Secure Systems: User Authentication and Auditing

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This is the third blog in a series exploring what makes media systems secure in an age of global collaboration and increasingly cloud-based workflows. You can read the first blog which discussed the merits of on-premises storage versus cloud storage here. The second blog in the series discussed why interoperability matters and can be read here.


Media workflows have, over time, grown more complex, incorporating multiple systems, often across both on-premises and cloud-based infrastructure. At the same time, you’ve got individuals and teams around the globe needing to access those systems easily and quickly. With all of this to balance, ensuring that assets are as secure as they can possibly be is an ongoing challenge for media organisations. In this blog, we’ll look at the key role that user authentication and auditing play in keeping modern media infrastructure secure.

Unifying authentication


Ensuring that only the right people have access to media assets is at the heart of securing systems. This was much more straight forward in a traditional broadcast infrastructure, when users accessed systems operating in isolation, through a single-entry point. Media workflows have evolved enormously and now typically incorporate lots of separate components all integrated together. That is very different to the kind of end-to-end systems seen in the past.


A consequence of this is that there is no longer a single authentication point. Users will often have to authenticate their credentials on multiple systems, as they perform actions on assets moving through the workflow. This is inefficient and frustrating for users. As mentioned in the last blog post, it can also result in Gorilla IT where users look to bypass security measures because they are too time consuming. This is why it is so important to get the balance right between security and ease of use. To combat the issue of users having to authenticate their identification credentials on multiple systems, media organisations can work to unify their authentication points.

Maximising visibility


Along with ensuring that authentication is working effectively, it’s also critical that companies establish systems that facilitate visibility. What does this mean in practice? If a media asset is sent to multiple people for actioning using a download link, once sent, visibility is lost. You no longer have sight of that asset, so control over who can access it cannot be regained. In contrast, if that asset is stored in one location, whether that be on-prem or in the cloud, users would need to sign-in to access the asset. That way, the visibility of, and control over the asset is continually maintained.


Operating media systems in this way, where users travel to the data (rather than the other way round) makes it much easier to ensure that only those individuals with the correct access rights can access the data. This is particularly important for large organisations with higher staff turnover or contractual agreements with freelance editors.

Auditing effectively


If media companies know who is accessing their assets, and they are clear on the time location and the actions being taken, they have some incredibly useful data. But if no one is looking at that data across siloed systems, then it quickly becomes pointless. However, if both the data and the systems are centralised, it is then possible to cross reference the information.


As with all data mountains, manually checking though this volume of information is not an efficient strategy. It is too time consuming and open to human error. Instead, companies need to set up effective exception reports, that identify the exceptions to the standard rule that require further investigation. Regularly auditing systems in this way is an important part of ensuring that security is maintained.


Media businesses need to work to achieve just the right balance between security and accessibility. A pragmatic approach is required, ensuring that systems are as secure as they can be, while allowing users to work efficiently. For it to be most effective, security around media systems needs to be tailored to suit a business’s individual requirements. 7fivefive has both the expertise and the knowledge needed to deliver secure and effective infrastructure solutions.


Get in touch to find out more.