ABTA2012 has finally arrived(!) and we were fortunate enough to catch our EVP Corporate Strategy, Hamdane Noureddine, for a few questions about piracy and security just before he goes on stage and participates in the ABTA2012 panel “Combating piracy: strategies and approaches” (Aug. 2nd, 11:00 am).
Noureddine, can you walk us through the history of Pay TV piracy? How has it changed over the years?
The history of Pay TV piracy coincides with the history of Pay TV and goes back to the 1980s. At the time, it was more of a hobby / non-lucrative type of activity. Some engineers would handcraft pirate devices for themselves and their relatives. Today, Pay TV piracy has become a sophisticated global industry involving hackers, high-tech laboratories, manufacturers and distributors from across the globe. Internet has also played a major role in facilitating the worldwide distribution of pirate devices.
How do you think piracy will evolve? And how will Viaccess-Orca meet these challenges?
Since content security solutions have also evolved, and conditional access smart cards have become very hard to hack, there are now new ways to pirate pay TV signal without the need to crack a smart card. Among them is what we call “Control-word sharing” which consists of using a counterfeit set top box especially designed for CW-sharing services.
Viaccess-Orca has developed an innovative solution to tackle these new piracy technics. On the one hand, we have implemented chipset pairing which makes CW-sharing inefficient for those customers who use controlled set top box i.e., do not support grey market non Viaccess-Orca certified STBs. On the other hand, our latest generation of smart cards includes detect & sanction mechanisms that enable us to detect when an illegal smart card is being used in CW-sharing and our customer (the content service provider) can decide what sanction to take in such a case.
In your opinion, is Cardless technology more or less efficient against piracy than card based solution?
This is a very good question as there is a lot of confusion surrounding this topic. This confusion is caused by various players who are trying to convince others that they can achieve the same level of smart card security with cardless solutions.
The truth is that a robust content security requires a combination of hardware, software and networks security elements. Even the so-called “cardless solutions” rely on hardware elements that are built-in the set top box chipset or around it.
For this reason, I prefer to call such a solution an “embedded CAS” as they tackle the issue of embedding hardware elements in the set-top box. While we can discuss the respective operational flexibilities of smart card based and embedded CAS, its clear that each has its own pros and cons.
But when it comes to the level of security, smart cards provide, and will continue to provide, the ultimate level of hardware security.
What are the new challenges brought about by multi screen?
With multi-screen, content service providers have to make their content available not only on the devices they control (managed devices like set top boxes) but also on consumer electronic devices that they do not control (unmanaged devices).
This raises technological challenges especially when it comes to protecting content on devices that are insecure by design such as Android devices.
It is vital that the level of security on all such devices be optimum as the principle of the weakest link applies and pirate attacks would focus on the less secure implementation.
Providing a robust content security on all types of devices, requires very special skills and expertise that only few players actually have.
How much damage can piracy cause the TV industry?
The cost of piracy to the TV industry worldwide is estimated at billions of Dollars and this figure continues to increase over time.
The industry needs to continue investing in content security. Despite the economic pressure we still advise content service providers to resist the temptation to go for low cost solutions and select content security vendors that are committed to supporting them in the long-run; This support is implemented not only by providing the most advanced technology but also by assisting in all fronts of the battle against piracy including legislation (help with lobbying for legislation that would enable the prosecution of pirate organizations, etc.), education of Police and Custom Authorities (to help them identify counterfeited pirate devices), investigation and tracking of piracy networks across the globe, monitoring of content sharing over the Internet.
All these are part of our 360° anti-piracy strategy. A strategy which our customers are very satisfied with, given the peace of mind they enjoy by having a partner like us which is fully committed to protecting and enhancing the value of their content services.
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We thank Morad Stern and Viaccess-Orca in sharing this post with Broadcast Brazil.