Largest ever regional investigation leads to arrests and shut down of a major smartcard sharing piracy network

AMSTERDAM – 27 August 2014 – As a part of a collaborative investigation to stop the illegal distribution of satellite channels across the African continent, it was revealed today that Irdeto, in conjunction with African pay TV operators, the Egyptian Cybercrime Unit and Egyptian Ministry of Interior, have made significant progress with the arrest of two Egyptian suspects on August 11. These arrests mark the culmination of one of the largest investigations into a large-scale smartcard sharing piracy network.

Members of the Egyptian Cybercrimes Unit and several other enforcement agencies raided the Cairo premises of a pirate operation suspected of controlling and managing a major smartcard sharing network, operating throughout Africa. The raid uncovered several electronic components, a server, 40 smartcards, several pirate decoders, smartcard readers and other related equipment typically used within a pirate smartcard sharing operation. Cash of over $230,000 USD was also seized during the raid. All equipment confiscated during the raids will be analyzed by the Egyptian Cybercrimes Unit and more arrests are forthcoming. The two suspects that were arrested have been detained in custody, pending a court appearance.

Smartcard sharing piracy poses a major threat to pay TV operators and broadcasters and occurs when a pirate steals and retransmits a regularly changing control word that is passed between a smartcard and a set-top-box (STB), allowing viewers to watch pay TV content they have not legitimately paid for.

Rory O’Connor, VP of Services at Irdeto, said, “As long as there are consumers who are prepared to pay for illegal content, pirates will continue to try to hack encryption systems and turn a profit. Irdeto remains dedicated to identifying and countering organized criminal enterprises who wish to circumvent our customers’ security measures and financially profit from pirated content. Together with the pay TV operators and local authorities, we will relentlessly fight these illegal operations on the African continent, using technology and the law to its fullest extent.”

O’Connor added: “Piracy has negative economic consequences for all involved. Pay TV operators commit valuable resources to provide compelling content using the revenue generated through subscriptions. When people pirate content, less revenue is generated, and that results in lower quality programs – and in some cases even the withdrawal of content or higher subscription costs for legitimate subscribers. The Egyptian government has taken the right proactive steps to mitigate this and protect operators.”

The Irdeto Anti-Piracy and Forensics (APF) Unit exists to identify and counter individuals and enterprises who wish to circumvent an operator’s security measures and financially profit from pirated content. Understanding where piracy is occurring – and actively taking measures to stop it – is pivotal to successfully growing revenues and protecting the pay TV business model.

Pictured above, the raid of the Cairo premise on August 11 uncovered various equipment typically used within a pirate
smartcard sharing operation and cash of over $230,000 USD.

About Irdeto

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Irdeto is the world leader in digital platform security, protecting platforms and applications for media & entertainment, gaming, connected transport and IoT connected industries. Our solutions and services enable customers to protect their revenue, create new offerings and fight cybercrime. With nearly 50 years of expertise in security, Irdeto’s software security technology and cyber services protect over 5 billion devices and applications for some of the world’s best-known brands. Our unique heritage as a subsidiary of multinational media group Naspers (JSE: NPN) means that we are a well-established and reliable partner to help build a more secure future. Please visit Irdeto at

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