A method and apparatus prevent unauthorized programming viewing via a downloadable cable television converter. A booter checksum is computed from data contained in a downloaded booter image. A valid checksum is extracted from tag data associated with a scrambled program signal transmitted on the cable system. The booter checksum is compared to the extracted valid checksum. If the booter checksum and valid checksums match, a descrambler is enabled to descramble the scrambled program signal. If the checksums do not match, the descrambler is not enabled. In this manner, a pirate is prevented from downloading a false booter image to defeat the integrity of the converter.