Farncombe Launches Pay-TV Security Validation Programme

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

BASINGSTOKE, England — Farncombe Consulting Group, the privately-owned European TV services consultancy, has launched a security validation programme designed to facilitate new conditional access (CA) and DRM products reaching the market. At the same time the process makes it easier for an operator or content provider to select or confirm the use of a new system.

The two-step programme involves first filling in a self-administered questionnaire to gauge compliance with certain objective minimum security requirements (MSRs) – which if satisfactorily completed then opens the door to a comprehensive review and validation process.

“At the moment, CA and DRM system vendors with untested security systems will often be asked to pay for a full audit – without any idea whether they are likely to pass or not,” points out Andrew Glasspool, Farncombe co-founder and the partner leading the development of the new programme. “Using our custom pre-review process, they can now obtain an accurate picture of whether their new product is ready for an assessment. When they’ve completed that first step, they can then proceed to a full review.”

If a CA system fails to comply with the Farncombe MSRs, the vendor receives a full report explaining which measures it failed on and which aspects need to be rectified before it can be re-submitted or taken to a full review at a later date.

Andrew argues that this should benefit all the main industry players. “They get to identify the up-and-coming products and create a security road-map for their businesses going forward; while the vendors can call on an independent and respected expert opinion to show that they are in a position to support the requirements of both operators and content-providers.”

US studio HBO acknowledged the benefit of having a third-party security auditor provide a summary review of security system details. “Validation of expectations (or expected performance) of security systems by expert organizations is essential for content companies to have comfort with systems used to securely distribute our valuable content,” it said.

Dr Abe Peled, Chairman and CEO of NDS Group, a leading content security company, said, “NDS welcomes this initiative by Farncombe, a well-known industry expert, which will help the use of adequate security systems by operators.”

Nagravision – another top firm in the security field – said: “Nagravision has known and worked alongside Farncombe for 10 years in the field of pay-TV security. Their independence and expertise in the area of conditional access and DRM technology is trusted by operators and content security vendors alike. Nagravision can unhesitatingly recommend them as leading experts in the content security field.”

The documentation required to apply for the security validation programme and to be assessed by Farncombe’s content security practice can be obtained from Farncombe on application. A number of security technology companies have already applied and been assessed.