Hacker on News Corp. Payroll for 10 Years

murdoch_wideweb__470x336,0.jpgRupert Murdoch, apparently not content to destroy The Wall Street Journal and Newsday (and, in the process, The New York Times) has resorted to hiring hackers. From our friends at Reuters (via Mashable):

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 plaintiffs claim Tarnovsky, one of the “two best hackers in the world,” was tasked with hacking into DISH’s satellite network and stealing code which would then allow the NDS Group to flood the market with knock-off smart cards. Had he succeeded, the estimated cost to DISH would have been $900 million.

Tarnovsky says he’s been on the Harper Collins payroll for the past 10 years.

UPDATE: We called Erin Crum, director of corporate communications at Harper Collins, for comment. She was unaware of the story and said she call us back. After waiting 30 minutes, we called her back and she said she had no comment, citing the fact that “it’s a News Corp. lawsuit.” Calls to News Corp.’s PR have yet to be returned.

UPDATE: Teri Everett, senior vice president corporate affairs & communications, emails us the following statement:

Statement from NDS on Echostar Litigation

The Echostar litigation dates back to 2002 and involves allegations which NDS has vigorously denied. Our position remains the same. There is no validity to these allegations. A significant proportion of the claims have already been dismissed over the years.

The litigation process and associated discovery have only strengthened NDS’ position that we had nothing to do with the Echostar piracy. The hacking of Echostar was the result of inferior technology arising from inadequate investment in research and development by Kudelski. NDS, on the other hand, invests heavily in research and development — at that time we reinvested over 30 percent of our revenues into R&D — and the result is that we have zero piracy and the platforms of our customers are completely secure.

We are confident our position will be upheld at trial.