Securing Streams: What Are We Trying to Protect?

Few streaming stakeholders, from entertainment to enterprise, would deny that stream security and anti-piracy matter, but what are we really protecting when we apply DRM or other methods to curb the inappropriate appropriations of streaming content? Are we protecting user experiences? Profitability? Proprietary content? An international panel of industry experts from Synamedia, EZDRM, Vindral, United Cloud, and Help Me Stream weigh in on this critical question in this clip from Streaming Media NYC 2024.

Protecting Streaming Experiences

"Securing streams is something that, from the outset of streaming has been wildly debated is, should we add security to it," says Tim Siglin, Founder, Help Me Stream Research Foundation. "Then it became, what are the legal requirements for keeping the content secure?" And particularly when it comes to live content, he says, "the question becomes, 'How do we protect the stream long enough so the content owner gets the benefit of [delivering it] live,' forcing everyone to their platform" rather losing them to "professional pirates."

But a more fundamental question, Siglin says, cutting across a vast array of streaming scenarios, is,"What exactly is it that we're trying to protect?"

"There are different levels of content protection," says Vindral | RealSprint CEO Daniel Alinder. "Of course, you want to make sure that as far as possible, it is very hard to obtain the content and to make it available to people that shouldn't have access to it. But for an increasing number of clients that are reaching out to us to, it's not about protecting the content, it's about protecting the experience," he explains. "A central part of the experience of what you're streaming is how the content is received."

As an example, Alinder says, imagine "you have a racing client and people are watching the races through an app or through a web browser, and one of the core ideas is this is going to be low latency--everybody sees the same thing at the same time. Of course, you don't want [unintended] people getting access to it, but it's a lot less of a problem because if somebody restreams that and people are experiencing 20 to 40 seconds of latency when they're watching the restream, that's a way worse experience. There's a reason to actually watch the stream where it's supposed to be watched and pay for the stream. So I'd say, are you protecting the content or you protecting the experience?"

"For a lot of people, it's intrinsically linked," comments Robin Oakley, Senior Director, Edge CDN Solutions at Synamedia. "For a lot of brands, it relies on the content itself--high-value, high-brand-awareness content like the EPL or the NFL that have had a lot of mentions of the show and the experience around it, because they're giving it to platforms they trust with it. They're giving it to platforms that can enrich it with other experiences, which might be a reason to go to that platform and go that experience, and piracy just erodes all that. It doesn't quite have the same functionality. It may not have the same quality. But ultimately, on the highest level, what we're trying to actually protect is the money, the revenue from this, whether it's your subscriber revenue, or the advertising revenue that comes hand in hand with high-value content. And the brand itself, because that's what it's about. So if you're protecting that, you're all in the business of succeeding, I think."

Protecting Corporate and Personal IP

But it's not always about protecting privately owned public-facing streams. Behind the firewall in enterprise streaming operations focused on internal communications, there are other brand protection concerns to consider. 

"We're talking about streams, which is a very broad concept," says EZDRM COO & Co-Founder Olga Kornienko. "It could be the latest show, the latest sports, or corporate internal streaming. It could be the latest town hall, the latest earnings call, or anything else. That is super-proprietary information and getting that leaked or faked in some way that could kill major companies. So we're also protecting reputation image, just like Robin said, branding, and everything else."

Siglin also cites generative AI voice cloning as a particularly pernicious source of IP theft that can be deployed in streaming, "where you can take someone's voice and make them say something. So then it's the question of not just protecting the stream itself as it happens, but ultimately making sure that portions of that stream aren't repackaged together to actually make someone say something that they had not intended to or had not actually said."

"Maybe I can add two more components," says United Cloud Product Manager Boban Kasalovic. "Content protection is obviously the most important thing, but we should speak a little bit about a network protection or infrastructure protection because it's really critical. And also application or player protection with some kind of obfuscation, et cetera. All those components are very important. If we want to keep the content safe, it's not just encryption the content. We need to have protect those three things."

See more highlights and interviews from SMNYC.

Watch full sessions from SMNYC on-demand.

Join us in August 2024 for more thought leadership, actionable insights, and lively debate at Streaming Media Connect.

Streaming Covers
for qualified subscribers
Subscribe Now Current Issue Past Issues
Related Articles

SMNYC 2024: United Cloud's Boban Kasalovic Talks End-to-End Streaming and Content Security

Streaming Media's Tim Siglin interviews United Cloud's Boban Kasalovic at Streaming Media NYC. Kasalovic discusses United Cloud's development of an end-to-end streaming solution and an anti-piracy platform called Gladiator. The platform uses machine learning and AI to analyze data and identify critical behavior that could lead to piracy. The company has also implemented Widevine CAS for its hybrid solution.

SMNYC 2024: Synamedia's Robin Oakley Talks Stream Security and the Consumer Experience

Streaming Media's Tim Siglin interviews Synamedia's Robin Oakley at Streaming Media NYC 2024. He emphasises the importance of a proactive approach to security and highlights the company's work with the common access token format, a CTA Wave initiative that aims to create a common CDN token syntax that can be used across multiple CDNs. He also touches on the challenges of protecting content while maintaining a quality experience for the consumer and the increasing sophistication of piracy.

How to Secure Cloud Streaming Infrastructure

Securing cloud-based streams is a critical issue, largely different from securing on-prem streaming architecture. Fortinet's John Jacobs discusses the critical challenges and explains how it's done in this clip from Streaming Media Connect 2023.