How to watch pay TV channels for free - Piracy in digital TV broadcasting

When I left my country few months back, one thing I missed was my favorite native channels (out of many other things). TV service providers here does provide couple of my local channels but I found it is not worth enough to pay for, as many of my favorite channels were missing from the list. When I researched to see if there is any other possibility, it opened a world of digital piracy in front of me! - The Internet Key Sharing or Card sharing (Cardsharing), a challenge for CAS – Conditional Access System.

Please note: this hub is for general awareness and educational purpose only, I am against any such measures and note responsible for any misuse of this blog.

My complete guide on Internet Key Sharing is in progress, which has 'idiots' step-by-step methods to setup a card sharing 'Client'. If you would like to know as soon as it is published and get a copy for you, please email me at: (I respect your privacy)

What is Internet Key Sharing or Cardsharing?

As in name, IKS or Cardsharing is the process of sharing a valid smart card subscription with many satellite receivers to watch pay channels freely or with a very low fee. IKS or Crad sharing method enables to watch scrambled or encrypted pay channels by many viewers (receivers) with the use of only one valid digital smart card. As just 1 valid smart card can be shared among 1000s, the total cost would be shared with in the group, hence every one needs to pay only few bugs! A good idea, isn’t it?
IKS or Internet Key Sharing (Card sharing) itself is not a piracy method, but due to the wonderful idea of sharing a card with many, it is a popular method of pirate decryption of pay channels.

The method

The Card Sharing is achieved by using satellite TV receivers (usually FTA – Free to Air receivers which is loaded with Linux firmware – Example: DreamBox etc.) whose software (firmware) is re-flashed / restored with custom made / third party software to enable key sharing. In this method, one digital satellite receiver, with a valid or legit smart card, servers as a host (server) and
shares the smart card “key” over the internet to decrypt / de-scramble the encrypted channels at client side.

The firmware (software) of the ‘server receiver’ is patched to send the 64 bit decryption key (called “control word”) every few seconds to its clients (the other satellite receivers) connected to the host network through internet. A computer with specific software is used along with the satellite receiver to create a Card Server or Internet Key Sharing server.

At the client side (all other receivers they receive the “control word” or key from server), the firmware of the satellite receiver is restored with custom software (called firmware flashing) to receive the key from the server and decrypt the channels as if they are using a valid pay channel subscription card! This custom firmware has a module (called ‘Emulator’) which controls this ‘key’ sharing.

The client satellite receivers are configured the same way how the normal FTA channel receiving system setup –that is, a Dish antenna, and a satellite receiver which is connected to the antenna. The only difference, apart from the connection to Dish antenna is, the receiver is also connected to an internet router through a LAN cable. It works like:

1. The receiver receives encrypted channel signals from antenna
2. Receiver receives the decryption key from the IKS server (cardsharing server) via the internet router
3. Receiver (custom firmware) decrypts the channel using the key received from the IKS server and plays the channel on TV.

The internet usage would be very minimal as the internet is used just to share the decryption key, sizes under few kilobytes.The internet is not used to send the channel signals or stream the channel content. There are 100s (might be thousands) of forums and websites in the name of “FTA – Free to Air forums”, “Free to Air keys” or “Free to air files” all over the internet who does the same thing – the IKS with a very minimal fee, mostly would be less than $20 for a bunch of 200+ pay channels!! What a deal ah..?

The fire spread of IKS (Internet Key Sharing)

After it is introduced, the IKS or Card Sharing sparked all over by the creation of sharing network group, where in users can share their valid card with the network and in turn receives many other paid channels, shared by others, which is not available with his subscription. The same way many network groups has been created and then connected each other and formed big key sharing
servers. The maintenance cost and profit for such servers is collected from the members/clients of the networks and would be very minimal compared to the actual cost of subscribing all channels currently the client receives.

Other methods

Other methods of receiving or illegally decrypting pay channels are; hacking smart cards (smart card piracy) and programming encryption emulator to a FTA receiver. In smart card hacking, hackers would read the smart card internal encryption details, then tweak or change the card internal details to enable the card to access the paid channels.

There are a number of underground groups who knows what kind of encryption
methods and keys are used by pay channels providers and this information is used to hack the smart card.In the other method – programming encryption emulator on FTA receiver – the firmware or software of FTA receiver is patched or re-installed with customized software which has the module to act as a valid smart card thus providing access to all encrypted channels. Such software is available to download on many online piracy websites.

Both these methods are not very popular or favorite; the process of rewriting smart cards or installing customized software need to be repeated frequently as the digital TV encryption algorithm used to be changed often. This made IKS or Card sharing as one of the favorite method of digital TV piracy.

Legal and Prevention measures

The IKS can be traced through the IP address; hence will provide the details of the user. Case of criminal charges and related measure can be brought against such illegal authorities and users. Each country has their own digital piracy laws and only question here is how effective those to prevent this piracy.

A new scrambling system – CSA3 – has been approved by DVB project on 2007 for providing digital TV content. This would hopefully prevent the IKS or Card sharing. This system includes AES 128 bit decryption comparing to existing DVB-CSA 64 bit decryption and provides double security.

What is DVB – CSA?

DVB or Digital Video Broadcasting uses Common Scrambling Algorithm (CSA) to encrypt or scramble the channels. CSA
algorithm uses 64 bit decryption; hence by using a brute force attack, it can be hacked. Once hacked, the decryption key can be
obtained and then this key can be used to decrypt the channels. This is widely used on smart card hacking or FTA emulator
Satellite TV receivers such as DreamBox, Nfusion, SonicView etc. are widely used for IKS as their firmware can be patched or
re-installed with a custom made firmware.