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Opinion: Evolving security requirements

Tor Helge Kristiansen, EVP principal architect, Conax, explains how to efficiently manage multi-DRM complexity, Ultra HD content and more

From a consumer’s view, pay-TV has changed more the last few years than the first decade of this century. TV is available on a range of devices, tablets and phones are used as viewing or companion devices, social media is increasingly influencing TV consumption and vast video libraries have become available to the majority of TV viewers – just to mention a few developments.

Increased choice also introduces a more fragmented experience that consumers may find bewildering. Basically, today’s savvy consumers are expecting smooth reach to existing devices with their favourite TV content – regardless of manufacturer and operating systems, creating a security challenge for operators.

New content formats, such as Ultra HD quality content, bring additional consumer demands. As Ultra HD content is of higher value, studios have issued a new, stricter set of security recommendations.

So what next? 

Studies show TV is still the consumer’s first choice, with other devices and OTT content playing a complementary role. How can pay-TV operators embrace an expanded role of capitalising on a brilliant opportunity to expanded offerings, fight off pure OTT competitors and handle the complexity of reaching a wide range of consumer devices to meet consumer expectations?

He now needs to securely support the vast pool of active consumer devices in their market; unmanaged devices, bought and maintained by consumers, resulting in a wide variety of devices and operation system versions.

Ultra HD brings the potential of even higher value content with Hollywood studios issuing a set of security recommendations through MovieLabs, such as use of hardware security mechanisms in the client, in particular Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) and requirements for Hardware Root of Trust (HRoT). In addition, there is a requirement for the ability to add Forensic Watermarking to UHD content. These recommendations represent a significant strengthening of security mechanisms for Ultra HD compared to HD and will make it very complex to support Ultra HD on most open devices.

How can operators respond? 

Until recently, there have been a handful of successful multiscreen deployments and often only the largest players having the resources to play the game. A wide variety of solutions are popping up on the market making it possible for pay-TV operators of all sizes to get their feet wet, plan and deploy OTT services.

Success criteria include planning a flexible, future-ready ecosystem to support and enable these new services, while simultaneously managing security to ensure over-the-top content revenues (all in a content landscape that includes evolving new standards – 4K content, cloud services and more).

Key targets to consider when planning a scalable DRM platform include reaching the broadest range of devices in a cost-effective manner, satisfying all content security requirements from providers and for devices, flexibility to support a wide range of evolving business models, hiding complexity of underlying security and DRM technologies and finally, ensuring readiness to benefit from new technologies, standards and devices (MPEG-DASH, HTML5, new Android versions, etc.)