Streaming security with SRT and AES

SRT with AES: Keeping Broadcast Contribution Streams Secure

Security is at the top of mind for many people, especially broadcasters. As online piracy, and unauthorized access are on the rise, broadcasters are looking to protect their content throughout its journey, from their video contribution feeds to their distribution channels. Video streaming for contribution workflows presents several advantages, including cost and reach, but as with any newer technology, some broadcasters are hesitant, and may have questions about security.

What kind of security options are available for video streaming contribution feeds? Certain streaming protocols, like RTMP, can leave your first-mile broadcast streams accessible by anyone, and therefore, vulnerable. But if you’re using a video encoder that supports SRT (Secure Reliable Transport), then you know that your streams are safe from the start of their journey. That’s because SRT includes the option of AES video encryption to keep your streams safe.

Let’s explore AES, and how it keeps your information and video content safe.

What is AES Video Encryption?

AES stands for Advanced Encryption Standard. As its name suggests, it is an encryption standard – it encrypts information, rendering it unreadable without the appropriate key.

AES is also a symmetric key encryption – this means that the same key used to encrypt the information is the same key used to decrypt the information.

The most common iterations of AES are AES 128-bit or AES 256-bit.

How does AES work to keep your streams safe?

Simply put, if you don’t have the key, you are not going to understand the information. Even if someone is using a packet sniffer, or successfully intercepts your information, they’re not going to be able to read it. The sheer complexity of the keys make brute force attacks, even from today’s fastest supercomputers, a prohibitively lengthy process, in the quadrillions of years. And that’s simply for 128-bit encryption – the evolution of AES to 256-bit encryption makes a brute force attack exponentially more complex.

As a result, AES is trusted by government organizations in order to keep classified information secure. Financial institutions, major corporations, and even certain military intelligence agencies rely on AES encryption to keep their streams safe. Given AES’s proven record of reliability and security, it was a logical choice for the SRT development team to ensure that the video streaming protocol enabled AES video encryption.

AES as part of a larger security strategy in SRT

AES encryption is an important feature that helps to keep SRT streams secure, but it is only one part of a larger security strategy. SRT also ensures that firewall traversal is easy by using a caller/listener handshake concept. This allows for the passage of real-time video streams within secured networks . You can read more about this in our previous blog post on firewall traversal.

Another important security aspect of SRT are its output listener statistics. This feature allows you to monitor who is “calling into” (accessing) your stream, as they are accessing it. This serves a dual role. You can ensure that you are not crowding your stream with too many callers watching at once, while simultaneously monitoring that only those authorized to access your stream are watching.

In terms of security, SRT certainly comes out ahead of RTMP, but, in spite of its importance, security isn’t the only aspect of sending video streams over the internet. Fortunately, we ran thorough tests between RTMP and SRT to see which streaming protocol was better for sending video streams over the internet. Download our white paper, RTMP vs SRT, to see the results.

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