IP Security For Broadcasters - The Book

This free 82-page eBook is your definitive guide to IP security for broadcasters. Written by our Editor Tony Orme, it gathers 12 original independent articles that examine the complex issues of security, explain the terminology and IT standards involved, and explore techniques available to help broadcasters secure their IP infrastructure. This book is vital reading – download your free copy now.

Preface To IP Security For Broadcasters

When broadcasters relied entirely on SDI networks they knew if a hacker was attempting to break into their network as they had a pair of wire cutters in their hand. As we move more to IP networks for signal distribution, control, and monitoring, we must be much more diligent when considering the safety of IP networks as a potential hacker could be attacking from anywhere in the world.

Good network security is not only a technical discipline but also takes into consideration the psychology of those designing, maintaining, and using the system. Security is everybody’s concern and leaving it to others is not the answer. Although we must all make sure our passwords are secure and nobody has access to our login credentials, imposing draconian policies on users that force them to regularly reset their passwords leads, ironically, to poorer security. Users are renowned for taking short cuts and expecting them to remember complex passwords only leads to frustration and compromised security.

Understanding why security is so important and the problem we’re trying to solve is critical to developing secure infrastructures to protect high value media assets. And determining a hacker’s motives and objectives helps us get some way into the mind of the hacker so that we can better predict the areas of vulnerability and unwelcomed access.

We may well have come across technology such as IPSec, VPN and 2FA authentication, but to build reliable security into broadcast infrastructures the vulnerabilities and weaknesses of these systems must be fully appreciated. A VPN is only as secure as the private key storage leading us to pay even greater attention to how we maintain our own security practices. This opens questions about operational protocol such as who has access to the private keys? And who authorizes changing of master passwords? In the same way a company provides an authorization process for signing accounts payments, then similar practices should be followed for the storage and updates of master passwords and private keys.

Users may often express a sigh of frustration when operating systems need to be upgraded, regularly finding some applications need reinstalling or have ceased to work completely. However, operating systems have the potential to expose many vulnerabilities and maintaining reliable upgrade policies is an absolute must for any enterprise broadcast infrastructure.

Secure infrastructures must strike a fine balance between ease of operation for users and keeping hackers out. But security is not just about vulnerabilities, it also encapsulates maintaining the validity of stored data. This is particularly noticeable if a user was to delete a high value media asset or important control configuration file. Backup policies must be in place to restore these files or even recover historically correct files should the worse happen and a file becomes embedded with a virus. Just overwriting a file with its new version will stop a virus infected file from being recovered, so the alternative is to make incremental backups, however, creating too many copies of the same file will see the storage system increase exponentially.

Backup strategies are difficult to agree and may even require a multitude of policies depending on the type of data stored. Constantly duplicating large media files not only places great demands on storage, but additional servers are needed to run the backup software leading to more pressure on the infrastructure and network.

IP is providing broadcasters with unprecedented opportunities in terms of scalability, flexibility, and resilience. And combined with COTS infrastructures, IP is the biggest single technological development in the history of television. However, as broadcasters take advantage of this new technology, they must also be aware of, and find remedies to, the potential security challenges of the future, many of which are known to the wider IT community.

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