Client/Server Model Enhances Protection for Premium Video

Jan Steenkamp, VP, Americas, Irdeto

Jan Steenkamp, VP, Americas, Irdeto

March 28, 2011 – Irdeto has augmented its Cloakware technology as a mechanism for dynamically sustaining protection of high-value entertainment content regardless of changes in device formats, DRM modes, security conditions or other factors that might otherwise hamper the growth of converged services.

The new ActiveCloak for Media platform leverages the core technical capabilities that have led to deployment of Cloakware on over a billion devices worldwide, says Jan Steenkamp, Irdeto’s vice president for the Americas. “Now, using the client/server model for addressing the needs of content providers and distributors, we’re providing them assurance that high-value content can be delivered safely on an ongoing basis with the added protection essential to serving a multi-device market,” Steenkamp says.

While DRM systems use encryption and rights expressions to ensure that digital entertainment is used appropriately, the DRM itself is often a target for attack, he notes. Once the DRM is circumvented, the digital content is free for unauthorized copying and use. Even when implemented using modern device-specific hardware security, DRM solutions are not able to withstand and recover from the attacks currently faced on today’s increasingly open platforms, he adds.

As previously reported (November, p.36), Cloakware augments whatever hardware- or software-based security is used in a particular content distribution platform 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 associate with a device once the owner signs up for the service.

There’s no getting around the need for higher levels of security if electronic distribution of the most valuable premium content is going to take off, notes Gary Schultz, president and founder of Multimedia Research Group. A new study endorsed by the Motion Picture Association and NBC found that piracy accounts for over 24 percent of total traffic on the Web. To cite one example of how bad the situation is at present, Avatar in the first week of its release in theaters registered nearly one million illegal downloads on the Internet.

“As the value of premium video becomes more important to both consumers and service providers who want to display this content on multiple smart devices, so too the CAS/DRM technology must become more robust as content is handed off from one device to another,” Schultz says. “ActiveCloak for Media is a solution addressing these heightened security issues that will prevail as multi-display of premium video becomes the norm in digital homes.”

As described by Irdeto officials, ActiveCloak for Media takes application protection to a new level with integrated renewability, diverse security and piracy monitoring for a wide range of popular content distribution platforms – including tablets, smartphones, iPads, PCs, connected TVs, game consoles and hybrid set-top boxes (STBs). They say the solution will initially address the secure playback of recorded content from a DVR to a PC and the secure streaming of VOD content from the Internet to STBs or iOS and Android devices. They also note that in addition to expanding support to other popular media platforms in the near future, Irdeto plans to extend ActiveCloak to protect eBooks, apps and games.

“The major difference between ActiveCloak and standard DRMs is we’re taking responsibility for making sure the hacker model is broken,” Steenkamp says. “We’re going to recover so quickly from any breaches, they’ll see that they have wasted their time and resources and that it just wasn’t worth the effort.”

At its core, the system leverages lifecycle security services to continuously monitor and manage potential threats as long as a piece of content is in circulation, Steenkamp explains. Smart client device agents proactively protect embedded or downloadable media applications from attack, and a security server monitors the agents’ integrity and provides them with security updates. This allows security mechanisms to be reconfigured and automatically renewed on active devices to prevent loss of platform integrity over time.

“I think the problem that faces everybody moving into this new era of multiplatform Internet distribution comes back to you are as successful as the content you have in the pipe,” Steenkamp observes. “Aggregators will be evaluated on their ability to support high-value content, which requires them to convince content providers that they can safely deliver their assets to all those devices.”

He says Irdeto’s Cloakware technology is already in use on various platforms supported by Netflix, Adobe, Sony, Logitech and Comcast, and is a critical part of the Boxee Box by D-Link. Early ActiveCloak for Media customers include major global cable operators and several OTT service providers.