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Amazon plugs video leak flaw

Adobe handkerchief solves streaming snafu

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Amazon has plugged a potentially revenue-draining flaw in its video streaming service by incorporating content encryption.

Previously, elements of the service - powered by streaming media server technology from Adobe - relied on video player instructions to control how content was delivered.

That left a loophole.

Tests by Reuters showed that by using video caching software, specifically Replay Media Catcher software from Applian Technologies, punters would have been able to get copies of films and TV shows without having to pay.

The problem with the service, from Amazon's point of view, stemmed with the fact that the full content of movies and TV shows was streamed to users before they actually payed as part of an architecture that emphasised usability and convenience for paying punters over security. The idea was paytards would not be faced with interruptions to their viewing once they paid - even though it's hard to imagine how the process of flashing the plastic wouldn't involve some interruption.

Adobe confirmed that Amazon solved the problem with its Video On Demand service by adding encryption, specifically the RTMPE protocol, supported by the latest version of its Flash media server software. Previously Amazon streamed both encrypted and unencrypted video to users but it has now switched over the encrypted feeds, Reuters reports. Amazon declined to speak to the news agency about its security practices.

Tests by Reuters suggests that other online media firms might be vulnerable to much the same class of problem. Adobe said it advised clients about the potential piracy issues posed by weakly controlled unencrypted streams in an advisory it published on 2 September. Its advisory can be found here. ®

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