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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Did I tell you why I left iWeb last year?

Don't get me wrong, iWeb is a great host, with top class service and excellent prices.

That's why I rented a dedicated server at iWeb, to host my streaming and encoding system, and stream Black Flag TV. I was using Adobe's Flash Media Server software suite, running on a robust dedicated server.

The stream was rock-stable, very little issues with the dedicated host I was renting. A few months later, while analyzing the bandwidth and requests stats, I noticed that Black Flag TV was becoming 'suspiciously popular'. Some days I was serving up to 16,000 streams.

That's a lot for a small TV station like Black Flag TV.

So I started to drill down in the data, to find where these streams were served. That was a tough call, since Adobe's streaming suite does not include a monitoring and analytics system. You need to develop your own method of analysis, or find a third party monitoring solution.

It took several days of investigation (during which the served streams skyrocket) but I finally found that a hacker was using my server to broadcast his content in the wild. Though I could see in the logs what he was doing, it was not possible for me to know where the origin signal comes from, and what the hacker was broadcasting.

The other discovery I made: Adobe streaming suite offered no possibility to block a certain signal to transit thru my server. I could stop the server, delete it from the library, and restart the server. Minutes later the pirate stream was re-created and resume its broadcast.

Then it struck me. I was responsible to distribute worldwide a video signal that could be anything. Terrorist stuff, child porn, illegal content, it could be absolutely anything. And there was no way I could block it.

So I decided to stop Black Flag TV for a few days, just the time I find a workaround. And it was during these days that I received an official Cease and Desist from a lawyer firm in the UK. Their client have discovered that I was broadcasting content, some Christian TV show belonging to Globo TV on the Brazilian market.

I was sort of relieved to know that it wasn't child porn running thru my server, but still, I had to find a way to pull the plug to whoever was using my system to broadcast stuff stolen from Globo.

I had two options. Get the high end package from Adobe that included all security services (and costed nearly $5k), or move my streaming system to a provider that could handle all security issues at their hand. I opted for the latter.

Renting your own dedicated server is the best option, but it also means you have to deal with all the security issues. If you can't, it's worth to pay the extra bucks to host your business at a company who can do it for you. If things go ugly, at least you're not under fire.

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