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Why intelligence-based anti-piracy services reveal the new piracy landscape

Video piracy has entered a new era. Intelligence-based anti-piracy services are the answer.

Home > Why intelligence-based anti-piracy services reveal the new piracy landscape

Jan 12, 2021

By Marta

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By James Clark, Director, Global Security Business Development at Synamedia


Video piracy has evolved into a fully industrialised parallel industry – bigger, bolder, more targeted and more lucrative than yesterday’s scattered threat landscape.

Traditional anti-piracy methods and services simply aren’t built to respond to a bigger and more sophisticated threat. As we’ll go on to see, to truly understand – and respond – to the new piracy landscape, you need a more strategic, data-driven and proactive approach.

That’s where intelligence-driven anti-piracy services come in.

We’re going to explore why an intelligence driven approach is the only way to really understand how the piracy landscape has changed, before seeing how other video service providers are already putting it to work.

Let’s dive in.


The pirate landscape has shifted – it’s bigger and badder than ever

Forget about the age of disorganized hackers and isolated actors poaching content for small gains. 

Today’s biggest piracy threats are sophisticated criminal enterprises that operate like legitimate competitors – often running highly-polished illicit subscription services using stolen content and credentials. 

And that’s causing big problems for video providers. In 2018, video piracy cost the US economy $29 billion in revenue. By 2023, that number is expected to surpass $67 billion globally.

These pirates are not just taking content – they’re poaching audiences, leeching profits and putting individuals at risk.

And while they run like legitimate businesses, they’re unencumbered by any of the traditional complexity or overheads. They’re free to focus 100% of their resources on aggregating and bundling as much stolen content as possible into offerings that no legitimate provider can match.

The first step to prevention is knowledge – you need to understand the new attack surface, the new threat actors, the new methods they use.

And to do that, you need to take an intelligence-driven approach. 


The new piracy landscape

The sheer scale and complexity of the piracy threat landscape can be hard to grasp – even when laid out in full.

This is the new piracy landscape (you can download the full version here).

The end-to-end attack surface is larger, more complex and more interconnected than ever before. As you can see, any legitimate activity (in blue), handled incorrectly, can lead to unauthorised access (yellow) and piracy (red). 

(It’s a lot to unpack – so feel free to check out this this webinar for an in-depth explanation of how this data piracy happens in this new landscape)

The challenge here is that as video has proliferated across the internet, so have the opportunities to steal and profit from it. Video providers face an ever-evolving omnidirectional threat from criminal organizations employing a full-time staff of their own video specialists.

The new piracy landscape can feel unknowable and insurmountable. But with the right countermeasures at your disposal, there’s a way to fight pirates – and win.


Intelligence-driven anti-piracy services 

Traditionally, video providers have fought the piracy problem with point solutions like fingerprinting, watermarking or ISP blocking. These tactics can still serve us – but alone they’re no longer enough.

Intelligence-first counter-piracy builds a continuous understanding of the new threats you face, and uses that insight to fight both the symptoms of piracy and the perpetrators themselves.

Intelligence-first counter-piracy relies on both human-based intelligence and technology-based intelligence. The brain that brings them together is EverGuard, from Synamedia. 

Synamedia EverGuard is an anti-piracy security operations center built with intelligence at its core. It functions as a managed anti-piracy service within your organization, dedicated to locating and disrupting the increasingly sophisticated, evolving piracy threats to your business.

Combining human intelligence from the best security specialists in the business with advanced cyber-intelligence, Synamedia EverGuard builds a complete picture of your video ecosystem. To tell you three things:

    1. Where and how video piracy is happening right now
    2. Where you’re vulnerable to video piracy in the future 
    3. What action to take to stop pirates and resolve vulnerabilities 

Armed with these insights, you can draw links between seemingly unrelated occurrences, identifying correlations and trends to proactively defend your content and prevent piracy at every turn.

Here’s what that looks like in action.


How Synamedia helped one of Asia’s biggest service providers reduce pirate subscription services by 73%

One of the biggest service providers in Asia – delivering pay TV to millions of subscribers – approached Synamedia for help understanding and reducing the threat posed by pirate subscription services. 

Combining advanced cyber-intelligence with environmental and behavioral data, our security team identified the top 22 illicit IPTV subscription services that were stealing content – and revenue – from our client.

We then used watermarking technology to identify the sources of the leaks and, over a six-month period, monitored their activity and disrupted their services intermittently.

During these disruptions, the pirates had to move their service onto a different architecture – so they were losing money. Their business model now unsustainable, the pirates either moved away or folded operations entirely. 

After six months, only nine pirate services remained – 59% fewer than the outset. 

Then our team gathered further intelligence, empowering legal action against another four. Three were successful – so overall Synamedia EverGuard helped our client reduce pirate subscriptions by 73%, closing a major source of lost revenue. 


How Synamedia helped a leading US service provider neutralize credential fraud 

A leading service provider in the US approached Synamedia to help neutralize credentials fraud.

Our cyber intelligence team identified 1000 credentials being sold over the dark web and bought them all. Then we worked with the service provider to find that 612 of the fraudulent accounts were still active, so we located their account IDs. 

Using machine learning algorithms, we then discovered another 1500 accounts with similar behavior – then identified those where an account takeover had happened and suspended the accounts immediately. We also identified fraudulent devices within each account and resecured the accounts by requesting a password reset from the account owner device. 

This intelligence-driven approach empowered our client to better understand – and then act on – credentials fraud that was devaluing their content and eating into their revenue. 


As the known universe of video threats expands, you need proactive, intelligence-based protection everywhere. 

We’re bringing an intelligence-based response to the evolving piracy threat for video providers all over the world.

Watch our on-demand webinar to learn how to navigate the modern video piracy landscape.


About the Author

James Clark is part of Synamedia’s Security Business Development team, responsible for communicating Synamedia’s security products and services to the market and identifying strategic opportunities to grow Synamedia’s customer base. Throughout his 12-year career in the digital TV sector, James has been involved with the ever-evolving challenge of secure video delivery. He combines a technical understanding of security technologies with extensive experience of working closely with businesses to fight video piracy. Prior to joining Synamedia in January 2019, James spent three years at Farncombe Consulting (now Cartesian), leading commercial activities for its security practice and working with content rights owners, security vendors and Pay-TV operators around the world to combat piracy. 

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