Christopher Tarnovsky

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Christopher Tarnovsky (born 20 April 1971, Nyack, New York) is an integrated circuit reverse engineering specialist or hacker who has come to public attention.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Tarnovsky has a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.[2] In the 1990s, Tarnovsky was a soldier in the United States army in the field of intelligence, security and cryptography.[2] In 2013, Tarnovsky was vice president of semiconductor services at IOActive, a security company in Seattle.[3]

Legal action[edit]

In 2001, DirecTV, a client of NDS, a company majority owned by Rupert Murdoch's Newscorp, demanded Tarnovsky be kept away from their systems. Plaintiffs DirecTV, Dish Network and Nagrastar alleged Tarnovsky was hacking the protections they placed on their set-top box smart cards which were used to lock transmission from customers who defaulted.[2][4][5]

From 1997 to 2007, Tarnovsky worked for NDS developing copy protection technology.[2][6]

In 2002, Canal Plus, a French premium cable television commenced a civil action against NDS and Tarnovsky. Tarnovsky was alleged to have extracted the source code of a SECA card and then on 26 March 1999 uploaded it to a file sharing website.[7] A jury later largely cleared NDS and Tarnovsky.[2][8]

In 2008, Tarnovsky was dismissed from NDS for copyright infringement while in their employ. Tarnovsky denies this accusation.[2]

Acts of hacking[edit]

In 2008, Tarnovsky broke into a Trusted Platform Module, a type of chip used in the Xbox 360 for example.[6] Tarnovsky required nine months of study to discover the main contents of the module.[9]

In 2010, at a Black Hat Washington DC conference, Tarnovsky described how he had used acid, an electron microscope and small conductive needles to hack the Infineon SLE66 CL PE chip.[10]


  1. ^ Chenoweth N. Rupert Murdoch: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Media Wizard. Crown Business 12 November 2002. p. 353. ISBN 978-0609610381.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Zetter K. From the Eye of a Legal Storm, Murdoch's Satellite-TV Hacker Tells All. San Diego. 30 May 2008. Accessed 30 September 2015.
  3. ^ Talbot D. “Tamper-Proof” Chips, with Some Work, Might Give Up Their Secrets. MIT Technology Review 11 September 2013. Accessed 30 September 2015.
  4. ^ Chenoweth N. Cash in News budget for police informants. The Australian Financial Review. 4 April 2012. Accessed 26 April 2012.
  5. ^ Gardner E. Rupert Murdoch's $1 Billion Hacking Scandal You Haven't Heard About. Hollywood Reporter. 18 July 2011. Accessed 29 September 2015.
  6. ^ a b Everett D. What the silicon manufacturer has put together let no man put asunder. March 2010. Accessed 29 September 2015.
  7. ^ Chenoweth N. Murdoch's inside job. The Australian Financial Review. 31 March 2012. Accessed 26 April 2012.
  8. ^ Vivendi settles row with NDS. The Guardian 2 May 2003. Accessed 26 April 2012.
  9. ^ Van Tilborg H. (ed.) Christopher Tarnovsky. Encyclopedia of Cryptography and Security, Springer, 10 August 2005. ISBN 978-0387234731 Accessed 26 April 2012.
  10. ^ Stevens T. Christopher Tarnovsky hacks Infineon's 'unhackable' chip, we prepare for false-advertising litigation. 12 February 2010.

External links[edit]