Making multi-screen content secure
Tom Jahr, Conax's EVP of products & partners, explains the security challenges of multi-screen services and the importance of hiding complexity
Show Daily: What security issues does a multi-screen scenario create that aren't a concern for single-screen content?
Jahr: Firstly, new infrastructure is used. Multi-screen services are often delivered to inherently unsecure devices such as PCs, smartphones, tablets and connected TVs while single-screen content typically has been delivered through controlled and more secure devices like STBs and CA modules.
Cloud (internet) based delivery of multi-screen services introduces yet another set of security challenges, such as DoS attacks. And if the operator chooses a media gateway strategy for multi-screen services, the gateway itself then poses new security concerns, such as transcoding and trans-crypting of content.
Account sharing is another concern. As multi-screen services enable consumers to watch services on several screens simultaneously, such accounts can potentially be shared between consumers, and not kept within the same household as intended. Operators can lose significant revenues through this type of piracy.
What solutions or strategies are available to secure multi-screen content, and how can they be implemented?
Operators should choose a security solution that hides the complexity of multi-screen operations, yet at the same time enforces their business models and content protection requirements consistently -- across all devices. The solution should also offer a wide device reach enabling high customer uptake.
Security solutions are designed to protect the revenue models for both content providers and operators. Security vendors like Conax are given the task to implement the security - sometimes in cooperation with device vendors. In addition, when operators are developing their multi-screen strategies, we see them coming to us for advice as we have been building competence and experience on multi-screen solutions for years.
Does multi-screen content security depend solely on the security capabilities of the multi-screen platform itself, or can operators implement standalone security solutions with their existing multi-screen platforms?
Security solutions can be integrated into existing multi-screen platforms, but the integration is quite extensive for complex multi-network and multi-screen solutions. This is one of the reasons why pre-integrated solutions are becoming highly attractive to many operators in all different regions around the globe.
At the same time, multi-screen technologies are becoming more mature, standards are beginning to emerge and fragmentation is reduced. Consequently, integrating different parts of a solution becomes more affordable, thus providing operators with the freedom of choice to cherry-pick solution components. Highly vertically integrated solutions are often proven inflexible and not cost-effective in the long run.
A multi-screen environment is potentially a multi-platform/device environment - to what extent is that a challenge for securing content?
Enforcing a consistent security regime in a highly heterogeneous environment is definitely a challenge. STBs can be designed to reach very high security levels, while unmanaged consumer devices like PCs, smartphones, tablets and connected TVs typically have little security build into the platform. Device security must therefore be implemented solely based on software hardening mechanism like obfuscation and data hiding.
Fortunately, we are seeing industrial initiatives to increase hardware security in consumer devices. This will enable better content security solutions, based on both software and hardware security, which we believe will benefit the industry.
Security is a moving target - how can operators approach content security in a flexible way that allows them to easily adjust to new threats, and how fast can they move to do that?
A security vendor shall handle content security on behalf of the operator. As a global specialist in this area for over a decade, Conax believe that operators are best served by working with an experienced and robust security partner whose focus is to stay ahead of new threats and protect the content value chain.