Irdeto: Adapting to Changing Content Security Needs

Founded in 1969, Netherlands-based security firm Irdeto is coming up on its 50th anniversary, and the company’s longevity can be tied to adapting to the changing needs of its clients, especially in the media and entertainment space.

Today, Irdeto helps its M&E customers manage new tech implementations and accommodate consumer demand for multiscreen experiences, all while combating the latest, sophisticated online piracy techniques. The company’s suite of M&E security products is used by studios, sports rights holders, and OTT and broadcast operators.

The team at Irdeto spoke with the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) about the ever-changing needs of content protection, the challenges of OTT today, and the reasons why some people choose to steal content.

MESA: How did the company first come about, and (especially in recent years) how has the company’s focus changed? 

Irdeto: For nearly 50 years, Irdeto has worked with software application providers, connected device manufacturers, pay-media operators and content creators to secure their products and business models. We have a rich heritage in the industry, are agile and know what to do when attacks happen. While many competitors touch on multiple product categories, we truly focus on security. It’s in our DNA, we’re the best at it and we can prepare you for the future. In addition, we think holistically with a true end-to-end solution – it’s not enough to excel in one area of security. We differentiate by having a 360 view of security that is as deep as it is comprehensive, and can actually leverage that view to solve business challenges and predict the challenges on the horizon. Today, our software security technology and cyber services protect more than 5 billion devices and applications against cyberattacks for some of the world’s best-known brands.

MESA: In the overall media and entertainment space, how have cybersecurity and content protection needs evolved in recent years? And what can content owners and distributors be doing better to protect their intellectual property?

Irdeto: The media industry has been undergoing unprecedented change. Much of this evolution has been driven by technology innovation, giants (such as Apple, Amazon and Netflix) entering this space, and ecosystem fragmentation. Internet-based video is increasing sharply, fueled by these changes, and it’s forecasted to achieve 55% year over year growth from 2015 to 2021 (source: Ericsson 2016). While no one can predict exactly what further changes lie ahead, we can be sure three trends will continue for the long-term:

  • Consumers want OTT services on their own devices. Operators must ensure their services can support consumers’ devices of choice.
  • Consumers will continually expect more value for their money – more content and more convenience, at an attractive price.
  • Consumers want customized experiences. Building flexibility into the business models will maximize value for both operators and their customers.

As a result, defining a solid hybrid strategy that meets both security requirements and business needs is critical to make this evolution as painless and risk-free as possible.  In today’s competitive environment, it’s not wise for the business to treat security as a tick in the box exercise. Mastering the requirements and leveraging security to differentiate your offering is going to be the safest bet to grow your business.

Premium security today means 360-degree protection trusted by content owners, from protecting broadcast and OTT services, to end-to-end piracy control and watermarking. Premium security can also come in the form of software, when the software is protected by innovative technologies such as whitebox cryptography. Having the best security without having hardware and the logistics burden associated with managing hardware gives operators significant cost savings.

With consumers’ increasing expectations around OTT, it is crucial for operators to be able to reach consumers on any device, while securely delivering premium content and a great user experience. A software-based security solution will allow operators to do this, while providing an easily renewable solution to stay ahead of piracy without hardware dependencies. While security must be robust it should also act as an enabler on which operators can grow their OTT offering and, subsequently, their business. Having the right security partner and a proactive security strategy is essential to transform your business for the OTT future.

MESA: Irdeto offers media and entertainment content security for every corner of entertainment, including studios, sports, OTT and broadcast operators. What are the unique security needs for each?

Irdeto: In today’s competitive landscape, content owners and operators need to manage multiple new technology implementations, such as 4K Ultra HD, combat the growing scale and sophistication of online piracy, and accommodate consumer demand for high quality, multiscreen experiences. While these challenges exist across the board, we have identified unique security challenges that impact each player in the media & entertainment space:

  • As the broadcast and IP-connected worlds continue to converge, operators worldwide are facing new demands and competition today unlike anything they’ve experienced in the past. New OTT service providers are coming online and growing rapidly as broadband access and IP-connected devices become widely available. Consumers have more service options – both legal and illegal. Operators must be agile in offering innovative services across a wide range of devices and have a robust and flexible security strategy to acquire the premium content such as 4K. We believe that businesses must have the freedom to innovate and the confidence to take risks to be in control of their future. To help our customers take control, we secure their infrastructure and content and give them the flexibility for the future with a technology-agnostic and service oriented approach.
  • As high-quality content (such as 4K) becomes increasingly available worldwide, the need for studies to minimize all piracy threats becomes critical. A breach of an early release box-office movie can have considerable revenue impact across the studio’s entire distribution chain. Irdeto protects studio’s 4K premium content (meeting MovieLabs’ security specifications) across the full range of distribution channels, including theatrical, physical and digital production.
  • Sports rights holders and broadcasters are a driving force behind any pay media model. Illegal streaming of live sports immediately devalues the sports rights holders’ revenue and reputation with every passing minute. Irdeto helps top sports broadcasters and operators in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Australia to protect their most valued content and live events.

MESA: What challenges exist today in detecting, removing and reporting pirated content, and how do Irdeto’s tools stand out when it comes to reducing piracy

Irdeto: Pirated content is more prolific and appears online faster than ever before. No longer is it only legal offerings competing against each other for market share, organizations now face a formidable foe providing illegal offerings to the masses. Pirates continue to evolve their business models, strategies and product marketing capabilities to appeal to consumer demand. Pirates study the market, including legal solutions and services from reputable content providers, to determine how they should position their offerings to their consumers. These strategies have transformed pirate businesses from a nuisance into a global epidemic that plagues the content creation business. And unfortunately, these pirate strategies are working. The Irdeto Global Consumer Piracy Survey of more than 25,000 adults across 30 countries found that 52% of consumers around the globe watch pirated video content.

For the media and entertainment industry to successfully combat this growing epidemic, an intelligence-based approach is key. It starts with understanding everything about pirate competitors. As well as gathering insights about the consumers who are fueling the piracy growth by buying illegal offerings and sharing copyrighted content online. Irdeto has a global team of multi-disciplinary specialists and proven methodologies to combat piracy. We have a successful track record in rapidly identifying and disrupting piracy and leveraging our established networks to track down pirates and their supply chains. This intelligence-driven approach, combined with a 360-degree anti-piracy strategy, will help the market take the battle against piracy to the next level.

MESA: What are some of Irdeto’s favorite use case examples, where M&E companies have made especially good use of the company’s services?

Irdeto: We establish long-term relationships with our customers through collaboration and open communication, and our team is an extension of their team. We provide our customers with tools for success and continually align our vision and theirs. Not only that, we also connect our customers to each other to share best practices. You can view a list of Irdeto customers and case studies here:

MESA: What’s next for Irdeto, what can we look forward to from the company in the future? 

Irdeto: Every industry has its own cycle of transitioning to the digital world. As we live in an increasingly connected world, and with the internet of things (IoT) expanding rapidly across the globe, the consumer’s exposure to security risks is escalating daily. Irdeto knows how to address these challenges in a renewable, diversified and future-proof way, because we have done so many times before. At Irdeto, we believe that privacy and protection against cyber criminals is fundamental to building a healthy and safe digital future. We also believe that businesses should be able to innovate freely and without fear. We do this by providing a modular, software-based security platform tailored for the needs of each industry. Our solutions and services are well positioned to enable media & entertainment, automotive and IoT connected industry customers to protect their brand and revenue, create new offerings and fight cybercrime.