Best Practices for Modern Military Streaming

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Best Practices for Modern Military Streaming

Tactical Power And Performance
On The Post-quantum Battlefield

Source: Streaming Media: April 3, 2024
Video streaming has become a ubiquitous part of our daily lives, transforming the way we consume entertainment, conduct business, and communicate. The military shares the same insatiable appetite for video, but the stakes are higher: streams delivering actionable intelligence can protect lives and increase operational effectiveness against increasingly sophisticated adversaries. Video quality cannot be compromised: It must be accessible in contested environments to drive critical decision making.

Below are key best practices for military video streaming to meet the demanding needs of modern defense and intelligence operations.

TARGET LOW-BITRATE PERFORMANCE

The military depends on tactical networks which operate at the forward edge and often suffer from limited bandwidth. Optimizing video streaming for these environments is essential. Techniques such as adaptive bitrate streaming and efficient codec selection can significantly enhance video performance.

Lower bitrate performance means more video— and in some cases video streaming where it’s never been possible—over the same network bandwidth

EFFICIENCY MATTERS

Compressing and streaming video is a computationally intensive task. New hardware technologies such as graphics processing units (GPUs) and parallelization offer huge potential performance boosts but require large amounts of power. In a tactical environment, more power means carrying more batteries instead of bullets and generating heat while units try to lower their thermal signature. On today’s battlefield, efficiency means lower SWaP (Size, Weight and Power) and less burden on troops.

Consider power-efficient codecs and hardware for tactical applications rather than those with pure processing power.

HIGH COMPRESSION, LOW DISTORTION

High compression ratios in video streaming can lead to artifacting and temporal distortion between frames, which can diminish video clarity and usability. Modern codecs like AV1 solve these issues by performing internal processing at higher precision (10 or 12 bits per sample), reducing rounding errors, and improving video quality. Additionally, AV1’s adaptability to different input types and its support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) and color space make it ideal for military applications.

  • High compression comes at a quality cost. Codecs such as AV1 provide less distortion and better motion estimation than most.
  • Few encoders/codecs realize bitrates lower than 200Kbps for direct streaming applications.

POST-QUANTUM (PQ) SECURITY

In the realm of military video streaming, security is paramount. The challenges in this domain are evolving rapidly, necessitating a forward-looking approach to encryption and trust. It’s no longer enough to use encrypted communications networks or legacy methods such as AES256; new threats beyond encryption could dramatically affect our approach to streaming and consuming military video.

PQ ENCRYPTION

The war in Ukraine revealed many hard truths and insights, the most chilling being that traditional encryption methods, such as AES256 and Type 1, are becoming increasingly vulnerable to advancing cyber threats. Our enemies have already defeated most of our most-advanced cryptography. As quantum computing and hardware-accelerated AI become more of a reality, these encryption standards are expected to be easily compromised even in real time.

The solution lies in PQ encryption methodologies. PQ cryptography is designed to be secure against even the vast computing power of quantum computers, ensuring that classified streaming data remains protected. Military streamers should prioritize encoders equipped with PQ capabilities to future-proof their security infrastructure. In a military context, current crypto is compromised. PQ is still in its infancy, but solutions do exist that signal a bright future for secure comms.

DEEPFAKE AND AI MITIGATION

Imagine a group of SF operators watching a streaming video of their distant target. With our modern intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) assets, it’s easy for them to calculate threats and opportunities. But what if they weren’t watching reality at all—instead an AI-generated approximation nearly indistinguishable from the real thing?

The advent of AI has introduced a grave threat to videostream integrity: deepfakes. These AI-generated videos create convincing forgeries that mimic real footage. The military implications are grave, as even subtle alterations to real video can have significant operational consequences.

To counter this, it is crucial to implement advanced source assurance and trust methods. Leveraging PQ digital hashing, for example, can provide a robust mechanism to verify the authenticity of video streams and guard against deepfake manipulations.

  • Realtime AI manipulation and generation of false visuals is the biggest threat to our greatest asset: our battlefield ISR. The only way to defeat it is to create unbreakable trust with our streaming sources.
  • It’s critical to embrace PQ cryptography and leverage its principles to create trust. Just as the landscape of cyber threats continues to evolve, so must the strategies to protect sensitive military communications. By adopting PQ encryption and implementing measures to counter AI-generated forgeries, military organizations can ensure the security and integrity of their video streams against increasingly sophisticated adversaries.

CONCLUSION

In the face of emerging threats of electronic warfare and real-time hacking and AI, military IT teams must embrace the latest advances in video streaming—adapting quickly and leveraging best practices when upgrading their sensors, equipment, and software.

The future of secure military video and imagery depends upon prioritizing tactical video capabilities following the above best practices while embracing a PQ security mindset. Reticulate Micro’s VAST™ video-encoding platform specifically addresses many of these critical situational and cybersecurity issues.

Our efficient software-based encoder runs on low SWaP hardware such as our Snapdragon 8 gen2-powered appliance. VAST can direct stream video in real time over ultra-lowbandwidth networks that previously couldn’t support video, including UHF TACSAT and LTAC, as well as efficiently deliver high-resolution and HDR content (i.e., 8k video, 10–12-bit color depth) over more traditional networks. VAST features the first commercially available PQ encryption capability specifically designed for streaming video.

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About the Author
JOHN DAMES is Chief Technology Officer of Reticulate Micro, a commercial and defense technology company dedicated to delivering trusted and resilient communications over any transport and in any environment. Reticulate is building one of the world’s first Post-Quantum-encrypted open-systems platforms for robust video streaming.

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