AES Video Encryption – The Ultimate Guide to Streaming Video Security [2021 Update]
Table of Contents
The live video streaming market is predicted to be worth $102.09 billion by 2023. The rise of this industry has coincided with the growth of the internet and the trend towards virtual event attendance, distance learning, remote work, and the development of video for marketing and sales.
The downside to this rapid growth is the equally rising issue of cybersecurity threats. Security firms are reporting an increase in piracy, hacking, and other digital attacks every year, and the video industry is no exception.
Luckily, there are several video security solutions, including AES video encryption.
In this post, we will examine AES video encryption in detail. We will discuss what video encryption is, who should use it, and how it works. We will wrap this post up with a few additional video security methods. Video encryption can help you protect your content against rising cybersecurity threats.
Table of Contents
- What is AES Video Encryption?
- Who Needs AES Video Encryption?
- Benefits of Encrypting Video Streams
- Technical Overview of AES Video Encryption
- AES-256 vs. AES-128
- How to Encrypt Video with AES
- Additional Cyber Security Measures
What is AES Video Encryption?
AES stands for “Advanced Encryption Standard.” TechTarget says that AES encryption is “a symmetric block cipher chosen by the U.S. government to protect classified information and is implemented in software and hardware throughout the world to encrypt sensitive data.”
Unless the viewer has the correct digital access key, they can’t access the video. Furthermore, if they try to intercept it, all they’ll see is a scrambled mess of useless data. Authorized viewers can access AES-encrypted video via their web browser and a secure HTTPS connection.
This entire process plays out in a way that’s transparent to the users. All they have to do is gain legitimate access to the video, by logging in or accessing the right website. The encryption process may be invisible but it provides a significant layer of protection against interception and piracy. AES video encryption works behind the scenes to ensure that video content is accessed in the right location, by the right people who have access to it.
Who Needs AES Video Encryption?
Simply put, AES video encryption can be extremely valuable to anyone who needs to keep the video private. If you need to protect your valuable video content from being viewed or stolen by unauthorized people, AES is for you.
For example, if you have private internal content or if you sell video courses online, your videos must remain exclusive. In those cases, videos should remain for subscribers or your internal team only.
AES often works in combination with other security measures to keep your videos as secure as possible. That way, you can keep private internal content private, and you can retain the monetization value of your video content as well through AES video encryption.
Although anyone can use AES video stream encryption, here are a few types of businesses and industries that benefit from this security measure:
- Government organizations
- Enterprise businesses and SMBs
- OTT and entertainment companies
- Education and eLearning
- Live event streaming
For OTT streaming and entertainment businesses, avoiding content piracy is essential to the business model. For educational institutions and eLearning businesses, the stakes are similarly high. AES encryption can also be highly valuable in corporate and government settings, where unauthorized data leaks can be a significant issue.
Anyone who wants to keep their video content from being copied should consider AES video encryption. Piracy costs the U.S. economy more than $20 billion per year. The price tag internationally, however, is even bigger. That is why video encryption is so valuable.
Benefits of Encrypting Video Streams
AES video encryption prevents “Man-in-the-Middle” (MITM) style hacking attacks. In this type of attack, someone intercepts network traffic to steal sensitive data.
You may have heard that using public, unsecured WiFi networks can be dangerous, and MITM attacks are the reason why. For example, if you log in to your bank at the local Starbucks, and you might have exposed your financial details to a hacker.
In general, these types of attacks are relatively simple. Tools such as packet sniffers are widely available, and any person with even a little technical knowledge can download and get one running easily.
More concerning, however, are the professional hackers. These individuals look to gather sensitive information, corporate details, and the latest popular video content to resell on the dark web. This is a growing problem. This is a growing problem and is why encrypted video streaming is on the rise.
Akamai, one of the top-tier content delivery networks that many streaming platforms partner with, has reported that credential theft for online video subscriptions is a major issue. Millions of accounts are compromised every year.
AES video encryption allows you to prevent these types of attacks completely. Anyone snooping on your streams will be halted by AES encryption. This gives you protection against piracy, data theft, intellectual property appropriation, and more. Video encryptors help to protect the integrity of your content.
Technical Overview of AES Video Encryption: Development and Strength
As computers have grown more powerful, data encryption technology has been forced to grow stronger, as well. AES was originally released in 2002 by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. It was designed to be as secure as possible, be free, and be relatively easy for programmers to implement.
Since then, AES video encryption has proven itself to be a strong and reliable security method. It’s still widely used in banking, government, military, and business.
AES is free, open-source, and built-in to the hardware and software of many devices. Any time you connect to a secure WiFi network or use a VOIP calling app, you’re using AES without even realizing it.
Whether it’s used in video or for anything else, AES works the same way. It uses the Rijndael algorithm and symmetrical block ciphers to encrypt the content. This is a complex process of mathematical substitution that repeats to turn content in a jumbled mash.
Unless the proper key is applied, the data is completely worthless. For example, AES encryption may turn this very sentence into something like “aflkjsfasf12 324spoudsafa 23dsgmzxc qpoaqwe67 asdj2k39.”
However, it’s important to be aware that it is possible to bypass AES video encryption. Like most security measures, it won’t stop someone who has legitimate access to your content from duplicating it, since anyone can point a video camera at their screen and duplicate your content.
Therefore, AES should be just one part of your larger security strategy.
AES-256 vs. AES-128
There are some variations within AES technology. The AES standard uses key sizes of 128, 192, or 256 bits. This means that the key (or the secret code that secures the content) is either 128, 192, or 256 characters in length.
Those with the proper encryption key can use it to reverse the encryption process and see the original unencrypted data.
In general, AES-128 video encryption should be plenty secure for most use-cases. If you’re sending particularly sensitive information, you can choose to use AES-256. The only drawback is that encoding and playing back this video will require a little more CPU resources from your viewers.
However, in 2015 the NSA stopped recommending the use of 128-bit keys for AES encryption and started recommending 256. Today, most professionals recommend 256-bit keys as a matter of course. Most modern hardware should have no trouble at all decoding video encrypted with a 256-bit key.
How to Encrypt Video with AES
Implementing AES video encryption might sound rather technical, but if you’re using the right secure video streaming platform, implementing AES encryption is as simple as a single click of a button on your video dashboard.
By turning on this security feature, you can provide a significant layer of security for your content. It’s all invisible to both you and your viewers. There’s no programming required and nothing new to learn. You just have to enable video encryption on your content with your video streaming platform.
AES Encryption on Dacast
Dacast has recently reintroduced AES streaming for our users in the new iteration of our platform. Our encryption process is bulletproof because we use special servers to encrypt the data before it is even sent to the video player in addition to encrypting the video player itself.
Enabling AES encryption on our platform is very straightforward. You can follow these steps to enable AES video encryption on new or existing VOD files on your Dacast account:
- Sign in to your Dacast dashboard
- Choose the video that you would like to add AES encryption for
- Click the “Security” tab on the top menu bar
- Scroll to the “Advanced Encryption Standard” (AES) section and toggle to the right to turn it on
- Click the purple “Save” button
From there, you’re good to go. Feel free to review the other security options on the page while you’re enabling AES to make sure that your security settings are properly configured and aligned with your streaming goals.
Additional Streaming Cybersecurity Measures
In order to keep your video content safe against cybersecurity threats, we recommend doubling or tripling up on your lines of defense.
Aside from online video encryption, there are several other measures you can take to make your content more secure.
Some of the most popular video security tools include:
- Password protection: Add a “first line of defense” against unauthorized viewers by requiring a password to access your content
- Geo-restrictions: Restrict access based on viewers’ physical location
- Domain/referrer-restrictions: Restrict access based on the website that your player is embedded in (i.e. limit access to players embedded in your website only)
- Tokenized security: Limit access to viewers that have the specified digital credentials
Now that you’re familiar with AES video encryption and how it works, we hope that you consider using it as part of your video hosting security strategy.
Encrypted streaming is truly one of the best methods broadcasters and businesses can use today to protect their video content.
We invite you to try these and our other private video hosting tools risk-free for 14 days. Sign up today to start your trial. No credit card is required.
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