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Access Revocation: A Content Provider's Tool to Block Pirates in Real time

Akamai Announces New Capability to Allows Content Providers to Shut Down Sources of Piracy ...

The Growth of Global Online Video Consumption and Piracy

Media and entertainment companies, including Content owners and Over-the-top (OTT) service providers are living in an era that provides them an opportunity larger than ever with rapid growth in consumption globally. Here are a few statistics that define the state of the industry:

  • Globally, consumers will spend 84 minutes a day watching online video in 2020, up 25% from 2018[1].
  • By the end of 2019, video will make up 80% of all internet traffic. In Q2, 2018, Mobile's share of the video starts, hit a record 62%, surging 9.8%, the largest increase compared to previous 5 quarters[2].
  • According to the Cisco Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast, annual global mobile data traffic has grown 17-fold over the past 5 years and is expected to reach one zettabyte by the end of 2022[3].

While video content consumption is exploding globally, the widespread availability of online video content, coupled with factors like hyper-connected devices and ubiquitous high-speed data, is making piracy a real and present-day danger for media organizations.

According to a survey of almost 200 media technology influencers and decision-makers conducted by Akamai, security incidents go beyond stealing premium content, are widespread, and consist of different types. The four most frequent ones according the survey were SQL injections (23%), DNS attacks (21%), content piracy (20%), and DDoS (17%)[4].

access rev one.pngSite Downtime and Enterprise Application Security are also growing concerns. However, 23% of organizations are also concerned about protecting their premium video content.

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Now, what's even more interesting is, despite these growing concerns around security and piracy, Media organizations are not completely confident with their current security measures and only 1% of the survey respondents indicated that they are "very confident" in their current security measures[5].

Content Piracy Ecosystem and the Technical Threat Landscape

Let's start looking at the piracy ecosystem with a technical lens. The diagram below represents the streaming workflow at a very high level.

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In an ideal world, live or VoD content would be delivered by a cloud delivery platform to legitimate users who have paid for the content and the streams delivered can be monetized by the content provider. The real-world scenario is different though ...

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The picture above shows what streaming begins to look like in this real-world scenario. Different forms of piracy start impacting the video delivery workflow. There might be genuine users who are paying for the content but start sharing their credentials with other users. There might be other pirate sites that sign up with the content providers in a single-user model and reach out to the cloud delivery platform to receive the content but would then start re-distributing the content. There might be pirates who would use sophisticated piracy tools like re-encoders or stream ripping tools to grab the content and redistribute it, hence limiting the monetization opportunities for content providers.

Another popular content piracy technique is circumventing geo-restriction around the content by using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and proxy servers to mask the unauthorized IP address or proxy it to make it look like an authorized IP. Bypassing geo-restrictions on the content and allowing it to be available in unauthorized regions are a violation of copyright laws and might lead to media companies breaching their contractual obligations with their rights' holders[6].

Credential and Link Sharing Plaguing OTT and Pay-TV

Research by Parks Associates forecasts that, in 2019, revenue lost due to piracy and account sharing by OTT and Pay-TV companies will be $9.1 billion which is expected to grow to $12.5 billion in 2024, at a growth rate of 38%[7]. According to the Akamai Media Security survey report, preventing link sharing was the second biggest challenge organizations face in their on-going process to profitably provide premium video content services[8].

Given the magnitude of this exposure, media organizations need to protect themselves against credential sharing to maximize their revenue opportunities, to protect customer loyalty and brand equity and to prevent legal implications. Akamai provides an innovative new technology that is designed to prevent piracy attacks such as link or credential sharing and restreaming to thwart unauthorized access to streaming content in real-time.

Akamai's Access Revocation Solution

Akamai provides a robust media content security solution portfolio designed to help media organizations prevent content piracy and unauthorized access and maximize monetization opportunities for media customers. The portfolio provides solutions centered on key capabilities including user authentication[9], geo-restrictions[10], encryption, watermarking and securing last mile delivery[11] using Standard TLS.

Akamai's Access Revocation capability provides the ability for media organizations to revoke an active video streaming session in real-time that is either unauthorized or is the source of piracy.

The Access Revocation solution is built on top of the Token Authentication solution, which is an existing functionality available to media streaming customers to allow them to control access to their content by associating a token with a playback URL. The Access Revocation capability provides an additional layer of protection for content providers by providing the ability to revoke access to a given token in real-time. The capability has the following features:

  • Get all active playback sessions, revocation and un-revocation status for subscribers using APIs
  • Support for Revocation & Authorization granularity at subscriber, content & playback session levels
  • Both Live streaming and VoD streaming use cases are supported
  • Highly scalable, efficient and high performance to support large scale live and on-demand events
  • API call for the token identifier to revoke access in near-real time with minimum latency
  • Detailed reporting to provide visibility around requests denied due to revocation and associated device, OS, network type, regional details as well as time, hostname, Stream URLs being pirated
  • Open APIs that are easy to integrate into DIY or 3rd party piracy detection services*.

*Watermark-based piracy detection services of FriendMTS and Nagra offer integrated solutions with Akamai's Access Revocation.

Akamai's Access Revocation solution can help media organizations maximize monetization opportunities by minimizing piracy, resulting in increased authorized users, greater advertising revenues, more licensing rights for new events and wider territories. It will also help organizations avoid reputational damage to their brand value due to piracy and help them manage legal obligations with the content owners with respect to their licensing rights.


 


 



 


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