M+E Daily

CPS EU: Synamedia Tackles Streaming Piracy Threats

Pirates continue to steal billions in revenue from over-the-top (OTT) service providers by exploiting vulnerabilities at every link of the video distribution chain but there are steps that legitimate service providers can take to stop pirates, according to Synamedia.

Broadcast sports events are among the content that pirates love to steal, Simon Brydon, senior director of sports rights anti-piracy at Synamedia, said June 29 during the breakout session “Stealing the Stream: Mapping and Addressing Streaming Piracy Threats” at the Content Protection Summit Europe (CPS EU) event.

There are important sports events every day of the year that pirates target, he pointed out. But premium film content that has been made available on streaming services since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, including theatrical films released simultaneously on demand via OTT streaming services, have been targeted by pirates also, according to Orly Amsalem, principal business development manager of video anti-piracy at Synamedia.

As a result of those trends, we are seeing “new vulnerabilities on the distribution path that pirates can actually exploit and find new ways and new methods to steal your content,” she explained.

During the session, the Synamedia executives examined how streaming pirates operate in the ever evolving and sophisticated ecosystem, at every stage of the video distribution chain. They also discussed how pirates infiltrate a service and how fighting piracy requires a painstaking, forensic, intelligence-led approach and cutting-edge cyber solutions that work in synergy to disrupt and demotivate pirates at every point.

“There’s enormous competition between the legitimate broadcasters and service providers,” Brydon said, explaining: “They all need high-quality premium entertainment. They all need high-quality sports.

They need content that will drive a transaction – drive a subscriber. They need to bring a great user experience. They need competitive pricing. This requires investment, especially in content. And in this world content really, really is vital.”

But imagine if you can offer customers 40,000 channels, packaging every premium movie even before it’s available online and can also offer the finest live sports events too, he told viewers.

“That sounds really like a dream,” Amsalem said rhetorically. Brydon replied: “I think it’s more like a nightmare because this is what the pirates can do. How can a legal broadcaster compete with a pirate super aggregated service? It’s just simply impossible to compete. On product offering, the pirate can broadcast everything. It’s impossible to compete on price … . This is just not a fair fight and, with the amount of money on the table for the criminals, it is a fight that is not going to go away. This is extremely serious.”

There is a lot of content out there and not helping any is that it is simple and cheap for pirates to set up a service offering stolen content, Amsalem said. “The content and the service that they deliver… rivals the quality that is available from legitimate service providers. And let’s not forget that they are not paying for the content. So if we are not going to do something about it, then it will just get worse.”

They showed a video to demonstrate just how easy it is to set up an IPTV streaming service.

In response, Brydon said: “That is crazy. Somebody sitting at home with Google. A few hundred dollars. Off they go.”
However, “it even gets worse” for legitimate content service providers, said Amsalem. Pirates used to be “just about stealing your content,” she noted. But now they are also stealing your service and infrastructure. Pirates are stealing directly from your content delivery network (CDN), she added.

Services are also being stolen via credential sharing and credential theft, Brydon said, noting: “We see a big problem both with” OTT services being breached and credential sharing and credential theft, he pointed out.

Service providers are trying to solve the problems of credential sharing and theft through methods such as limiting the number of allowed registered devices or concurrent streams, Amsalem noted.

But “there are many weaknesses to current solutions,” Brydon said. Limiting the number of devices and concurrent streams doesn’t necessarily stop the problem because there can be an “abusive shared account with just a couple” of concurrent users, he noted.

Multi-factor authentication is another solution that is used for security but only 30 percent of OTT subscribers would do it with one client he knows of so that firm dropped it, he said, adding digital rights management (DRM) is good but not good enough.

“This is a serious, serious matter and you can not bring a knife to this gunfight,” he said, quoting Sean Connery’s famous line from the movie The Untouchables.

The executives went on to offer tips for organisations to crack down on pirates.

“Knowledge is power,” said Amsalem, explaining: “You need to know what’s going on when it comes to streaming piracy. You have to understand the entire threat landscape. You need to know who’s stealing from you, how they are doing this, where they are selling it to” and where your content is most popular. And monitoring capabilities are needed also, she said.

It is crucial to understand the threats to your service and Synamedia cyber-intelligence maps an organisation’s entire piracy landscape, according to the company.

The company’s ServiceGuard protects an organisation’s video delivery infrastructure, while its watermarking marks the source of leaks, its Credentials Sharing and Fraud Insight (CSFEeye) uncovers friendly and fraudulent sharing, and Streaming Piracy Disruption (SPD) locates, identifies and disrupts piracy events in real time, according to Synamedia.

Content Protection Summit Europe was presented by Convergent Risks, with sponsorship by Richey May Technology Solutions, Synamedia, BuyDRM, Friend MTS, NAGRA, and X Cyber Group. The event was produced by MESA, CDSA, the Hollywood IT Society (HITS) and Women in Technology Hollywood (WiTH), under the direction of the CDSA board of directors and content advisors representing Amazon Studios, Adobe, Paramount, BBC Studios, NBCUniversal, Lionsgate, WarnerMedia, Amblin Entertainment, Legendary Pictures, and Lego Group.