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Prescription: video encryption.

THE GROWING USE OF VIDEO TELE-conferences and taped videocassettes as a means of disseminating information has created a serious security need. While some o anizations eschew the use of audiovisual communications as being too wide open for confidential material, others continue to use such communications while looking for video encryption systems that can economically handle their security needs.

Video is usually distributed by either prerecorded tape or direct transmission (broadcast, satellite, UHF, etc.). A variety of encryption systems can secure transmitted video, but until recently none could protect 1/2-in. video cassettes and few offered truly portable encoders.

Many encryption systems include high-end performance features designed to address thousands of decoder units, provide billing, or encrypt data as well as video and audio. Such systems are very expensive, ranging from 100,000 up.

That cost has been enough to dissuade even the most interested security manager. However, the recently introduced "next generation" of video encryption systems can now provide security to the vast array of existing video applications affordably and flexibly.

Whatever their focus, organizations need good communication. Such departments as sales, finance, operations, marketing, and service must be able to share information, much of which is confidential. Product introductions, marketing strategies, pricing promotions, development program reviews, competitive information, sensitive training programs, and proprietary process control techniques are often communicated through video. In each case, the use of transmitted video or prerecorded videocassettes saves travel costs and personnel time.

Video encryption allows time-sensitive and confidential messages to be delivered without interception by unauthorized parties. in professional video production and postproduction, video encryption can be used to secure copyrighted video transmissions, master tapes, and prerecorded videocassettes. With portable encrypters, the copyright owner or producer can videotape rough cuts, encrypt the material, and then transmit it via commercial satellite or deliver the videotape by overnight air express to studio, administrative, or client locations. That process eliminates the need for expensive and time consuming person-to-person delivery.

During postproduction, master tapes can be encrypted and even time-stamped to prohibit viewing of the tape before and after predetermined dates. Such time stamping ensures that encrypted master tapes sent to other countries for distribution cannot be used as sources for counterfeit copies. Time stamping could also allow programs to be sent economically to television stations via satellite during off-hours.

In the television broadcast business, network and cable programmers can protect a variety of on-location program material such as sports broadcasts, concerts, and news feeds by using portable encryption systems. Remote video feeds transmitted back to network control centers are called backhauls. These backhauls are sent from mobile video vans across commercial microwave and satellite links. Backyard satellite dish owners, competing broadcasters, and independent TV stations can intercept those backhauls and receive pay-TV services for free or get a jump on fast-breaking news stories. With portable encrypters, programmers can ensure that no unauthorized viewers steal their backhaul feeds.

In prison systems, physically moving prisoners to court is expensive and sometimes dangerous. With the ability to encrypt video transmissions and videocassettes, video conferencing among prisoners, lawyers, district attorneys, and judges becomes a reality. Protected or secret witness programs can especially benefit from this added level of security. In addition, encrypting video depositions and arraignments can prevent their release to the public and the media before a trial, minimizing the risk of a mistrial.

For the military, encryption makes it possible to transmit video and still frame electronic photographs over public satellites, and videocassettes can be delivered by conventional mail, reducing costs without fear of interception by unauthorized viewers. Thus, sensitive information on such items as new weapons, transport vehicles, planes, electronics, and other equipment can be scrambled and delivered via tape, video conference, or military base cable TV systems and the like. 0 EVALUATE A VIDEO ENCRYPTION system, the potential user should first look at the requirements of the application. The following questions can help in the selection process:

Can the encryption system use commercial, nonsecure, public transmission media and accommodate standard North American TV video (NTSCI RS-170A)?

Obvious cost advantages result from being able to distribute encrypted video over a variety of transmission media such as microwave, satellite, fiber, or coaxial cable. The less restrictive the options, the easier it is to obtain economical transmission services.

Can the system encrypt both video transmissions and prerecorded videocassettes?

By providing distribution alternatives for confidential programs, the program supplier can spread out the capital cost of the encryption system and use the equipment more. For confidential material that does not need to be communicated live, encrypted, prerecorded tapes are an excellent option.

Users should look for systems that can encrypt any format of videotape, including 1 in., 3/4 in., VHS, Beta, 8 mm, and others. Field decoder units that can universally decode any format of videotape and accommodate consumer-grade VCRs offer the greatest affordability and flexibility in securing confidential video material.

Are the encoder units portable and affordable?

Encrypters that require permanent installations are not well suited to support on-location video productions. Small, multifunction codecs (combination encoder and decoder) can both scramble and descramble on-site. Some such units are the size of a consumer VCR and offer scrambling, descrambling, and addressing selections through built-in keypads and LED displays.

What level of operator control is available for the encoder units and the decoder units?

Field decoders should prevent unauthorized people from changing serial numbers or authorization access. Encoder units should be capable of establishing password control, authorizing time windows, selecting record-level or transmit-level concealment, and authorizing specific decoders. Operator controlled parameters should be selected to fit the encryption application.

How much training is required to use the encryption system?

Users should choose encoder and decoder units that are simple to operate. Even the most sophisticated and reliable decoders shouldn't require anything more than connecting video and video input and output, plugging in the power cord, turning the power switch on, and entering a password. Encoder units should be as simple to operate as consumer VCRS.

It is not uncommon for commercial video scrambling systems to become compromised. As many as 50 percent of all cable TV and satellite receiver/ decoders are counterfeit. A good encryption system should be virtually impenetrable to unauthorized parties and should have multiple levels of security. In addition to complex crypt users should look for systems that feature separate video and audio scrambling algorithms, a unique decoder ID, program passwords, a day/date window for timed viewing, and a tamper proof design.

For example, in Macrovision's VES-a 200 proprietary cryptographic key randomly alters active video on a line-by-line and frame-by-frame basis, resulting in a virtually infinite number of encryption combinations. Separate video and audio scrambling techniques further bar unauthorized use.

Each decoder has one of 32,756 unique factory-assigned ID numbers. The program originator specifies which units are authorized for any given program. Even if a decoder is authorized, a program password is required to unlock the encryption algorithm.

Each program is assigned a password, which is communicated by the program originator. A decoder unit must enter the appropriate password to descramble a program. Because passwords are not contained in the transmitted signal or encoded on the prerecorded cassette, they cannot be intercepted by unauthorized users. In addition, the decoder is programmed to lock up for one hour following three incorrect attempts at the password, eliminating the possibility of computerized break-ins.

With the day/date window, scrambled videocassettes or transmitted programs can be encoded with a start date and an end date detailing exactly when the program can be viewed. That arrangement is especially useful in new product announcements or when transmitting advertising or other broadcast programming prior to its authorized release. The tamperproof design includes physical concealment and embedded integrated circuits that prevent unauthorized parties from accessing serial numbers, software, or control information.

Encryption systems should be easy and affordable to install and operate, should be portable, and should provide multiple levels of security, recordability, and transmission, enabling security management to implement video security in ways previously not believed viable.
COPYRIGHT 1990 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:protecting sensitive material on video
Author:Krepick, William A.
Publication:Security Management
Date:May 1, 1990
Words:1335
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