Protecting the entire consumption path is key.

With the television industry in a transition to live production over IP, the benefits of such a change are clear. Most notably, IP production can offer a more dynamic, agile and, in some cases, cost-efficient content creation process compared to its more rigid predecessor, SDI.

However, amid this transition, the industry is also beginning to better understand some of the potential drawbacks of IP production and what obstacles stand in the way. For example, as the consumption path has widened and become more complex, so has the surface for security attacks and threats. Spanning service disruption, loss of data and even loss of content through piracy or unauthorized viewership, security risks are among the biggest hurdles to overcome during this transition to IP.

So how can the industry not only mitigate these emerging risks but also stay ahead of the curve to take full advantage of IP live production? Content distributors will be best suited for what lies ahead by focusing on infrastructure security, protecting viewer data and securing the content itself.

BOLSTERING INFRASTRUCTURE SECURITY

It’s important to remember that with such a broad attack surface inherent to IP delivery, securing the entire consumption path is key. Attacks can originate at multiple touchpoints, from content acquisition to the customer experience itself.

Preventing service outages or disruptions along this path is often the main goal. For example, quality of service can be jeopardized by distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, which is a type of cyberattack that attempts to make a service unavailable. Malware, which is designed to maliciously disrupt the normal operation of a service, and ransomware attacks, which force victims to pay a ransom to cybercriminals to regain access to content, are other examples of common cyberattacks that can disrupt content delivery.

Regardless of the type of attack, media organizations should consider security protocols that have massive scale and multiple layers of protection given these complexities. For example, for companies with cloud-based workflows, storage and other assets, the ability to stop attacks in the cloud is key. By doing so, threats can be mitigated before they reach an organization's critical applications or data centers, a point where significant disruptions can occur.

With bots playing a growing role in cyberattacks, a thorough bot management program is important to consider. However, because not all bots are created equal, flexible management strategies for the different types of bots that an organization could come across can be important for overall success when it comes to mitigating bot-based threats.

Regardless of the specific solution, it’s important to remember the complexity of these security risks and the need to focus on each stage of the content delivery process, including the acquisition, production and distribution stages.

PROTECTING TROVES OF VIEWER DATA

Today’s consumers expect a flawless viewing experience. But with data breaches becoming far too common and personal data often exposed as a result—not to mention an increased focus on data privacy—ensuring that such information is protected is now a crucial part of this overall experience.

In the age of social media, users are not shy about expressing their dissatisfaction with a service or product, meaning a single instance of compromised user information can permanently tarnish a brand’s reputation. In a world with so many content distributors and services to choose from, it doesn’t take much to lose a viewer or subscriber.

One growing trend is the credential stuffing attack, in which hackers use bots to access stolen login information to access user accounts. The scope of these attacks is massive—Akamai reported 55 billion credential stuffing attacks between November 2017 to March 31, 2019. Investing in modern bot detection and blocking solutions that leverage AI and machine learning can greatly reduce these threats.

KEEPING CONTENT SECURE

The value of content is skyrocketing in today’s competitive industry. Just look at Amazon, which is paying $130 million for two years of rights to stream the NFL on Thursday nights, separate from the rights other broadcasters are paying to air games over traditional network and pay television. It’s evident that content is becoming more valuable than ever, but with this trend comes growing security risks.

In fact, the content itself is only becoming a bigger target for cybercriminals—from hackers to content pirates—who see dollar signs in exploiting such a growing market. With IP delivery, the attack surface for tapping into this content is much wider and thus content distributors should consider strong safeguards to secure their most valuable asset.

Recent data suggests that piracy can cost the industry as much as $71 billion annually. And while the industry recognizes the problem, an Akamai survey of media technology influencers and decision-makers found that only 1% are “very confident” in their current security measures to address the issue.

Media encryption can be a great place to start to address content protection challenges. Investing in this approach ensures a unique encryption key is established for each delivered media segment and can offer message integrity verification data to prevent the theft of content during delivery. Tokenization can also make sure that only viewers that have been properly authenticated can access content, while geo and IP-based blocking can guarantee the same. Additionally, watermarking can be an effective strategy to prevent piracy. By adding unique watermarking to identify the source or recipient of content, each copy can be differentiated from stolen content, allowing organizations to find the true source of the piracy.

SECURING THE INDUSTRY’S FUTURE

By prioritizing investments into infrastructure security, protecting consumers and their data, and ensuring the content itself is secure, the industry will not only allow for a smooth transition to IP live delivery but will also ensure that IP delivery has the right foundation to securely succeed for years to come.

IP live delivery is the future, but only if we safeguard it.

Ritika Tandon is solutions engineering manager at Akamai.