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HiSilicon Technologies Co., Ltd. on TEE and Premium Content Protection

Andrew Dellow, Security Architect at HiSilicon Technologies Co., Ltd. discusses the security and flexibility offered by the Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) for premium content protection, citing a real-world example of how it is deployed in the marketplace today.       

Can you tell us a little bit about HiSilicon and how you participate in the premium content protection space?

HiSilicon, a subsidiary of Huawei, is a leading chipset solution provider for telecom networks, wireless terminals and digital media. With more than 200 million set top box devices deployed by more than 100 operators across over 50 countries, working closely with leading Pay TV, DRM and forensic watermarking companies, HiSilicon is playing a leading role in secure delivery of premium content.

How has premium content protection evolved in recent years?

The major paradigm shift came with the introduction of Ultra High Definition (UltraHD). This saw a move away from pure service protection towards content protection and the secure media path. The old assumption that a secure pipe into the home was all that was required is no longer good enough. The ease with which content can be shared, either casually, or maliciously, for profit, means it is now essential to protect content delivery all the way to the point of consumption. Additionally, the level of robustness required has been increasing year on year, thanks to ever more sophisticated threats. All this has happened at the same time to facilitate consumers’ expectations: ‘any content - any device’. 

What challenges do you see in the content protection / DRM marketplace and how is your organization working to overcome them?

There are many challenges as the evolution of content protection has introduced competing requirements.  The consumer expectation that I spoke about effectively means that content protection requirements are relevant to anything with a display.  New business models and delivery services mean a more flexible, updatable solution is required.  And, the pirates are becoming ever more sophisticated.  Our challenge is how to square the circle and offer secure yet flexible platforms for our security partners.

What are the characteristics of the TEE that make it so valuable to DRM implementations?

This need for both for flexibility and security can be met with a TEE. While flexibility requirements can be met with advanced processors, such solutions have traditionally relied heavily on renewability to provide security. This leads to the classic arms race of attack-patch- attack. The TEE offers a safer place, where the secure code is better protected and isolated, and therefore needs to be updated much less often.

How is HiSilicon applying GlobalPlatform technology today in the marketplace?

One good example of using GlobalPlatform technology is in support of ChinaDRM, which is the emerging standard for premium content delivery and protection in China. In order to accelerate the porting of content we used GlobalPlatform TEE APIs, as they were already implemented and stable on all our platforms. This reduced our time to market and improved portability across our existing products.

What are your predictions for the DRM market over the next five years?

From a security perspective, I believe DRM will follow a similar path to traditional conditional access. Put simply the security requirements will increase, resulting in the need for greater functionality in the TEE – necessary to keep the ‘trusted’ in the name meaningful.   It will be interesting to see if DRM or DRM-like systems extend into the connected home space – managing access and control robustly requires many of the same key technologies as content protection.

For more information on the work of the Premium Content Task Force, click here.