Security Risks with Streaming Video

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For some, it’s difficult to understand that live streaming can bring a host of threats. This is largely due in fact that streaming and the security risks associated with developing technology are new and likely not seen before. 

And because most streamers are focusing on entertainment content, they do not have a background in cybersecurity or know how to mitigate the risks

So, we are going to shed some light on a few of the security issues you may have to deal with if you decide to start live streaming on platforms like Twitch, Youtube, or Twitter.

The Top Risks With Streaming Video 

STREAM GRABBING & RE-UPLOADING 

If you are streaming, there is always a risk someone will be copying your video and then use it as content somewhere else. This is different than someone just using your streaming content in the context of talking about your stream. 

Some will attempt to pass off your content as their own, or just steal it to generate views and ad revenue for themselves. To solve this, most streamers make some type of branded overlay on the video, along with showing their face on the stream with picture in picture.

STREAM SNIPING

If you stream your gameplay, you have to be aware of stream-sniping. For those not in the know, stream sniping is when someone you are playing against is watching your game stream, thus gaining an edge. 

To avoid this, set a delay to your stream if your streaming platform allows it. Unfortunately outside of setting a delay there isn’t much you can do to avoid stream sniping. However, if you do find out someone has been stream sniping, you may have the ability to ban them depending on the platform.

OVERLOADED LIVE CHAT

If you have streamed before with 1000+ people watching, you know how difficult it can be to handle the live chat on top of streaming. This leaves the chat open to potential scammers or malicious actors posting links to malware or worse. 

If you are a streamer with thousands of people watching, chances are that one or more of your fans would love to be a chat moderator. This will allow the malicious actors in the chat to be weeded out, thus keeping all of your viewers safe. This is also important for protecting your reputation as a streamer, as a compromised chat will make people not want to interact with you during the stream. 

PHISHING

Phishing has been with us a while now. It’s taken many forms and become part of the global lexicon.

Sometimes streamers will answer questions in the stream or chat. This can be a security risk depending on the questions. It’s a common issue that streamers give out personal info in-stream that would allow hackers or malicious actors to gain access to the streamers online accounts.

If you want to give out an address to receive gifts or cards from your fans for example, it’s a good strategy to setup a PO box instead of using your personal address. 

SWATTING

If you’ve never heard of swatting, you’re lucky. The process of swatting is when someone calls the cops on a person with a fake 911 or emergency services call. This can be a huge issue with people who are streaming themselves. 

In 2017, a streamer in Kansas was shot and killed due to a fake 911 call. The incident was caused by a dispute in an online game. To protect yourself against this, if you are a popular streamer you can contact your local police department and let them know that the issue may happen. 

PLATFORM HACKS

The tips we have listed to this point are just about staying safe with practices, however the actual platforms themselves can get hacked or compromised in addition to your individual stream. One such attack was a security breach on Twitch in 2015 that caused massive data leaks. 

The data leaked during the hack included streamers’ physical address, telephone numbers, names, passwords, and other sensitive data. And because some people use the same password for every platform (a really bad idea) all of their other accounts were compromised also. 

Best Tips To Stay Safe

UTILIZE A VPN

A great way to keep yourself safe when interacting online is a VPN. If you purchase and install a VPN from a well known and trusted VPN provider, you can guarantee that any information transmitted while you are online is done so in a secure way. 

If you are not familiar with a VPN or Virtual Private Network, it is basically a private connection that allows you to transmit data and use web applications in a way that ensures all of your data is private and secure. 

One of the important considerations with VPNs is logging. Depending on the country of business incorporation, VPN companies are subject to data privacy laws. Local laws may result in all VPN connections from that country being unsure. VPNs can be sorted via countries that log or don’t. 

USE A STRONG PASSWORD

A common way streaming accounts are compromised are by brute-force, AKA, people guessing your password. To ensure you are using a good password, it should be a combination of letters, numbers, & symbols. 

Following this best practice will ensure that nobody can simply guess your password. This is especially an issue with streamers as your viewers will likely get to know you better and better over time. 

USE A DEDICATED STREAMING EMAIL ADDRESS

We mentioned earlier that sometimes due to data breaches, your personal info may be revealed. That’s why it’s a good strategy to use a dedicated email address to setup your streaming account. This can also help protect and separate your personal life from your streaming life. 

This is because your email address is a way people can connect you to other online accounts. Meaning people can find your Facebook or other social network and accounts simply by searching your email.

Final Thoughts

When you are involved with streaming video, it’s common to be unaware of the new risks it brings. However, if you are thinking of making an income by streaming or are just doing it to have fun, you need to be aware of the risks. 

By following these tips, you can help protect yourself and your stream and keep all information safe. 

About the Author
Sam Bocetta is a technical writer focused on network security and open source applications. He writes for a number of security publications, including CSO Online, Tripwire, EC Council, and others.
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