You’ve created great content, or are planning to stream a live event. You only want certain people to see it and you’re wondering how to make sure no one else gets their hands on it.
You’re not alone.
Everyone from big name studios such as Warner Bros to individuals posting just for family wants to protect their intellectual property or ensure their privacy. Whatever your reason is, there are a few basic concepts you need to understand about secure streaming.
If you build it, they won’t come
If you’re an individual or a company with a small web presence, chances are your video (or audio) is probably safe no matter what. You have heard, or know first hand, how hard it is to get on page one of Google for things you want to be noticed for. Now imagine you post something online and don’t tell anyone about it except the people you want to see it. The odds are very good that no one else in the world will ever even know your video was posted, let alone ever see it. Just ask anyone whose tried to start an online business from obscurity. It is very hard to get noticed.
Once you understand this, you can ask yourself if you really need secure streaming at all.
Simple is best for most
If you determine you do need some security, then there are various options you can choose from. But the simplest, easiest, and most cost effective (in terms of security protocols) is password protection. You can use the HTTP protocol to provide password protection with the use of a .htaccess file. Alternatively you can set up a simple admin system with users to be authenticated by some other means. You can setup a membership system using WordPress and plugins that restrict content to only approved users. Or if you already have some system in place for your users, you can often put the player for the video behind your existing system.
In our experience this works in the majority of situations.
When you need to be more discriminating
Sometimes you’ll decide you still need more than password protection. This is often the case when you’re trying to monetize your content, or when it contains vital information that would compromise your company or organisation should it fall into the wrong hands. In these cases it may be worth investigating Token Authentication (Token Auth, or TA).
By using Token Auth, you have nearly complete control over your content. You can restrict who can play the video by IP, geography, and set time limited tokens that expire so your content can’t be accessed at a later time. You can also set it up so your video can only be played from your website and not stolen to be played elsewhere.
We’ve found that these three options really solve most situations. Of course, there are other combinations with closed networks, ports, and other protocols that can be used (and we support them). Do you have any questions about secure streaming? Post them in the comments and we’ll be happy to answer.