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Irdeto cranks up content protection beyond DRM

Mon, 02/28/2011 - 7:30am
Brian Santo

Irdeto formally announced a new content protection system.

The technology is already being used in the Boxee Box; Irdeto said Boxee's ability to cut a deal with Netflix was predicated on Boxee adopting content protection that was strong enough. Boxee is using Irdeto's ActiveCloak for Media.

Irdeto's approach is to add another layer of protection on top of whatever digital rights management (DRM) scheme a multichannel video program distributor (MVPD) uses. The idea is to not encode any given video asset, but to encode different transmissions of that asset in a number of different ways.

The result is that it not only makes it harder for hackers to pirate any asset, but it also makes it economically difficult to justify the hack. If, as a hacker, you've solved only one way out of 10, your hack will only work on 10 percent of the boxes in use. Thus the Irdeto approach creates a situation in which it's not worth hackers' efforts to perform the hack.

The new Cloakware version enhances basic DRM platforms 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 STBs.

The problem is that DRM can be hacked. Irdeto's Cloakware makes it so that the encoding on any given asset can be upgraded after it is transmitted. Cloakware can also monitor if anyone is trying to hack the coding and report back that an attempt is being made. If there is a hacking attempt, the system can actually render the asset unplayable.

The approach is dependent on smart client device agents protecting embedded or downloadable media applications from attack. A security server monitors the agents' integrity and provides them with security updates.

Cloakware is currently aimed at three applications, according to Christopher Schouten, Irdeto's senior director of solution marketing. One is securing over-the-top (OTT) sent to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Another is set-top boxes (the Logitech Boxee Box is an example), and the last target is multi-room DVR.

As higher-quality video is getting distributed, content owners are looking for ever-more sophisticated protection schemes. "The iPad can handle 720p," Schouten noted, "that's pretty high quality."

"Premium content is the lifeblood of the entertainment industry, and DRM alone cannot protect critical digital assets from the persistent attacks of today's savvy hackers. Whether you create the content or distribute it, it must be protected from every angle," said Graham Kill, CEO of Irdeto. "With ActiveCloak for Media, Irdeto will enable content providers to take advantage of these exploding market opportunities and monetize their content without jeopardizing content owner relationships and having to compromise their digital media business models."

Irdeto said Cloakware is in use 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.

The solution will initially address the secure playback of recorded content from a PVR to a PC and the secure streaming of VOD content from the Internet to STBs or iOS and Android devices.

In addition to expanding support to other popular media platforms in the near future, Irdeto also plans to extend ActiveCloak to protect eBooks, apps and games.

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