Video Encryption Types, Security Level, and Compatibility
Video encryption is the process of encoding your video so that it can not be accessed by anyone without the encryption key. Read more!
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Have you noticed how in recent years there has been a rapid increase in the number of OTT platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney plus and so much more? Almost everyone relies on these platforms to view content and for these platforms as well their content is the source of their income. But then again all these videos on these platforms were easily downloadable in the past and it is still now up to an extent.
Every year organizations lose billions of dollars in piracy. Almost all the content is freely available in different sources. Users can access video content for free without having to spend much money on it.
In recent years the piracy laws have been stricter. Popular websites like thepiratebay or kissanime have been brought down, which were used heavily by the users to access content for free. But pirates still find a way to work around all this. As long as the video content is downloadable, they’ll continue to do so.
This is where video encryption comes in. Encryptions stop any unauthorized access to your video content and curbs piracy to a substantial extent. In this blog, I'll shed some light on video encryption and how organizations are using it for video protection, in order to stop their content from being pirated.
What Is Video Encryption?
As you might already know, encryption refers to the process where a certain file or message is encoded so that it seems gibberish and can only be accessed with the help of an encryption key.
Similarly, video encryption is the process of encoding your video so that it can not be accessed by anyone without the encryption key. This stops any unwanted view or even download of the video. This puts a stop to any unwanted view or even download of your videos.
The videos are encrypted with the help of encoding software and hardware to protect the video content. When a user tries to access the encrypted video, they will get an encrypted file playing via a video player on their website or app.
In order to know more about video encryption, you can check out our blog on encrypted video streaming.
Types of Video Encryption
There are different video encryption technologies available, which can be used for video protection. The major video encryption technologies being used can be further classified on the basis that if the video is live or pre-recorded:
The major encrypted video streaming protocols are:
1. AES 128 Encryption:
It is the most common basic encryption technology used by developers to encrypt content and prevent raw video to be seen in the network. There have been modifications to this technology and there is another technology called “Sample AES 128 Encryption” for video playback.
2. HLS Encryption with AES-128:
In HLS Encryption, video streaming is done with the help of HLS protocol and the videos are encrypted using the AES-128 algorithm. HLS is compatible across a major variety of devices and browsers. HLS Streaming is different in its working as it provides chunked data transfer (instead of a single video stream). Adding AES 128 encryption over these video chunks enables encrypted playback called HLS Encryption or HLS E.
3. Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP) and RTMP Encrypted (RTMPE): Although initially RTMP was majorly built for live streaming, it is also used to stream video and audio in the Flash player on Desktop or Mobile apps. With Flash support for browsers about to end by this year, this use cases around RTMP are also rapidly on the decrease.
Why Are Videos On Youtube, Vimeo, Other Platforms Downloadable?
As you might have noticed, almost all the videos on Youtube and Vimeo are downloadable. You can do so easily with the help of plugins, free tools, and network suggestions.
- Some of these platforms like Vimeo & Youtube are not encrypting the content.
- Some platforms encrypt the content with any of the above 3 mentioned technology but still the videos are downloadable as the encryption keys are easily accessible. Tools like HLS Fetch, RTMP Dump, YTD, Video Download Helper help in finding the key thus making it easier to download or access videos. But this issue can be resolved by implementing DRM based Encryption.
DRM Based Encryption
DRM(Digital Rights Management) works alongside the HLS, DASH, and RTMP encryption to make the video more secure by making it impossible to find the encryption key. DRM effectively removes any flaws in the video encryption to ensure that the video is not downloadable. We cover the 2 most common DRMs maintained by Google and Apple in this article.
Google Widevine DRM:
Google Widevine is a DRM licensing and encryption solution by Google to help platforms to secure their premium content on Chrome, Firefox, Edge browsers on Desktop, Android Apps & Android TV.
What does it take to be a certified Google partner to implement Widevine DRM?
- A dedicated infrastructure to handle Widevine encryption and decryption APIs.
- Direct partnership with Google which involves the training of employees by the Widevine team.
- Modification in streaming protocols and video player to support Widevine DRM security.
Widevine Security Levels based on Devices - Android phones commonly available in the market are L1 or L3, Most higher-priced phones are L1.
Apple Fairplay DRM
FairPlay is a DRM technology by Apple Inc. Until 2009 it was used to protect copyrighted content sold on iTunes. Using Fairplay DRM you can protect content on Safari browsers, iOS, tvOS, and macOS.
The technical part of Fairplay is similar to Widevine DRM but a bit more complex in nature. Also, Fairplay only provides a license to the content owner or content distributor (and not too technical integrator).
DRM Compatibility and Browser Limitations -
Though DRMs provide the highest security, they limit compatibility. E.g Firefox in Android phones can not support Widevine DRM. One reason for many platforms not allowing mobile website is also DRM. All details on DRM compatibility are below-
Widevine DRM compatibility
- Desktop (Mac, Windows, Linux) - Updated Chrome, Firefox, Edge browsers.
- Android (Mac, Windows, Linux) - Updated Chrome, Edge, Samsung Internet browsers, Android Native App
- ChromeCast, Android TV
Apple Fairplay DRM compatibility
iOS Native App
All In All
A substantial amount of video content is being pirated by now. A lot of platforms often rely on video encryption to protect their content. In this article, I explore the basics of video encryption and the cases where it is vulnerable to being hacked. Also, we have explained in brief on how you can use DRM security along with the video encryption to get rid of the weakness.
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