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E-DRM plugs ECM security gap

This article appears in the issue April 2008 [Volume 17, Issue 4]

The gaping hole in security schemes for enterprise content management (ECM) systems is that few, protections exist once the information is legitimately accessed. That confidential information, which might include price lists, legal documents, patented designs, blueprints and reports, can often be printed, e-mailed or faxed to unauthorized parties without any security attached.

That has given rise to an emerging but critical set of capabilities by a new breed of software companies that develop and sell enterprise digital rights management (E-DRM) software, also known as information rights management or intelligent rights management (IRM). E-DRM/IRM software protects e-documents through their life cycles, both in internal and external use, and helps organizations:

• track e-documents and e-mail access across the enterprise;

• protect proprietary and confidential data;

• maintain client confidentiality and privacy; and

• comply with privacy laws and government regulations such as the U.S. Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and others.

ECM providers have been partnering with or snapping up E-DRM providers to address content security issues.

EMC acquired E-DRM provider Authentica in February 2006 and integrated Authentica’s products to offer EMC Documentum IRM Services. The U.S. Presidential Daily Briefing, giving access to certain pages of the document to those with security access, is delivered using the solution.

Also in 2006, Oracle  acquired ECM provider Stellent (which had acquired SealedMedia, a leader in the E-DRM market, earlier that year). Oracle renamed the SealedMedia product line Oracle Information Rights Management (Oracle IRM). Oracle recently announced a key milestone: the millionth independent user download of Oracle IRM Desktop agent. Oracle IRM customers include The Financial Times, Congressional Quarterly, and AOL/Time Warner.

Other leading E-DRM providers include:

Fasoo of South Korea, which stepped up its entry into the U.S. market last year with the launch of an Enterprise DRM network appliance called XDRM. Although new to the United States, Fasoo has one of the highest annual product revenues of any DRM software concern worldwide, as well as possibly the largest aggregate (global) installed base in enterprise DRM.

Informative Graphics Corp. (IGC) has historically provided large-format document (e.g., blueprints) management solutions primarily to companies in the manufacturing, architectural, engineering and construction markets. Today IGC also manages typical office documents and supports integrations to enterprise content management vendors such as Open Text (opentext.com) and Oracle.

Visual Rights, a component E-DRM technology from IGC, is a layer that sits on top of E-DRM software, such as that from Oracle/SealedMedia. Once a user has access to a document, Visual Rights controls what he or she can do with the document visually, and allows users to apply integrated and persistent security controls to drawings, documents and images during the publishing process. Sensitive fields can be redacted (blocked out) based on user permissions. Authorized use of a document can expire, and watermarks and banners can be displayed to reveal rights or copyrights.

Liquid Machines provides E-DRM solutions that uniquely support the use of multiple policy servers including Microsoft Rights Management Services (RMS). Its products can help support existing networks—from laptops, file shares and USB storage to BlackBerry devices. Integration with one or more directory servers such as Microsoft Active Directory and Sun LDAP facilitates user administration. Major customers include Microsoft (used to enable the Microsoft Communications Protocol Program to securely license its intellectual property in electronic document format), Corning, Goldman Saks and $10 billion hedge fund Fairfield Greenwich Group.

Modevity released Imperium in late 2007, a new E-DRM technology for corporate applications. Modevity has content management and streaming media product lines, particularly targeted to the pharmaceutical industry in the Pennsylvania/New Jersey area, where major U.S. suppliers are largely based.

Pinion Software is an E-DRM provider that handles large-format and 3-D documents, and is positioned similarly to Informative Graphics. But the difference is it has taken an operating system-level approach, one of the only vendors to provide protections at the application and kernel level (as does Oracle IRM), which is important; otherwise that level is open to an attack. Pinion was formed in 1998 as a spin-off of a firm with roots in the defense intelligence business, so roughly half of its revenues come from the federal government. Many of its other customers in the private sector are implementing to meet compliance demands (such as those from Sarbanes-Oxley) to secure executive communications.

Limitations of current e-document security

Content and electronic document security today is really primarily perimeter security—securing the perimeters within which e-documents are stored, rather than securing e-documents directly. Documents and e-mails are somewhat secure while they remain within access-controlled perimeters, such as file system folders, e-mail inboxes, content management or collaborative repositories, etc. But those documents and e-mails are also routinely used and stored on thousands of desktops, laptops and mobile wireless devices—inside and outside the corporate firewall—from where they can be easily and untraceably opened, copied and forwarded to anyone, anywhere.

E-DRM (or IRM) software is filling security needs in a global business environment of increasing collaboration, integration, alliances and cooperation with competitors, or "co-opetiton."

 


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