweth has been a hound of News Corporation for many years. His investigative work on this story, over more than four years, has accumulated extraordinary detail from across the globe. We get potted biographies and character sketches of most of the key characters. I'm not sure we needed to know the names of the two dogs who sniffed a suspicious package at a critical moment in a Texas parcel depot - but it proves Chenoweth was thorough.
Chenoweth notes the legal hazards of investigating News Corporation, whose normal approach to litigation he describes as ''thermonuclear''. At many points in this story, the threat of massive legal costs seems to have been enough to extinguish open challenges to News Corporation's version of the truth.
This story is full of personal drama, colourful identities, and issues of high principle. Many episodes are presented in a cinematic present tense, but the large caste and complex plot would challenge any screenwriter. Chenoweth concludes with a number of serious questions about accountability of globalised corporations. I wonder who will dare to make the movie.
Richard Thwaites was working on broadcasting policy issues while Australia's pay television system was being introduced.
A Murdoch page-turner
HELEN CROMPTON, The West Australian January 1, 2013, 2:35 pm
A Murdoch page-turner
In the blurb about this book it says this is the story Rupert Murdoch does not want you to read. In its almost 400 pages you can fully appreciate why. If you took a tenth of the shenanigans in this book it would make a fabulous Hollywood movie. The whole account has enough drama to fuel an entire blockbuster franchise.
Neil Chenoweth is one of Australia's leading investigative business writers. He won the Gold Walkley media award in 2004 for helping to uncover the money trail in the case of the Offset Alpine Printing fire payout.
He won another Walkley for his book, Packer's Lunch, in 2006 and in 2008 made it a professional hat-trick for his reports on the Opes Prime scandal.
Murdoch's Pirates is an almost unbelievable and meticulously detailed account of how one of the world's biggest media groups created its own security force and what happened when an arm of that force went rogue. This is the definitive story about hacking, about the top hackers, how they differ, how they do what they do and what motivates them and how corporations either employ or attempt to thwart the brightest and the best of these technical geniuses - or pirates, depending on their chosen career path.
Chenoweth is a humorous bloke. It makes the unbelievable hysterical. Of a certain officer of the French law, Gilles Kaehlin, Chenoweth writes: "Kaehlin . . . by 1994 had been exiled to the Caribbean to run the police post at the airport and the little fishing port of Saint Martin . . . In two years he managed to enrage the local civil service, its business leaders, the drug cartels that operated out of the island and the general populace.
"In June 1986 a police operation led by Kaehlin triggered a riot and the enraged crowd proceeded to burn his house down. They threw his car into the harbour and put the police under siege.
"When Paris mounted an emergency repatriation to get Kaehlin off the island, the crowd threw rocks at the plane's windscreen. He was that sort of policeman."
More pertinently, Chenoweth draws a picture of Murdoch's empire and how the News of the World was not the first Murdoch concern to be accused of wrongdoing. A division of News Corp based in Jerusalem (Murdoch apparently has a fascination with things Israeli) employed ex-Scotland Yard operatives and former secret service agents who, all to a man, had controversial CVs.
Halfway through the book, in a chapter titled Denver, Colorado, April 1997, an up-close look at Murdoch manoeuvring is revealed:
"Two media billionaires eyeballing each other - one of the scariest sights in the world. Two crazy visions of the world run headlong into each other, with neither giving a millimetre. Rupert Murdoch had this wild dream of a broadcast empire that would reach around the world from New Zealand and Australia, through Asia, Europe, Latin America and of course, North America, fed from satellites 35,000km above the Earth in geosynchronous orbit. It would be a seamless global platform and NDS would hold it all together, that would secure it, provide the technology base to allow Murdoch to pump all his Fox programming down through his set-top boxes.
"Perhaps only half a dozen people understood just how ambitious Murdoch's plans were. One of them was now sitting opposite him. But he wasn't playing ball."
This refers to Charlie Ergen and the ASkyB merger, in which News Corp and EchoStar each had a 50 per cent share. The plot thickens.
Chenoweth explores why, since March 2002, five of the biggest pay TV companies have filed legal actions claiming a News Corp subsidiary had campaigned to sabotage their products.
Now we focus on that rogue arm of former spies, army intelligence officers, pirates and hackers.
Chenoweth's phone book must be an Aladdin's cave of contacts. To get his information he so ably puts together he has sat down with lawyers, hackers and senior media executives. Deaths, threats, wild stories and wild chases - some of which make headlines, others of which haven't been told until now - pepper the pages of this compelling read about corporate skulduggery and unbound ambition.
Spying on a grand scale - Media
Review by Daniel Herborn - MURDOCH'S PIRATES
Neil Chenoweth - Allen & Unwin, 432pp
When Neil Chenoweth, a journalist for the Australian Financial Review and author of a biography of Rupert Murdoch, stumbled across the details of possible corporate espionage carried out by a little-known organisation called News Datacom (NDS), his first response was one of disbelief.
An Israeli start-up company founded by scientists and cryptographers, NDS had been acquired by News Corporation, its biggest customer, and existed in relative obscurity until a series of billion-dollar lawsuits, with satellite service provider EchoStar suing it for piracy and French pay TV channel Canal Plus taking legal action, which they later abandoned, alleging NDS leaked valuable code on the internet.
To come to terms with why hacking may become a hugely valuable tactic and disruptive force for content providers, it's important to understand that the revenue-raising potential of pay television rests largely on the security of pay walls. If people can easily access the content without paying the subscription fee then the value of the product plummets.
This makes enabling pay-TV smartcards with security measures a hugely lucrative business. But how does a firm producing these cards show the superiority of its cards over others? One way is by demonstrating that competitors' cards can be hacked. If you can hack into your competitors' systems, potentially you can trash the commercial value of their product.
In a series of articles for the AFR, Chenoweth drew on a massive cache of emails to allege NDS hacked its rivals for commercial gain as News Corporation was moving into the Australian pay TV market. Given the sheer commercial scale involved, Chenoweth has called the alleged hacking "arguably the biggest industrial espionage case in history".
Billed as a story "about what happens when an international corporation hires its own spy force", the focus is often narrower than that, with the narrative taking in a wealth of technical detail and the minutiae of the politics and rivalries between hackers, and the hacks and counter-hacks between covert groups.
Chenoweth has secured remarkable levels of access to the hackers, and the overriding impression is of technically gifted savants in way over their heads. Even after the controversies and the mysterious death of talented hacker Boris Floricic, ruled a suicide, they often come across as naive.
Inevitably, though, the key figure in this story is Murdoch, detached as he is from much of the action. Constants in the story are his seemingly inexhaustible reserves of energy and bullishness, his cunning and unexpected capacity for charm. Although a Luddite at heart, he couldn't resist the riches on offer in this high-tech field.
While his motivations for dabbling in data encryption in the first place remain clouded, his end game of accumulating wealth, media influence and power, or some amalgam of all three, is clear.
Murdoch's Pirates is a staggering feat of research, but at times suffers from a lack of accessibility.
It is to be hoped this factual account lays the path for further work that looks beyond the crosses, double crosses, aliases and the farcical confusion to the complex questions of how law enforcement agencies should deal with this new and high-stakes world of corporate spying.