Hacking the Cable Modem

Hacking the Cable Modem
What Cable Companies Don't Want You to Know
September 2006, 320 pp.

In the beginning there was dial-up, and it was slow; then came broadband in the form of cable, which redefined how we access the internet, share information, and communicate with each other online. Hacking the Cable Modem goes inside the device that makes Internet via cable possible and, along the way, reveals secrets of many popular cable modems, including products from Motorola, RCA, WebSTAR, D-Link and more.

Inside Hacking The Cable Modem, you’ll learn:

  • the history of cable modem hacking
  • how a cable modem works
  • the importance of firmware (including multiple ways to install new firmware)
  • how to unblock network ports and unlock hidden features
  • how to hack and modify your cable modem
  • what uncapping is and how it makes cable modems upload and download faster

Written for people at all skill levels, the book features step-by-step tutorials with easy to follow diagrams, source code examples, hardware schematics, links to software (exclusive to this book!), and previously unreleased cable modem hacks.

WARNING: The practice of modifying a cable modem violates service agreements, and hackers risk being banned by service providers for life. This book is not intended to be used for stealing Internet service or any other illegal activity.

Author Bio 

Profiled by Security Focus, TechTV, and the Register, DerEngel has been hailed as "the underground Prometheus of super-broadband." He has written several programs to simplify and streamline the uncapping process since he started hacking cable modems more than five years ago. He currently heads TCNISO INC., a group of hackers who have revolutionized reverse engineering techniques and produce leading-edge firmware modifications.

Table of contents 

Chapter 1: A History of Cable Modem Hacking
Chapter 2: The Cable Modem Showcase
Chapter 3: A Faster Internet
Chapter 4: The DOCSIS Standard
Chapter 5: What's Inside?
Chapter 6: Firmware
Chapter 7: Our Limitations
Chapter 8: Reverse Engineering
Chapter 9: Cable Modem Security
Chapter 10: Buffer Overflows
Chapter 11: SIGMA Firmware
Chapter 12: Hacking Frequencies
Chapter 13: Useful Software
Chapter 14: Gathering Information
Chapter 15: The Blackcat Programmer
Chapter 16: Traditional Uncapping
Chapter 17: Building a Console Cable
Chapter 18: Changing Firmware
Chapter 19: Hacking the RCA
Chapter 20: Hacking the WebSTAR
Chapter 21: The SURFboard Factory Mode
Chapter 22: Hacking the D-Link Modem
Chapter 23: Securing the Future
Appendix A: Frequently Asked Questions
Appendix B: Disassembling
Appendix C: Cross-Compiling
Appendix D: Acronyms


"No Starch Press is a publisher with a penchant for finding geeky niches that other publishers won't touch, and DerEngel's Hacking the Cable Modem is a fine case in point."
Linux Journal (Read more)

"Just when I thought the old style tradition of hacking was lost forever, I was thrilled to discover Hacking the Cable Modem . . . it is refreshing to see a book written by a next generation hacker who works in the old tradition. It is also satisfying to see the thoroughness of his work."
IEEE Cipher (Read more)

"I am thoroughly impressed with both the author and the information content. . . Part textbook, part documentary."
GeeksInside (Read More)

"This book can prepare you for what you'll find under the hood of the modern cable modem. . . You don't have to be a geek to follow along."
Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Wash.) (Read More)

"Secrets of many popular cable modem products include step-by-step tutorials with source code examples, diagrams, and even schematics – something usually absent from hacker's guide."
The Bookwatch, December 2006 (Read more)

"DerEngel's excellent descriptions of firmware and buffer overflows provide many insights into the art of reverse engineering."
Book News (Read more)

"Latest Additions to Our Bookshelf"
(IN)Secure Magazine (Read more)

"The author is a certified geek (a good thing), and he makes accessible some of the industry's dirty secrets."
New Media Musings (Read more)

Podcast with DerEngel and blog entry about the book: "DerEngel expresses doubt that cable modem manufacturers will even read his book, but I beg to differ!"
ZDNet Threat Chaos blog (Listen and read)

"This is a 'how' as well as a 'how to' book. It examines the technology employed by the cable industry as well as details for specific products . . . The book is also useful as a practical example of reverse engineering. Few books attempt to do this."
Electronic Design (Read more)

"If you're fascinated by the technology behind cable modems, you will find this book authored by hackers surprisingly well written, informative and interesting, with no information held back."
SpeedGuide.net (Read more)

"Just like many an engineer, [DerEngel] got on to something, and he won't let go until he thoroughly understands it. And because the industry keeps improving cable modems, there's more for him to keep trying to understand. And because he's an engineer, he wants to share what he knows, hence the book."
CED Magazine (Read more)

Author DerEngel on live radio show aired on WBAI-FM in NYC; interview starts about 10 minutes in.
"Off The Hook" (Download and listen)

"We're not about to follow his lead, but heck, you don't have to kill anyone to enjoy reading a good murder mystery. There's an unmistakable appeal here to the inner geek in many of us; that said, it's a quality that's also a prerequisite for enjoying this book. We liked it, but we're quirky that way."
Newstips Bulletin (Only available to media)

"Interesting to understand what goes on between the cable company and your PC . . . This is one of those books that consolidates a lot of information into one place, and will save you an immense amount of time. It's definitely covering a subject and niche that hasn't gotten much (if any) coverage before."
Duffbert's Random Musings (Read more)

"A good introduction to the inner workings of these blinky boxes, and the techniques currently in use by the hacking community to defeat security measures."
Broadband Reports (Read more)