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India's Leading Source for Broadcasting & Broadband Information - CableQuest Magazine
HomeArticlesCAS and Content SecurityChoosing the right CAS partner
Saturday, 18 May 2013 08:59

Choosing the right CAS partner

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It is important for an operator, upgrading from analogue to digital (DAS) to choose a solution that is compliant with the TRAI regulations and other official requirements, now and in the future. It is also important for the operator to choose a supplier that takes a long term responsibility for the products, giving the operator necessary support and upgrade of functionality in the future. Likewise it is important to choose a solution that is based on existing open standards to avoid hidden expenses related to expensive third party solutions. This is very important due to changes in the regulations over the time. This is particularly important when choosing the CAS-partner.

Getting premium content

Cryptoguard is a hi-technology Swedish company delivering a turnkey solution for TV operators. Their CA system handles all type of platforms, such as DVBS, DVBT, DVBC and IPTV. The CA system is based on open standards making the system easy to adapt to external systems. The CAS uses standard Simulcrypt which is supported by all major Head-End equipment and STBs. All new and important security features are supported in this system. Features like chipset pairing, fingerprinting and watermarking is supported and new security features are quickly implemented after customer needs. The company is in regular contact with the major content providers to make sure that their demand for content security is fulfilled. Together with the CA System, Cryptoguard also delivers a complete integrate Subscriber Management System, which can be used if the customer wants. The complete system is possible to adapt to existing customer solutions through the well documented APIs.

Another advantage that the operators have noticed when they choose Cryptoguard is that it is easy to install and deploy the system. Even for small operators, the entry cost is very low without compromising any security features. There are no hidden costs like the ones that operators have noticed with other systems. Despite its low entry cost, the system is well-suited for medium-sized and large operators also. The design of the system makes it easy to scale a running solution. In this way, Cryptoguard grows together with the operator.


Up till now most networks are analogue and nearly none have protection against content theft.  This is simply manifested in that each network has its regular paying customers, but a large number of non paying households simply buy an analogue STB and illegally connect to the network to receive the signals. As it is simply a matter of branching of the signal it is regrettably common place. It’s estimated thatthere are as many people that steal the signals as there is paying customers.So by moving to digital  and CAS it would mean a lot of potential new customers as the people stealing the signals will end up with blank screens. 


Digital signals can also be stolen if the signals are transmitted – distributed in the clear. Simply a free to air digital STB can connect illegally to the network and tap into the unprotected signal.  The great advantage that now opens up for the cable industry in India is that by incorporating a CAS (encryption) system in the digital headend the operators can:

1.Protect their own revenue stream by preventing theft of their signals.

2.Legally comply with the requirement of content provider by protecting the program content.

So whilst the investment needed by the industry is great it would appear to be foolish not to implement a CAS system at the same time to protect your investment. Cryptoguard’s CAS system also provides the SMS (Subscriber Management System) integrated with the CAS system to give a total control over the encryption and customer management and making a seamless control and protection of the investment and revue stream.


Whilst the main investment for the industry lies in the Headend, STB and to lesser degree interconnection and cables/fibres and amplifiers/optical node,s adding a cost effective CAS brings additional benefits. 

CAS was originally encryption added by logarithms in the STB and headend. As theft and piracy more or less started at the same time as CAS was introduced, the system had to be more robust and sophisticated to keep a step head of the pirates. Hence the move to CAM (Conditional Access Module) and CARDS, commonly referred to as CAS. Later CAM embedded in the STB reducing the cost and simply a card slot is provided for the CARD. The advantage with a CARD based system is that in the rare event of being hacked, the operator can simply issue a new CARD to stop the theft of its signals, so whilst this is slightly more expensive it leads to a more future proof system. There are a number of providers of CAS solutions, like CONAX, CRYPTOGUARD, IRDETO, NDS and all have different solutions to protect the content.


Encryption is an access control system for digital TV. It enables you as a cable TV operator to have full control over which TV programs your customer can watch. The digital TV signal is encrypted for “conditional access”, which means that you decide the conditions for access to TV channels.Many content providers also require that their TV programs are encrypted -scrambled.

The customers must have a CARD in their set-top box to enable them to watch encrypted TV programs.


To protect the content, the CAS systems sophisticated logarithms are generating “secret” keys which are digitally added to the digital signal. The STB with built in CAS has to decrypt these keys in real time to enable the customer to view the content with a valid CARD. The operator can select different levels of encryption in that some channels are encrypted and some are transmitted unencrypted, like public broadcast channels. Some channels can be “pay per view” like specific cricket games or movies to bring extra income to the broadcaster. Cryptoguards CAS system makes such implantation extremely easy and cost effective as it also contains the SMS part given total control over the customers access rights.

The terms ECM and EMM are names of standardized data packages that come with digital TV programs. A “secret key” is created in the generator for control words, which is used to code sound and images for the TV programs to be protected.

ECM is the data package that contains the “secret key”. Since the key is changed every 10th second, it is very difficult for an unauthorized viewer to discover it.

EMM is the data package that ensures your customers’ Smartcards are updated. This takes place so rapidly that the customer does not need to wait to get a TV image. If for whatever reason you need to close down a customer’s subscription, this can be done immediately.


In addition to make the content even more secure, it’s possible to “pair” the CARD with the STB preventing multi use or theft of the CARD. This means the CARD only works on a specific STB and can’t be shared or used in another STB.


Since there is no mandatory legislation over CAS and interoperability between providers in India, there will be a lot of different solutions. However it would be foolish not to implement “protection of content”, whilst the operators are switching over to digital.  For the relative small additional cost (in the overall investment), the benefits are far greater than the investment. These benefits are prevention of theft e.g. piracy. Making sure all customers are paying for all the channels, bouquets they are entitled to. Selling and managing additional service programs (if built in SMS) creating greater scope for more revenue. Forcing current illegal viewers to become legal and paying for the service, potentially growing the business.  The broadcaster who owns the “content” will insist that only people who are paying – are entitled to the content – can view

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