back to article Sirius satellite radio squashes 6-year-old bug

It may have taken six years, but a bug that allowed people to get satellite radio broadcasts for free has finally been squashed by Sirius XM Radio. According to a report published by IDG News, the flaw has apparently been present in the satellite radio system since 2002, when Sirius first rolled it out. It allowed former …


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  1. Chris Boyle

    "Piracy already costs satellite television providers hundreds of millions of dollars per year"

    I don't see what attacking ships on the high seas has to do with all this, nor do I agree with the assumption that copyright infringers would otherwise purchase content legitimately, and that you can therefore call it a "cost". Please stop propagating these two most egregious examples of industry propaganda.

  2. Andy Barber

    Designed Obsolesence...

    ...or what?

    "TippingPoint manager of security response described it as "an oversight on Sirius's side" and "just kind of sloppy.""

  3. Joe

    Sky used to have a similar flaw

    Back in the analogue days, we cancelled our subscription, and they told you what day it was due to go off. As long as you had the receiver turned off on that day, it wouldn't receive the signal to cancel the card and hey presto, free Sky! It worked for about six months before finally blocking us out.

    The whole system relied on people turning on their receiver to see if they'd been cut off!

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Real Cost of Piracy?

    "Piracy already costs satellite television providers hundreds of millions of dollars per year."

    That would be, no doubt, from all those satellite pirates swooping in and stealing expensive satellites. I'm sure that figure isn't counting every unpaid signal as a lost sale... right?

  5. Anonymous Coward


    "Piracy already costs satellite television providers hundreds of millions of dollars per year."

    Who still believes this? People who steal usually do not have any money unless they manage to sell the loot. To fight piracy effectively you need to be honest yourself. So how is this any news?

  6. Ian
    Thumb Down

    Beaten to it...

    "...costs satellite television providers hundreds of millions of dollars per year", and that's just the people who are watching without paying. The really devious bastards are the who don't pay or watch!. They cost these providers hundreds of billions of real dollars each year, and due to an unfortunately loop-hole in the law can't even be prosecuted!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Yeah I enjoyed that trick as well. The beauty was that Sky usually offered you a free month's subscription on trial to tempt you back, roughly every 6 months :-) Oh how I was sad on the day that merry-go-round stopped :-( I believe they eventually turned it on its head by giving the cards a time limited licence (month or two I think), rebroadcasting it to reenable it before it expired. Caused a headache in the call centres as legitimate users got cut off...

    Having said all that, I would hardly call it a 'cost' to Sky or any other satellite provider. The only way it's a cost ("loss of potential revenue" technically) is if people realise this flaw and cancel to take advantage of it. Most folks enjoying this 'benefit' were likely cancel-ees anyway.

  8. Chris C


    Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the satellite radio company broadcast everything simultaneously (like analogue radio)? They send out the signal, and the subscriber's receiver picks it up and pulls the selected channel from that signal, right? If so, then they could have 57 trillion people receiving the signal without paying for it, and it still wouldn't cost them a single penny extra. They have to broadcast the data whether there's one subscriber or one billion. Any signal you can receive over the air (without you requesting the data) does not cost the company anything extra. Now, if you'd like to use alternate marketing speech such as "unrealized sales" or some such nonsense, then we can talk. But no, it doesn't *COST* them anything.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    Asteroids to port bow! Avast, sunspots!

    Thar's the comsat! Haul 'er in, boys!

  10. Graham Lockley


    >Exploitation of the flaw could underscore the growing risk of satellite radio piracy

    Damn, does this mean I wont be able to record satellite radio in all its lo-def glory and complete with ads anymore ?

    Shame, guess I will have to download some drm and ad free music instead. Or just tune in to yet another streaming radio station..

    Or maybe the risk of satellite radio piracy is greater than the actual occurence/desirability ?

    Seems they have fixed a flaw that nobody was interested in exploiting.

  11. yeah, right.

    Piracy costs?

    "costs millions of dollars per year"?? Oh really? By whose counting? The same people who claim that piracy costs Microsoft billions, because any computer without windows on it is counted as a pirated version? Or the same people count the losses to the studios for pirated videos, using current retail prices as if everyone who had copied (some of them - gasp - legally!) a DVD or movie would have paid for a full version instead of the copy?

    I call bullshit.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Free radio? Did I miss something here, I turn my radio on and out blasts Radio 4 for "free" every time. You'll be telling me next that folk are willing to pay separately for TV too!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Saying it costs us £x

    is still alot smaller lie that "Im not doing anything wrong whan I do this"...

    Theft it may not be, but it is still wrong. Why can you not see this?

  14. Richard
    Thumb Down


    Unless you live in the UK and don't have a TV - they still hound you for the license fee.

  15. Nano nano



    "In the UK" - that'd be the licence fee ...

  16. OffBeatMammal

    why would I waste storage space

    I got Sirius "free" with my car. Frankly I prefer the sound of the engine to the mindless pap they churn out here. Imagine the worst local radio DJ from the UK, throw in a payola inspired playlist of about a dozen tracks per genre station and they think it's compelling content. And then there's the talk shows. OMG I miss the halcyon days of the Kenny Everett Radio Show. Even the Archers is more interesting that Howard Stern and the other gibbering buffoons.

    The highlight of listening to it was the frequent drop-outs (especially in "urban canyons").

    When my subscription lapsed I wasn't tempted by the cut price offers to renew - HD Radio (though ad supported) has better quality but frankly I've found the best answer was to wire in my Zune (yes, I have the Microsoft Music Machine and I like it) into the head unit and I get to choose my own programming. If only I could work out a reliable way to stream Pandora or Last.FM I'd be really happy ;)

    Aliens because... like the wonderful music of Sirius and XM they beam down from the stars as well :)

  17. Tony

    Piracy my shiny metal ass

    Receiving radio waves is not piracy. What is stolen? Are the otherwise unused radio waves somehow magically recycled or returned in some form to the broadcaster?

    If something is broadcast through the air I'm breathing I'll damn sure receive it if I want to.

  18. Ian
    Thumb Up


    I do indeed live in the UK, I I don't have a TV. I rather enjoy the threatening letters, but for all their bluster they still haven't actually turned up yet. I think /all/ licensing bodies should take a similar line. There are thousands of things that require licenses that I don't possess. If they all wrote to me often enough I could probably sell the letters for bulk recycling each month and retire on the proceeds.

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