Millions of digital cable set-tops that use the “PowerKEY” conditional access (CA) system originally developed by Scientific-Atlanta decades ago could go on the blink in late 2024 due to an internal computing clock issue that will cause the devices to “time out” and become inoperable.

Boiled down, the internal clock of those boxes – based on a so-called “epoch time” that sets the zero point/starting time in certain computing systems – will effectively roll over in November 2024 because of memory limitations in the secure microprocessor that keeps time. That time rollover won’t prevent the underlying PowerKEY security system from operating as designed, but the clock on the box’s secure micro will no longer match up properly and will therefore prevent the set-top from decrypting video.

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