A computer hacker testified on Wednesday that a News
Corp unit hired him to develop pirating software, but
denied using it to penetrate the security system of a
rival satellite television service.
Christopher Tarnovsky -- who said his first payment
was $20,000 in cash hidden in electronic devices
mailed from Canada -- testified in a corporate-spying
lawsuit brought against News Corp's NDS Group by DISH
Network Corp .
The trial could result in hundreds of millions of
dollars in damage awards.
NDS, which provides security technology to a global
satellite network that includes satellite TV service
DirecTV, denies the claims, saying it was only
engaged in reverse engineering -- looking at a
technology product to determine how it works, a
standard in the electronics industry.
Tarnovsky told the court that he was paid on a
regular basis by a publishing arm of News Corp, for
10 years. He added that one of his first projects was
to develop a pirating program to make DirectTV more
But lawyers for DISH Network claim Tarnovsky's
mission was to hack into DISH's satellite network,
steal the security code, then flood the market with
pirated smart cards costing DISH $900 million in lost
revenue and system-repair costs.
Smart cards enable satellite TV converter boxes to
bring in premium channels.
Tarnovsky said that he had never got
money for reprogramming Echostar cards. What he did
was the development of a device called "the stinger"
that could communicate with any smart card in the
The trial is expected to last another two to three