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AES Video Encryption: Securing Your Digital Video Content

AES Video Encryption

The global video streaming market is expected to be worth $184.27 billion by 2027. Technological advancements, including the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance video quality, are set to increase the demand for online video content in upcoming years. Additionally, the fact that publishers use social media platforms to increase the reach of their content is influencing the market growth.

The rise of the industry is happening at the time when internet users and brands are turning towards virtual events, remote work, and distance learning. In this environment, video plays a leading role.

As the market is expanding, there is one issue on everyone’s mind: cybersecurity threats. Most industries are riddled with hacking, piracy, and digital attacks, and the online video market is no exception.

Ad fraud is affecting the online advertising industry, costing publishers millions of dollars. Find out more about it here.

However, these threats can be minimized with the help of video security solutions. AES video encryption, in particular, is valuable for brands that want to protect their content on the internet. 

But what is AES video encryption? We will discuss this, how it works, and more in our article!

What Is AES Video Encryption?

Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is a symmetric block cipher used for encrypting and decrypting sensitive data throughout the world. This algorithm type has proven to be valuable for various industries, including online video streaming.

Whenever publishers deliver audio and video media across the internet they utilize transfer protocols such as HTTP, FTP, or SFTP.  To ensure secure streaming, some of them rely on AES video encryption.  This protects data and guarantees that only intended parties will be able to watch and access video content.

When AES encrypts a video, it produces a special key. Authorized video players decode this key in browsers where the stream is delivered with the help of secure transfer protocols. These players rely on symmetric-key algorithms to decrypt ciphertext and provide meaningful content.

The entire process is completely transparent. Internet users need to gain access to the video, either by logging in to their accounts or accessing a website. After this AES video encryption comes into play, enabling those users to securely watch online video content.

But why was AES developed in the first place?

Why Was AES Video Encryption Developed?

As you know, video encryption is the process that hides videos from unintended audiences. AES is one way to achieve this. But how did AES come to be?

Previously, the go-to encryption method was Data Encryption Standard (DES), developed by IBM. Even the US government used it to secure sensitive information. DES was considered to be uncrackable for years, but technological advancements proved that it was possible to break the 56-bit encryption algorithm.

In 1997, the DESCHALL Project publicly broke a message encrypted with DES. This meant that a successor to DES was greatly needed.

The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology launched a competition, encouraging participants to develop a process that would protect data then and in the future. They chose the project “Rijndael” as the standard for AES encryption, replacing DES.

Today, AES video encryption is widely used to safeguard online video content.

How does AES Video Encryption Work?

To protect digital assets, AES needs to use secret keys when it goes through the encryption and decryption processes. It supports three different key lengths:

Encryption strength is often assessed based on the size of the keys used for the encryption process. Basically, the longer the key, the stronger the encryption. This means that AES-128 is the least strong, while AES-256 is the strongest.

So, AES takes one of these keys and some data (i.e. plaintext) as an input. Then, it scrambles this information into something unreadable, i.e. ciphertext. This can either be written content or a video asset or anything else.

Regardless of the asset, the ciphertext will contain some form of the original plaintext, but computers cannot read it unless they use the proper cipher to decrypt it. So, to get something meaningful, computers need AES video encryption and the key used to produce that plaintext.

In terms of online videos, the content is encrypted in such a way that authorized players need to decode it in order to gain access and stream those videos. Symmetric-key algorithms make this possible. They use the same cryptographic keys for the plaintext encryption and ciphertext decryption.

After going through this process, video players are able to stream selected videos to viewers. And this is how AES video encryption protects your assets!

AES-256 vs. AES-128

You’re probably wondering which AES key type is the best to use when encrypting video assets. Naturally, the larger keys would be harder to crack during a cyberattack. However, some believe that AES-128 is already difficult enough to compromise.

So, AES-128 should suffice if you want to secure your video assets. However, if you are sending particularly sensitive data over the internet, you can opt for AES-256. It would take much longer to crack this key. But we won’t make a case for either of these keys because both of them are complex enough to avoid getting compromised easily.

However, we will say that the National Security Agency (NSA) stopped recommending the use of AES-128 bit keys for classified information in 2015. This was enough for some in the industry to conclude that AES-256 bit key would be a much safer choice.

Regardless, both 128-bit and 256-bit are used in the industry today.

Who Needs AES Video Encryption?

AES video encryption is extremely useful and valuable for those brands and publishers who want to keep their video content private. If you want to secure your videos and ensure they cannot be viewed or stolen, then AES video encryption is the right solution for you.

Some publishers post videos that the audience can access only if they subscribe or pay to watch. This is when it’s crucial that they encrypt their videos so that they are available only for the intended people.

Although AES video encryption is suitable for anyone, here are businesses and industries that would particularly benefit from this protection:

  • Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs)
  • Government organizations
  • Education and online learning
  • OTT, e.g. Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Now

Especially during the pandemic, educational institutions have had to rely on videos to ensure their students could continue learning. Most of them have published original video content that they need to protect from piracy. AES video encryption is crucial for them. Additionally, OTT media services need this security measure to safeguard their digital assets. The same is true for corporations and governments that need to prevent data leaks.

The number of cord-cutters is increasing every year. Most people are now switching from cable TV to streaming services. This is where OTT services come into play.

Benefits of Encrypting Videos

AES video encryption is especially beneficial for businesses as it prevents man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks. This cyberattack is capable of intercepting relevant messages passing between two parties, thus stealing sensitive data.

It’s no secret that using public networks can be dangerous because they are susceptible to MITM attacks. For instance, if you access your bank account at your local shop, you might have exposed your information to a hacker. But AES encryption minimizes the threat of these attacks.

When it comes to the online video industry, many companies operate using a subscription business model. This means that customers need to pay a set price to access their content. These companies have millions of accounts stored in their system and they need to protect them at all costs.

Akamai discovered that credential theft in the online video industry has become a major issue. According to them, millions of accounts are compromised every year.

But AES video encryption enables you to secure your customers’ information and prevent these attacks from happening. Hackers who try to mess with your system and streams won’t get far because of the AES encryption. As a result, you will protect your business from piracy, data theft, and more!

This is an enormous benefit of AES video encryption.

Did you know that piracy costs the US economy $20.5 billion every year? This amount, however, is even bigger internationally.

Closing Thoughts

Now that you’re familiar with AES video encryption, we hope you’ve realized it’s crucial you use it (or any other encryption type) to protect your content from cyberattacks! As technology advances, it will become easier for hackers to compromise your files if you do not use encryption. Be one step ahead of them and protect your video content!

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