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Sirius satellite radio squashes 6-year-old bug

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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 subscribers to gain free access, according to TippingPoint Technologies, whose Zero Day Initiative pays hackers for technical details on security vulnerabilities.

It isn't clear how widely exploited the bug was, but the person who reported it to TippingPoint said "multiple people were doing this." Sirius recently plugged the hole, although it's not clear exactly when.

Exploitation of the flaw could underscore the growing risk of satellite radio piracy now that Sirius has merged with XM Satellite Radio. Piracy already costs satellite television providers hundreds of millions of dollars per year. With only one satellite radio provider, there's considerably more content to pirate than there was before, providing more of an incentive to hackers to find weaknesses.

The flaw involved the deactivation process used when listeners canceled their service. A TippingPoint manager of security response described it as "an oversight on Sirius's side" and "just kind of sloppy."

Sirius said it didn't comment on security issues."

The IDG report is here. ®

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