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Using Digital Rights Management (DRM) for Document Security

Sharing documents online is impossible to avoid in the workforce today. Whether a user is sharing documents within their department, across the extended enterprise, or with partners and joint ventures, maintaining a level of security on these shared documents is necessary.

Document security refers to measures taken to prevent data in documents from being wrongfully accessed, manipulated, or reproduced. Examples of document security measures include encrypting documents, controlling access to confidential information, and monitoring the use of documents and files. In addition, documents can be secured by restricting usage to prevent document damage, using secure computer systems and networks, and proper removal of unattended documents and records.

How to Keep your Documents Safe Using Digital Rights Management

One way to accomplish this is through the use of digital rights management (DRM) technology. Digital rights management technology works exceptionally well in dynamic business settings that rely on constant collaboration. It allows sensitive, business-critical information and data to be created, viewed, modified, and distributed securely. DRM systems protect enterprise information from unauthorized access, use, and distribution by evaluating and enforcing access policies to the information distributed in electronic documents. Digital rights management policies selectively prevent document recipients from specific activities like copying, printing, forwarding, cut & paste, and expiration, if they are not authorized. Policies can be updated to revoke access to a file even if the document has been distributed outside the enterprise. In doing this, DRM can protect data against theft, misuse, or inadvertent disclosure by mitigating the business, legal, and regulatory risks of collaboration and information exchanges with partners and customers.

Why is DRM Important for Document Security?

Implementing document security can minimize or prevent data breaches or misuse of sensitive business-critical information. Enterprises must ensure that only authorized users have access to these sensitive files, which is the aspect of document security that businesses across the world often struggle with.

Document security via the implementation of DRM technology resolves this by enabling enterprises to easily monitor and track access and authorization. The DRM policies secure documents throughout their entire lifecycle of storage, backup, processing, and delivery through features like encryption, watermarking, and data rights management.

Further, proper document security can lower the risk of data corruption. Corruption occurs when users have damaged sections in their hard drives or when they store media that may contain viruses or malware. Document damage can also be caused by hackers that install dangerous ransomware in order to change or destroy information.

Examples of How DRM Can Be Used to Protect Documents

Here are two examples that outline how document security and DRM fit into day-to-day business practices. Examples such as these can be implemented with products like SkyDRM, NextLabs’ DRM solution.

Example 1

Digital rights management technology can allow organizations to set policies that define specific access rights for documents. For example, an administrator, who we will refer to as Jane, can create a policy to allow users in the Engineering department to have the View, Edit, and Print rights on documents with Confidential classification. When a user in the Engineering department, who we’ll call Bob, logs in, creates a PDF, and labels it with Confidential classification, it is immediately a protected file. This protection stays with the file, even when Bob copies the file to the cloud and accesses it on another machine.

However, if a user from a different department, such as a Manufacturing user, who we’ll call Lily, attempts to access the protected file in the cloud, she will only have View and Edit rights. If she tries to print the document, she is denied access due to the fact that the policy states that only Engineering users have View, Edit, and Print rights.

Example 2

DRM can be used to apply persistent security to documents even as they are shared.  A user, who we’ll call Bob, may create a PDF that contains proprietary information that they need to temporarily share with a partner, who we’ll call Kate.  Bob can protect that file with a DRM solution, and choose to share it with Kate, who is then able to authenticate and view the document.  Kate may be restricted, however, to only viewing the document online, and not being able to save it locally or print the contents.  Bob can choose to have Kate’s access expire, at a predetermined point, or may choose to actively revoke Kate’s access, after which she will not be able to view the document.

Learn more about the benefits of digital rights management, how it works, and how to enhance DRM. 

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