New white paper addresses complex issues of protecting online content

Farncombe, a media technology services company, has published a white paper designed to help the TV industry understand and address the complexities involved in securing content in the new multiscreen OTT environment using Digital Rights Management (DRM) and conditional access (CA) solutions.

Commissioned by Irdeto, a specialist in copy protection for pay television, the new white paper focuses on the recent shift in the TV market toward the adoption of DRM-based content protection solutions and assesses the main drivers for this change, taking an in-depth look at the business and technology implications for operators seeking to adopt a DRM approach.

The paper highlights the differences between content protection solutions using DRM or conditional access in terms of the way in which they are sold, the bundling of associated services and their use of mandated hardware-based proprietary scrambling algorithms.

The paper also argues that the standard DRM business model leaves responsibility for implementation and maintenance of security in the hands of the operator or OEM, leaving a gap in the market for security solution providers to fill — but only when that gap is properly identified and understood.

“The reality is that the new types of devices consumers want to use for viewing TV, such as tablets and smartphones, use DRM technologies to secure content because they are not built for the traditional broadcast environment,” said Andrew Glasspool, managing partner at Farncombe.

"Knowing whether it is necessary to invest in robust DRM and player implementations and how these might be delivered and maintained is presenting a challenge to the industry and an opportunity for providers of a new range of security services. This new white paper provides a high-level guide to some of the complex security issues involved, and how they can be pragmatically addressed.”

In today’s TV-everywhere landscape, the complexity of content distribution is increasing exponentially, and piracy is evolving at an even faster rate, said Andrew Wajs, chief technology officer at Irdeto. 

“It is more critical and difficult than ever for pay media companies and content owners to protect their valuable assets and investments against emerging threats, as the impact on their business is often global and immediate,” he said. “The key to effective media security lies in staying ahead of the ever-changing piracy threats through a holistic protection strategy involving innovative, end-to-end technologies with trusted partners.”

Topics covered by the white paper include an analysis of the market, the main differences between CA and DRM, the changing nature of content piracy, cost implications, different ways of implementing DRM, and recommendations for DRM adopters.

However, regardless of cost — which is difficult to measure — the report said, neither DRM or CA is adequate alone in securing online content.

“New forms of attack require that operators be empowered to detect how their content is being pirated and to disrupt the piracy as much as possible — either by identifying the source of leakage using session-based watermarking (thereby disrupting the pirates’ access to the content) or through issuing takedown notices (so that consumers have greater difficulty locating the pirated content),” the report said.

“This in turn requires a robust and tamper-proof device identity supported by the content security system. This underlines the conclusion that for the operator, piracy management is no longer simply about the purchase of a DRM or CA system, but involves the overall management of the end-to-end security operation. This in turn implies that understanding the full cost of security ownership and operation is essential to the long-term viability of any paid-for service.”

The new white paper can be downloaded here after following a registration process.