Advanced Television

Multi–screen security challenge

September 23, 2011

There are tipping points in all things. Not very long ago, it seems to me, technology companies, including CA vendors, were going to their pay-TV operator customers and trying to persuade them that the fantastic new functionality they had invented should be deployed.

The response was often lukewarm; when your current business model produces profits in abundance there’s little motivation to change much – or, in some cases, invest much. Then, all of a sudden, something that seemed like a speck on the horizon turns out to be a giant snowball gathering mass and speed and travelling towards you. Today’s snowball is Over The Top services, and the spectre of what they could do to your economically-squeezed subs base.

Now your customers want all that stuff you’d been talking about and more. And, like any customer, they want it yesterday. Worse, because they believe they have to add value by making ‘Everything Everywhere’ a free, or near free, part of their service, they want it at low cost. But they want it as safe as if the content were still authorised via a smart card on a provider managed Set Top. It is just as well CA vendors enjoy a challenge.

And it is a challenge: securing content via software that has to travel with the content to devices that are not simply ‘unmanaged’ but often contain the processing power and permissions to run all manner of unknown and, potentially, compromising programs. Or injecting security into carriers such as Android Apps, that were designed to be as open and accessible as possible.

Part of the answer is to qualify the ‘Everything’ part of ‘Everything Everywhere’ in terms of value and, therefore, attraction to hackers. But as theatre, packaged and pay-TV windows move ever closer together, and powerful OTT players threaten to enter the major sports rights market, soon even top price content will need to travel – and take its security with it.



Categories: Blogs, CA/DRM, Nick Snow, Piracy