Phoenix

Introduction

To avoid the need to emulate functions of a viewing card, it would be a convenient shortcut to have the card itself perform all of the necessary functions itself, in hardware, as designed. If its contents could be modified to (re)activate it on command, this would be a useful tool. No additional hardware would be required in order to watch television, simply the official card itself, which would behave precisely as a legitimate card would behave. In the event that there were concerns about the idea of having a suspicious-looking adapter protruding from a living room satellite receiver, such an issue would also be solved by modifying an existing legitimate card.

How It Worked

In the Infinite Lives and KENtucky Fried Chip hacks, legitimate cards were used which had already been activated but were prevented from being deactivated by remote commands from Sky. This enabled the use of previously legitimate cards which required no extra/external hardware, it was a relatively clean approach. If the cards could activated independently of Sky, original cards could be used in a similar way, which was the purpose of Phoenix. Named after the mythical bird which rises from the ashes, a card could similarly be revived after being deactivated using PC software and a smartcard interface (similar to that featured in Ho Lee Fook).

This approach was also used to enable pay-per-view access by embedding card commands in Phoenix tools which could be used to grant free credits to redeem against a PPV event.

Mitigation

Actual solution employed: Countermeasures included “nanocommands”, seemingly harmless data which could render a card permanently unusable. Phoenix was a precursor to Genesis, a hardware implementation of the same concept but with the addition of an external KENtucky Fried Chip style blocker. Both hacks could be rendered useless by the application of nanocommands to a card which had been reactivated, destroying the card to prevent future reuse. This did not prevent the use of Phoenix and Genesis, however it meant that an illegitimately reactivated card, even with a Genesis blocker, was at constant risk of being rendered unusable. This would require the acquisition of a new card, either legitimately or from grey-market card vendors.