November 18, 2010 – Logitech has embraced a level of protection for its new Google TV-optimized Revue set-top that is likely to accelerate offerings of premium content in the over-the-top domain, especially if other device makers follow suit.
The new protection layer, supplied by Irdeto through its Cloakware unit, provides the Revue terminal with security mechanisms which go beyond the conditional access and policy controls embodied in digital rights management (DRM) systems. The details of how those mechanisms minimize vulnerabilities to misuse of content that might otherwise be exposed on the Logitech set-top are closely held, but the choice of Cloakware offers validation to the idea that Irdeto’s software-based protection can be tailored to address higher-level security requirements no matter what the architecture of a given device might be.
“We are working with Irdeto to offer a safe environment for premium content services,” says Ashish Arora, vice president and general manager of Logitech’s digital home group. “We selected Irdeto because the company delivers a very flexible and reliable solution for protecting high-value content over broadband – without compromising user experience.”
The emerging OTT device environment, where the goal is to support access to the TV screen, presents a very different set of protection challenges from the traditional OTT space on the PC, notes Jan Steenkamp, vice president for the Americas at Irdeto. Whereas the standardized environment of the PC has been widely accommodated by suppliers of DRM, each new OTT device for the TV, including connected TVs, has its own architecture that must be accommodated where security is concerned.
“When you bring new set-tops, TVs and other devices to market, they need to be reviewed by premium content suppliers to make sure they adhere to minimum requirements of robustness,” Steenkamp says. “The second aspect is, in the past the PC and other devices were targeted with standard definition content, where the value and risks of loss weren’t so great. Now, with HD, we need much more stringent rules around security.”
The ability to adapt the security solution to a particular device environment to assure content providers that the device is sufficiently protected to merit delivery of high-value HD content for consumption by authorized consumers on TV sets has great appeal to manufacturers whose expertise may not include the ability to create such a security system, Steenkamp says. “In a lot of these devices that are proliferating in the market now, the core skill isn’t in there to make them viable for accessing premium content,” he explains. “You have to build the entire secure environment, which DRM can contribute to with encrypting content, but many of those aspects in the operating environment and in the device need additional cloaking to be brought to a level of robustness that’s required by many providers.”
As previously reported (see November 2008, p. 12 and January 2009, p. 20), Cloakware works in proprietary and standardized protection environments to fill security gaps that inevitably occur at various content transfer points within and among devices. It also provides security for information that’s essential to authentication and other functions which a given content supplier might want to become resident on a device once the owner signs up for the service. And, because the system is software based, it can be adjusted through downloads to meet new requirements that might arise as new content providers are brought into a given device platform’s service realm.
In Logitech’s case the goal is to maximize use of Revue for premium content such as Netflix offers, but each such provider brings to the table a rigorous set of requirements that have to be met before the device is accepted into the provider’s domain. “The Netflix specifications are very rigorous,” says David Vogel, director of strategic accounts at Irdeto. “You can imagine Amazon and others might have similar requirements.
“This plays to Cloakware’s strengths,” Vogel continues, “because we can tune the technology so that it meets those requirements and enables the OEM to sign them up. That applies to boxes that are already deployed in the stores and people’s homes.”
A big concern in the premium domain is the ability to secure information specific to each provider’s authentication and metadata systems. “If Netflix or whoever has assets they need to get on the platform – authorizing you as a subscriber, for example, – you need to secure those assets to make them free from attack,” Vogel says. “Our technology can be used in a DRM framework – we make that more robust – or it can be used completely independent of a DRM system so that, if somebody needs a safe place to store things, we can provide that capability.”
The Logitech strategy offers a hint of what might be in store in the Google TV arena as
ever more premium providers see an opportunity to securely enhance their revenues via OTT delivery. “Logitech Revue with Google TV makes it easy for people to use just one controller to find and enjoy content from a variety of sources – programs from TV providers; the entire Web, including Flash-based games; music, photos and videos from their personal library; and a growing selection of apps,” Arora says. “We not only deliver the Google TV experience for any HDMI-ready TV, but we build on it with exceptional interface devices, control of living room components through Logitech Harmony(r) Link and enhanced experiences such as video calling in the living room.”
Irdeto is talking to participants in Google TV as well as suppliers tied to other platforms and suppliers who may be interested in supporting multiple OTT platforms, Steenkamp says. “At the end of the day the consumer will want to buy a device that can access the most content, and manufacturers who have implemented a dynamic layer of security like Irdeto’s will have devices with the broadest range of premium options,” he says. “We most definitely will be announcing more people doing things with our technology on more platforms.”