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Orange 4K drive prompts Viaccess-Orca, Rambus security tie up

French-Israeli OTT technology outfit Viaccess-Orca has increased focus on its Viaccess security roots by partnering with an expert in hardware root of trust technologies, Rambus, to provide pay TV operators with a system for securing OTT, IPTV and broadcast services – enabling customers to upgrade set top security by adding hardware-dedicated algorithms inside the chipset after deployment.

Rambus is bringing its CryptoMedia Content Protection Core, previously called Cryptographic Firewall, to the VO Shield product, targeted specifically at protecting premium content including 4K. We are usually quick to presume that most moves made by Viaccess-Orca are influenced by its parent company Orange, and the same may be true this week as Orange is quickly expanding its 4K Livebox deployments beyond France, most recently to Spain and potentially soon across the rest of its footprint in Europe, while the Middle East and Africa could be some way off.

However, a spokesperson from Viaccess-Orca told us that Orange France will not be the first to receive this joint deployment, instead it will be at an operator in an “emerging country” for a non-4K deployment, despite the press release citing 4K as being at the core of the partnership. This could be in any of the 21 countries where Orange operates in the MENA region, or at a different Viaccess-Orca or Rambus customer, or an entirely new design win. The Viaccess-Orca representative suggested that the partnership with Rambus has nothing to do with the Orange Livebox, although we see no reason why it would not deploy the joint system after it earns its stripes in less developed regions where piracy and set top hacking is more prevalent.

The emergence of 4K content and subsequent creation of the MovieLabs Enhanced Content Protection (ECP) and Vidity specifications has meant operators need to meet stringent requirements as every device has to have a hardware root of trust. This has caused difficulties for almost every player in the OTT industry, with the exception of Apple, Google and Microsoft, when security in the OTT market is homogenized around browsers.

The CryptoMedia product from Rambus, with an independent security core, is one way to overcome these hurdles, and there are cases of operators using this and partnering it with multiple DRMs for key management, not just one DRM, such as at Dish India. Before being taken over by California-based Rambus, Cryptography Research was the first company to convince Broadcom to place a secure hardware root of trust onto Broadcom chips, just like those which power the current Orange Livebox. This meant that Cryptography Research was able to open up a hard root of trust for 3rd party DRMs.

VO Shield comprises the security technology Viaccess-Orca Secure Environment (VSE) using a Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) and security co-processors, while CryptoMedia is a separate security element on the chipset which protects and stores cryptographic keys and computations from attacks. A few years ago it was marketed as requiring around 250,000 logic gates, which is quite a hefty chunk of the silicon.

“The Rambus core is extremely resistant to a wide range of sophisticated attacks, including side-channel attacks, while providing the flexibility to integrate with Viaccess-Orca CAS or DRM solutions,” said the announcement.

As well as using conditional access security from Viaccess-Orca, additional security at Orange in France is covered by a multi-DRM platform from Inside Secure, which has tied up a partnership deal with Rambus, as has another DRM player Verimatrix. A Viaccess-Orca representative told us that there is no involvement from these DRM firms in the collaboration between Viaccess-Orca and Rambus.

It was January 2016 when Cryptography Research announced its own CryptoMedia security platform to protect 4K UHD and HDR programming, including a secure key derivation core, a player agent for secure acquisition and playback and trusted key provisioning services.

Rambus Security Division’s SVP and GM Bret Sewell said, “This collaboration will be a cutting-edge response to the compromises that exist in hardware devices used to watch pay TV services. By adding our CryptoMedia Content Security Platform and Protection Core to its VO Shield solution, Viaccess-Orca will set a new standard for content security.”

Cédric Hardouin, EVP of R&D at Viaccess-Orca, said, “We have been investigating several tracks in the silicon domain to strengthen our security offering, and Rambus provides best-in-class technology to protect against hardware compromises. With CryptoMedia Content Protection Core already available in the chipsets of main silicon vendors, and roll-outs with Tier 1 operators expected to take place before the end of this year, Rambus offers a proven approach that greatly benefits our customers as they look to provide a superior and more secure content experience.”

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