Choosing a content security provider who adapts to evolving pirate tactics

Modern content pirates are smart. They have a deep understanding of the technology used by their victims, and by the cyber security services employed to prevent piracy. They constantly evolve their technology and adapt their processes to ensure that they maintain a steady flow of pirated content that they can redistribute and from which they can profit. If you are intent on stopping pirates from stealing your content and revenue, it is important to choose a content security partner who can anticipate, adapt and scale their anti-piracy techniques to not only keep pace with the shifting pirate landscape but to predict and match the content pirates’ talent for reinvention. 

Adapting as premium content shifts to streaming platforms

Live sporting events are jewels in the crowns of broadcast and pay-TV. But with changing viewing habits and the inexorable rise of streaming platforms, it is not surprising that sports leagues and franchises are increasingly available on streaming services. With the likes of Apple snapping up a long-term partnership with Major League Soccer (MLS) for $250m a year, the NFL betting $14m on its move to YouTube with Sunday Ticket, and Netflix teaming up with WWE for a raw $5bn, the fragmentation of sports content is very much a reality.      

This is good news for pirates because, while sport leagues and rights holders renegotiate to maintain mass appeal and engagement, pirates have found ways to exploit loopholes in OTT video streaming platforms and set up their own lucrative illegal alternatives. Faced with the growing number and increasing cost of subscriptions, sports fans are drawn to these pirate platforms as they look for cheaper ways to watch their favourite teams. 

With global spending on sports media rights continuing its eye-watering rise, and major sports events on the horizon in 2024 including the Olympic games, UEFA Euro 2024 and the T20 cricket world cup, it’s essential that a content security provider has the technology, solutions and experience to safeguard the billions of dollars now invested. 

Stopping and outwitting pirates needs a multi-discipline approach and varying capabilities and technologies. This should include the ability to instantly ratchet up protection at the flick of a switch, particularly for live sports where providers have to be ready for an influx of viewers and ready to deliver at scale.  For example, trace-to-source techniques like forensic watermarking can offer an effective way to identify and shut down the theft of valuable content in real time, whereas server-blocking technologies ensure rights holders and their licensees’ content is accessed only by legitimate audiences through authorised outlets. Fortunately law makers are also now increasingly recognising the need to take appropriate measures to fight unauthorised streaming.

Adapting as new platforms emerge

From Telegram to TikTok, social media is fast becoming a hotbed of content piracy. According to the WSJ, anonymous accounts are posting bite-sized clips of pirated content on TikTok intermixed with other types of videos to avoid detection while pirates use Telegram to disseminate information easily and instantly to huge, encrypted private chat groups and channels which attract millions of subscribers. 

Meanwhile, the illegitimate subscription of pirate IPTV services – often with names that sound like familiar brands – are on the rise. Some are so good that consumers think they’re using a genuine service. This can weaken the credibility of the brand and even prevent upsell opportunities. 

Addressing these changes within the pirate infrastructure, and the attack vectors pirates use, requires a content security provider with a multi-faceted toolkit and a proven track record of battling piracy in the real world. 

For example, by logging and tracking various geolocation, viewing duration, and other data points distributors can build and analyse behavioural patterns to offer insights into the pirates’ typical working methods and deploy the most relevant and effective prevention techniques.

Closed IPTV services represent another major threat. Operating in secrecy behind paywalls, combatting this type of piracy requires the attention of specialist teams who understand the nuances of the IPTV ecosystem, and have the technical prowess to infiltrate them.

Adapting as pirates find new ways to steal content

You can read more about content piracy trends in our blog, but one trend that will always be in vogue is that pirates will find new ways to exploit weaknesses in the content supply chain. 

CDN leeching is a particularly egregious example: by hacking and stealing content directly from a legitimate provider’s content distribution platform, pirates are adding insult to injury by having the legal service provider foot the bill to deliver pirated content to viewers.      

To ensure the continued protection of content, it’s essential that a content security provider’s solutions address all elements of the content chain including CDNs, DRM and multi-DRM, content processing services and social media platforms in order to analyse the networks being leeched, detect vulnerabilities and close any security gaps from end to end. And cross-functional relationships are critical – a content security provider has to develop and maintain strong inter-working relationships with ISPs, hosting providers, law enforcement and social media organisations to ensure that joined-up piracy prevention strategies are in place.

Constantly adapting to keep one step ahead

If this all sounds overwhelming then rest assured: you can keep on top of all these issues by partnering with a content security provider who has a deep understanding and broad, joined-up view of the pirate ecosystem, informed by the varying requirements of different customers, so they can swiftly detect and address new threats as they appear. For example, cropping out logos, overlaying graphics and resizing content are all ‘new’ techniques that pirates have adopted in order to avoid detection but have been quickly spotted and addressed by having the appropriate tools and technologies in place.

These should include large-scale automated monitoring and enforcement techniques combined with human expertise, actionable intelligence and insights. Given the sheer number of illicit sources, delivery platforms, apps and devices that pirates use and the speed stolen content spreads through extensive pirate networks, scale, scope, and automation all have critical roles to play to action a rapid response. 

And keeping one step ahead of new piracy methods requires the backing of a comprehensive R&D programme to ensure technologies and techniques are updated constantly and new capabilities are developed and implemented.

A security audit is another critical step to understanding your specific content security needs, by gaining insights into a platform’s performance and detecting potential vulnerabilities. Security audits should be carried out regularly to ensure a platform is robust to new forms of attack.


Your content protection checklist

When choosing a content security provider, make sure that they can:

Protect content of any type 

Work with any kind of platform 

Stop all kinds of piracy, however it evolves 

Scale up with you 

React quickly to new threats 


Friend MTS ticks all of the boxes. Talk to the experts.   
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