The Future of Streaming: A Security Perspective

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The Future of Streaming: A Security Perspective

Streaming is now ubiquitous across the entertainment industry. But as the Internet becomes ever more interconnected, and especially as the Internet of Things becomes more vulnerable to hacking, specific cybersecurity strategies need to be taken to ensure user privacy and credential security in the face of growing digital crime. Streaming services, if not properly protected, may end up being a liability more than a luxury.

The Streaming Security Problem

Just like everyone is starting a blog, everyone is also jumping on the streaming service train.

Practically everyone already enjoys streaming their favorite TV shows straight to their screen and binging a new season as soon as it airs. In fact, most of us use multiple streaming or “over-the-top” (OTT) services and are subscribed to several of them. This necessitates them having our credit card information and other personal details.

But so what? Those details are protected by a password and strong encryption, you might think. The only trouble is that many of us use one or a few passwords across most or all of our OTT platforms like Amazon or Netflix. We’re always trying to get over common Netflix issues and make it as easy as possible to stream ASAP. While this isn’t a problem in and of itself, it does represent a significant security problem.

Criminal fraudsters are known to commonly target entertainment streaming services by hacking into the personal information of their customers and selling that data across criminal marketplaces. Many of these hackers will use automated tools to discover or steal login information, then attempt to use that information across multiple OTT services or accounts. Before you or anyone knows it, a single attack could result in all of your personal information being stolen right out from under your nose.

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Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Once your personal information is on the web, it can be used by anyone who pays for it. This is how people somehow rack up thousands of dollars in credit card debt despite never purchasing things across the country. Your data can also be used to falsify the records of those in need of fake identification, along with 100 other possible criminal acts.

In short, having your credentials stolen from your streaming service can be a big deal, and many of us make it easier for those attempting to do just that.

Current Threats and Future Issues

At the moment, many hackers take advantage of the fact that a multitude of streaming service customers use a few main passwords for all of their information on the Web. This is a huge issue and one that can only be countered by people at large taking up the habit of creating unique passwords for all of their accounts and streaming services.

In addition, the majority of “credential stuffing” attacks (those which use stolen credentials to get into accounts) are actually carried out by all-in-one (AIO) or Botnet attacks. This makes hackers even harder to detect than before, too.

In a nutshell, Botnets are collections of automated accounts or computers that are partially or fully used to perform specific and usually simple tasks. When combined with AIO applications, hackers can automate their behavior, using them to scoop personal credentials and information and gain access to accounts at rapid-fire speeds. This is a form of rudimentary AI.

In fact, bots in general are becoming a huge problem across digital industries or anyone who conducts business on the Internet. They are becoming harder to distinguish from regular human behavior as the AI that runs them becomes more sophisticated and are able to simulate human activity with much more stealth. What’s more, major cloud storage providers like Google, Amazon, and Dropbox are trying to fight AI with AI, using AI security detection software to find and protect customer data against bot attacks.

Bots are becoming so sophisticated that they can even simulate human text on social media platforms, which is causing a ruckus when it comes to political elections across the world. As a result, old-fashioned styles of confirmation of identity are no longer guaranteed to be valid. When a bot can learn about the habits of a target individual and effectively hijack their information, new security solutions must be implemented.

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Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Possible Solutions

So what are those new security solutions?

There are several measures that people can take right now and in the future to increase the security of streaming services and prevent the proliferation of credential stuffing attacks. As an example, refusing to share your passwords with others is an excellent first step that everyone can undertake right this minute. In fact, don’t give away any secret information, like secret answers.

You should also get into the habit of creating unique passwords for each of your accounts, even if it requires that you write them down or keep them in a note file for easy reference. These passwords should be more unique than just variations on a single core password theme; using random combinations of letters and numbers is an excellent form of rudimentary security.

Be sure to learn to pay attention to scams or phishing emails, too, which can be used to surreptitiously scoop sensitive information from you under the guise of a regular email. It might be worth learning if you have spam and phishing folding and how it works.

More streaming services may also need to use multifactor authentication to protect against bot login. Multi-Factor authentication requires that users confirm their identity over to platforms before being allowed into their accounts. This is a little tedious for many, but it’s still beyond the abilities of bots or other types of AI used by hackers (although it may not be forever). 

Other platforms may need to come up with unique micro-challenges within JavaScript, which can come up with tasks for you to complete that can’t be performed via repetition by a bot. Another potential security path forward focuses on “device fingerprinting”, which takes your device’s physical attributes like your screen size to determine whether the account login attempt is genuine or being attempted by a bot.

Finally, streaming services can also use detection systems that are based on biometric human behavior. A good example is the random mouse movements that usually accompany human activity on a computer. Bots do not do this very well, so many streaming services may utilize recognition of truly “random” human motions to discern whether a login attempt is being made from a person or some lines of code.

Final Thoughts

Overall, there are multiple ways that streaming services can bulk up their security and help their users keep their credentials safe from nefarious hackers. But as automation rises and cyber-attacks become more sophisticated, it remains to be seen whether streaming will remain as ubiquitous as users become aware of threats to their personal information.

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