Information rights management (IRM) is a discipline that involves managing, controlling and securing content from unauthorized access or compromise.
IRM is a subset of digital rights management (DRM), which protects intellectual property from patent infringement and piracy. IRM focuses on protecting sensitive data and documents, especially data and documents that are exchanged with parties outside of an organization, such as vendors, professional services providers, partners and suppliers.
Clearly, IRM is an important consideration when publishing and sharing document files of any file type, including Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations and PDF files. IRM also applies to “non-document” content, such as databases, HTML files, code bases and applications.
IRM technologies use encryption to protect files from unauthorized access and actions, including viewing, editing, downloading, copying, printing, forwarding or deleting.
The Case for Information Rights Management
IRM is imperative now more than ever. Files must be protected from misuse from within or from outside the organization, and IRM can be an important tool to improve an organization’s cybersecurity posture.
Increase in Cyber Threats
According to Microsoft, cyber attacks have increased dramatically in both volume and sophistication over the past year, using techniques that make them harder to spot and that threaten even the savviest of targets. The first half of 2020 saw an approximate 35% increase in total attack volume compared to the second half of 2019.
As such, it is imperative that organizations take the strongest of measures to protect their devices, applications, data and networks from attack. Implementing IRM to documents offers a high level of protection, as once a document with encryption and IRM is shared outside of the corporate network, it can be rendered useless by the attacker.
Another reason for the need for IRM is the increasingly stricter regulatory environment. Businesses of all sizes, and not simply those who do business with governments, are required to increase their security posture based on continuing guidance issued from a regulatory agency or industry association.
Some of these include the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council, which mandates the security settings for software and hardware used by businesses that accept credit and debit cards. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act stipulates how personally identifiable information maintained by the healthcare and healthcare insurance industries should be protected from fraud and theft, and includes guidance for the security settings used by such organizations.
Research shows that employees are often the cause of security breaches. According to the 2018 State of the Industry Report published by information security company Shred-it, more than 40% of senior executives and small business owners report that employee negligence or accidental loss was the root cause of their most recent data security breach.
This is not necessarily about employees responding to phishing emails. The same study showed that more than 25% of U.S. workers admit to leaving their computer on and unlocked when they are no longer working. While additional training can help, stronger security measures, including the use of IRM, will reduce the possibility of employee error and any resulting data breach.
Issues with IRM
IRM can often be difficult to implement simply because of the volume of documents and content that are generated by employees on a daily basis. However, a simple solution that works “in the background” without employees needing to set up or adjust any features while they are working, can reduce friction and encourage adoption.
Further, employees continue to work from home using multiple devices, including personal devices not owned or managed by an employer. In a multiple-device environment, an organization needs to ensure that IRM software or features are enabled on employees’ personal devices in order to protect the organization from threats or compromise.
Further, non-traditional “documents” need to also have rights management built-in. Cybercriminals might not only be interested in Word documents or PDF files, but also the source code for applications built by developers within the company. IRM needs to be a consideration for all types of documents and files created, used, and shared within or external to the company.
Leveraging a Virtual Data Room for IRM
A virtual data room is not simply a cloud document management platform for those involved in corporate and financial transactions.
Organizations should consider an enterprise document security solution like Caplinked that has years of experience providing data rooms for highly sensitive merger and acquisition transactions. Privacy and data security are critical, of course, but not at the expense of user experience. Companies and their advisers should be able to access and review documents easily, unaware of the encryption and security controls at work in the background.
Further, administrators should not only be able to easily upload documents and provide permissions and access rights but should also have the ability to take down documents and revoke permissions just as easily when different teams with different needs are involved.
Digital rights management capabilities provide complete control over how a document is accessed and utilized. Caplinked’s FileProtect feature lets companies share documents while retaining the ability to deny access to anything, even after it’s been downloaded.
Ready to learn how Caplinked can uplevel your organization’s IRM efforts? Start your free trial today.
Jake Wengroff writes about technology and financial services. A former technology reporter for CBS Radio, Jake covers such topics as security, mobility, e-commerce, and IoT.