One-third of all online activity is spent watching OTT video. And with good reason. Video is valuable. Businesses are using online video and live streaming for marketing, internal communications, training, sales, and more.
79 percent of all global consumer web traffic will come from video by 2018. Times are clearly changing. Live streaming is leading the way, and in this environment, security is essential. Many businesses and other organizations have a need for a secure, private live streaming service.
This blog will dive into this topic in detail. Specifically, we’ll examine the features of a secure live streaming service. We’ll also discuss threat modeling, which helps you to consider different threat vectors and how they function. Finally, we’ll also go over a list of the key industries that need a private live streaming service.
What is a secure live streaming service?
So just what is a secure live streaming service? Simply put, only authorized users should have access to a secure live stream. These may include certain employees or managers, clients, or paying customers. Whoever it is, access is usually the primary problem with live stream security.
Luckily, there are a variety of live streaming security features to offset various privacy threats. We’ll dive into these shortly. First, however, let’s take a quick look at types of private events and threat modeling.
Types of private events: who benefits from security?
Many different users need a secure, private live streaming service. These users include:
- Corporations need to carefully guard inside information. This may include trade secrets, unreleased financial data, strategic plans, and more. Even information that may seem innocuous may cause embarrassment and financial losses if leaked to the public.
- Media businesses and entertainers always need to be concerned with content piracy. Unauthorized copying of TV shows, movies, sports feeds, concerts, and other events costs artists billions per year. Security features can help avoid or mitigate this issue.
- Medical institutions that work with confidential information are also at risk. HIPAA (in the US) and other laws mandate information security around client information. There are severe penalties for exposing patient information.
- Attorneys also need to protect client information. Though this confidentiality is ensured by law, lawyers are also obligated to take measures to increase security. Using a private live streaming service for any broadcast-related needs is included in this.
- Schools and Universities also may need a secure live streaming service. Student information is private and protected by law. Additionally, sensitive information like social security numbers and grades may be contained in student records.
- Governments often deal with sensitive information of one sort or another. Live streaming can be extremely useful in these contexts. Using a secure live streaming service to ensure content privacy is essential.
The attacks to thwart: threat modeling
When facing any type of digital threat, security experts recommend you conduct a threat modeling exercise. This can be broken down into a simple series of five questions:
- What do I want to protect?
- Who do I want to protect it from?
- How bad are the consequences if I fail?
- How likely is it that I will need to protect it?
- What degree of effort am I willing to take to prevent potential consequences?
Security firms are seeing an increase in piracy, hacking, and other digital attacks every year. The costs of cybercrime could reach $6 trillion by 2021. These are serious questions to consider and answer.
Once you have answered these questions, you will have a better sense of how to use the features below.
Features of a secure live streaming service
Let’s switch gears and start looking at the specific features of a secure live streaming service. We’re going to look in detail at six features, including:
- Geographic restrictions
- Referrer (or domain) restrictions
- Password protection
- Payment security
- Tokenized video delivery
Let’s get started!
1. Geographic restrictions
The first security feature we highlight is geographic restriction. The geographic restriction is a feature of a secure live streaming service that allows you to “whitelist” certain countries. Users in those countries will be able to access your content. Users in other countries will be automatically blacklisted.
If you’re targeting an audience in one country, or just a few countries, there’s no reason to make your stream accessible globally. Geo-restrictions allow you to lock down access. This is done based on IP addresses and is typically nearly 100 percent accurate.
However, be aware that determined users may be able to use a VPN or proxy to bypass this protection. Similar weaknesses exist in many security features. This points to the importance of using multiple layers of security, such as our next feature.
2. Referrer (domain) restrictions
In internet terminology, a “referrer” is the site that links you to a given site. Say you search in Google for a term, then click a link. Your “referrer” to this site is Google.
Pirates and other hackers often post links to illicit live streams on forums and chat rooms. The referrer restriction feature aims to combat this. This setting allows you to “whitelist” certain domains. In effect, users can only access your live stream if this list includes their unique referrer. Users who attempt to watch with an improper referrer will be unable to access the stream.
3. Password protection
This is a simple one. Password protection is just what it sounds like. When you enable this security setting via your live streaming service, you choose a password. When a viewer wants to access your live stream, they will need to enter the password. Without it, they will be unable to watch.
Additionally, you can change this password anytime–particularly if you or a viewer leak or forgets it, among other reasons.
4. Payment Security / SSL
Many people are choosing to monetize their live streams and online video. Broadcasters can generate revenue from streaming videos in a variety of ways. Advertising is perhaps the most common. But other methods that include direct payment are also popular. These methods include “Transactional” (Pay-Per-View) or “Subscriptions.” Both are effective depending on the particular case.
To buy access to a live stream in this situation, users enter credit card information. Of course, you want to ensure your viewers’ personal information is secure. Dacast and other live streaming service providers provide this security via standard SSL encryption. SSL is a bank-grade protocol that everyone should use, each and every time you make an online payment.
If you’re implementing any monetization on your live streams, make sure your live streaming service is using SSL encryption.
5. Tokenized video delivery
Tokenized security is another method of bringing greater security in the content delivery and video industry. This security setting is activated on Dacast whenever you embed a video on a website or share it on social platforms.
Every two minutes, the Dacast player will contact our server for a new token. As part of this exchange, we re-check domain restrictions, geographic restrictions, and other security measures. If anything does not match the security criteria, we won’t receive the token and, as a direct result, the playback will fail.
This process is totally transparent to the user but provides a strong additional layer of protection to a live stream. Any unauthorized stream detected via this method will not last more than a minute or two before automatic deactivation.
HTTPS is a standard web communication protocol with additional security measures. Primarily, HTTPS involves encryption. All live streams delivered via HTTPS are encrypted in transit. This prevents so-called “person-in-the-middle” attacks, by stopping people from eavesdropping via signal hijacking. It also prevents someone from tampering with the stream while in transit.
HTTPS also provides authentication. In fact, it cryptographically verifies that content is truly originating from where you think it did. This protocol is increasingly becoming the standard for the entire internet, especially when broadcasting live video.
Security is a serious issue. Piracy alone costs the U.S. economy more than $20 billion per year. And the live streaming industry is no exception to the importance of top-tier security features to protect your live broadcasts. We hope this article has helped you to understand how to fight back against hackers, pirates, and other threats.
As you likely know, Dacast helps a wide range of businesses with our secure live streaming service. If you’d like to try out our streaming solutions, and check out how our live streaming video platform could boost your business, click below to sign up for our 30-day free trial (no credit card required).
Any questions, comments, or ideas to share? Feel free to write to us in the comment section below! We love to hear from our readers. And for regular tips on live streaming in a community of experts, as well as an exclusive offer, feel free to join our LinkedIn group.
Thanks for reading, and good luck with your live streaming security.