Traveler's Insurance: IRM Protects Your Documents Wherever They Go

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Apr 29, 2008

May 2008 Issue

Protection Versus Obstruction
If the free flow of information is essential to any enterprise-class business, it makes it all the more difficult to balance security needs while keeping information flowing smoothly. Mendel thinks the rewards of protecting valuable information far outweigh the minor inconvenience of taking an extra step to open a document. "Typically when a company comes to us for IRM, the reason they are coming is because they have a good idea what they want to protect. They know they have a huge risk in IP loss or theft or personal data protection such as documents containing customer Social Security numbers, for instance. They know that even though encrypting that information may add some hassles for the people opening files, in the end, it far outweighs risks of potentially losing that information."

Webster doesn’t think the hassle is too great and won’t really inhibit the flow of information internally. "It takes that extra step if you want to protect it, to secure your IP by wrapping it and implementing it through a policy server, but that’s not going to hamper what everyone does internally." She adds that IRM protection might only kick in when documents flow outside the company to partners you can’t control and who may also do business with your competitors. For example, she says, you might have designers working internally on a line of clothing. Documents can flow freely among them, but when you send the line out for bid to manufacturers, you probably want to protect your IP by applying IRM.

There is no fool-proof security solution, and finding a method that prevents data loss, while allowing for the reasonable flow of data, is not easy. Yet in today’s Web 2.0 content-sharing world, companies need to look seriously at ways to control content as it moves inside and outside the enterprise. Information rights management provides one way to protect documents wherever they go, even if it places a requirement on end users to load a client. If you move around a high volume of documents—and want to be sure they are traveling safely—IRM makes a lot of sense.


Reasons for Protecting Documents With IRM
Chris Schneider, senior product manager for Microsoft Office, outlines some reasons you should use IRM to protect your documents:
•    Prevent an authorized recipient of restricted content from forwarding, copying, modifying, printing, faxing, or pasting the content for unauthorized use.
•    Prevent restricted content from being copied by using the Print Screen feature in Microsoft Windows.
•    Restrict content wherever it is sent.
•    Support file expiration so that content in documents can no longer be viewed after a specified period of time.
•    Enforce corporate policies that govern the use and dissemination of content within the company.

Practical IRM Applications
The applications for IRM are virtually unlimited, but here are some examples:

Melissa Webster, Analyst, IDC
Mergers and Acquisitions

If you are an investment banker doing deals, the last thing you want is those documents being shared broadly. That puts everyone at risk and opens you to insider trading charges. It’s potentially very damaging. IRM ensures only those authorized to see documents can view them. There’s also a lot of revision work in these deals, and IRM guarantees version control.

Andy MacMillan, VP of product management, Oracle

Sales Pricing Version Control

If you are a large car dealer and you have a document describing your latest prices, you can ensure that the dealers have the most up-to-date information. If you have version 25 on each dealer’s computer, and there is an update available, you can expire the obsolete version by changing a date. This forces each dealer to download the most recent version and makes it impossible for them to open the old version again.

Ed Gaudet, SVP of corporate development and marketing, Liquid Machines
Control Shared Documents

When a cell phone company puts manufacturing of its latest phone out to bid, it needs to share the engineering drawings with each company. You can send the documents with information rights management protection and expire content based on a particular time or dynamically expire rights after you select the manufacturer.

Companies Featured in This Article:

Liquid Machines

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