Digital rights management (DRM), also known as information rights management (IRM), is essentially a tool to control how something is used.
While DRM takes many forms today, it has roots in the entertainment industry and the age when digital media was primarily sold and consumed via CD and DVD. Record companies place DRM on music CDs to prevent end users from making their own copies; films on DVD receive the same treatment, plus region encoding to control (to an extent) where in the world a film can be viewed.
These days, streaming services like Netflix and Spotify rely on DRM to maintain control over protected information, while even Keurig Green Mountain uses DRM to control which types of coffee pods work on its products.
DRM For The Enterprise
Enterprise DRM takes the principles upon which classic DRM is based and applies them to a corporate environment where data access, sharing and manipulation is controlled through a multi-dimensional series of access rights.
Multi-dimensional access rights let IT departments address these questions:
Who can access data?
What files may be accessed?
Where and how can files be accessed?
How many times is access allowed?
What may be done with the files?
Can End Users Circumvent DRM?
The multi-dimensional access rights granted by robust enterprise DRM platforms give IT granular control over what users may do with every file or file type. But as an end user, it’s often frustrating to find that copy/paste is disabled, or that you can’t print or take a screenshot. So some people attempt to circumvent DRM.
Screen scraping, essentially taking an image of protected material with a camera, is possible any time an end user has unmonitored access to both a camera and DRM’ed data. Additionally, nothing can prevent someone from manually typing out protected information seen on a screen. For organizations where manual copying is a concern, consider discouraging the process by formatting documents so that magnifying or zooming in on text is required, and that only a small block of text may be viewed in one instance.
The Second Coming Of DRM
DRM is not a new technology; it’s been around for many years. While IT was generally happy with the DRM tools of the past, end users were not. As DRM and the surrounding technology improve, it becomes less of a burden for end users. A simple click of the mouse is now all that’s necessary to open a DRM file. End users get the seamless access and usability they want, and IT gets the security it demands. With so many new advances in technology and usability, DRM is now entering a renaissance of sorts.
Enterprise DRM has evolved from an obtrusive hurdle for end users and IT to manage into an experience more aligned with what today’s users expect out of workplace technology: seamless, easy-to-use and invisible.
The most complete enterprise DRM tools allow IT departments to control who accesses what data, when and where that data may be accessed, how the data can be used and more. Enterprises that seek granular, multi-level controls should look for a DRM solution that allows multi-dimensional access controls. Consumer-grade file sharing services like Dropbox offer some security tools, but are not a complete enterprise file protection suite.
Moreover, the most robust enterprise file security suites use data loss prevention (DLP) along with DRM to embed encrypted access rights controls into the file itself, meaning IT retains some control even when a file leaves the corporate network. This allows IT to ensure that only authorized recipients (operating in authorized environments) have access to files. Embedded DRM enables detailed tracking and auditing of shared files wherever they go, independent of location, device and user.
Enterprise File Security Benefits of DRM
Powerful enterprise DRM technology allows document owners (and corporate IT departments) to control the use of shared documents and manage (or even revoke) the permissions to open, view, download, print, copy/paste, forward and edit those documents. This level of enterprise DRM protects documents even after they’re downloaded by the recipient on a device not controlled by corporate IT.
When executed properly, enterprise DRM offers nearly flawless security for the data it protects. The latest advancements in enterprise DRM make the security features essentially invisible to the end user; workflows go uninterrupted while the user experience and interface stay the same.
Enterprise DRM also dramatically simplifies many standard IT department problems by allowing administrators to stop thinking about every piece of endpoint device data that flows over to the network. The burden on IT is significantly reduced when the department can concentrate on protecting the data itself rather than individual devices connecting to various parts of the network.
Ready to learn more about how enterprise DRM could benefit your organization? Download your free copy of DRM, EMM & You: Controlling Data Beyond The Corporate Network.