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Protecting Digital IP: Pentesting for Streaming Services

Brandon Torio
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Larger Customer Bases, Larger Targets

According to, streaming services have been adopted by more than double the customer base of traditional cable TV. Growing number of consumers are “cutting the cord” with cable and embracing streaming services and more media is now made available exclusively on-demand. With this shift, streaming services are now a more attractive target for hackers. 

There are many reasons why hackers would want to go after a streaming service’s attack surface, such as protecting customer data, and hence, many reasons to proactively pentest. Here are few of the top reasons to consider:

1. Protecting IP Against Piracy

Streaming services pay millions to purchase exclusive rights to legacy media and produce new content to keep existing subscribers and entice new ones. Pirates can use exploitable vulnerabilities as one method to access this media without paying. As a starting point, they could use a broken access control vulnerability (a common finding in 2022) to access content without a valid login, leading to the download and distribution of gated material.

2. Preventing Material From Leaking Ahead of Announcements

In addition to movies and TV shows having the potential to be leaked, information about future projects is also at risk. By attacking a streaming platform, bad actors may be able to gain access to the name of a future project, a trailer or even a script ahead of official release. This could happen by simply maneuvering through a server after gaining a foothold through any number of possible access vulnerabilities.

3. Protecting Brand Reputation

A breach can lead to wide press that damages customer trust in the brand. With subscription models that charge customers yearly or monthly, customers expect these subscription services to be digitally hardened to protect their payment information. The loss in customer trust and damage to brand reputation can be amplified when content itself is leaked. While some breaches may seem abstract in terms of real risk to the general public, leaking of content that is supposed to be paid for is a clear failure on behalf of the brand.  

4. Protecting Customer Information

With streaming services, customer data is rich, and therefore all the more attractive to adversaries. The right vulnerability may enable access to customer addresses, family member names, media preferences and more. Leaked customer information could open an organization up to litigation and potentially hefty fines.

5. Discover Vulnerabilities Before They Can Be Exploited

Defensive approaches, like Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) vendors can help detect intrusions and bad actors in real time. However, pentesting takes risk reduction to the next level by proactively looking for vulnerabilities before they are exploited.

How Streaming Services Can Best Harden Their Attack Surfaces with Pentesting

Finding vulnerabilities and patching them before they can be exploited by threat actors is the most proactive action streaming services can take to protect IP, brand reputation and customer information.

A quality pentesting program includes the following elements:

  • Diverse perspectives from a variety of researchers
  • Incentive-driven hacking, where researchers are rewarded for their findings
  • Rich information on the type of testing being performed
  • Minimal noise, vulnerability findings that are actually exploitable by attackers
  • Continuous testing to check for new vulnerabilities that may emerge as updates are sent out

The Synack Platform harnesses these elements to deliver strategic continuous pentesting that finds the vulnerabilities that matter, and dives into their root causes to improve security posture over time. To get started, reach out here.