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The Need for Digital Rights Management in Secure File Sharing

Written by Kevin

 

From simple communication to high-profile business development, collaboration among enterprises and employees in digital sphere is the everyday essence for work productivity, and in the heart of it lies the frequent sharing of files between internal and external individuals and groups. However, sharing is often not the end, as users will open and edit the files after sharing the files, which can be exposed to unseen threats of breach or leakage. Therefore, sharing files securely, whether in or out of office, is a priority for enterprises to avoid potentially catastrophic consequences.

Secure file sharing is not just one process, but a set of security measures that not only protect file confidentiality but also provide work productivity, both in and out of office. However, the majority of secure file sharing solutions come short in achieving both objectives, because the solutions focus on a model that is centered only around encryption.

Why is encryption insufficient for secure file sharing?

First of all, encryption works when enterprises assume that the trust in their employees and the legal force of documents, such as non-disclosure agreement, is at 100%. However, such assumption is never guaranteed, and leaving important matter like file confidentiality to chance should never be considered by enterprises. Such claim is even truer when confidential files with valuable data like financials or business development are being priced higher than ever before and sought by other entities.

Secondly, encryption prevents file confidentiality only from those without access keys. It is true that various encryption tactics like one-time password or two-factor authentication provide an extra layer of security; however, they merely extend outward, meaning that they provide more security ‘before’ file access.

Therefore, secure file sharing must employ digital rights management (DRM) in addition to encryption to protect file confidentiality ‘before and after’ file access.

The possibility of most critical threats to file confidentiality increases ‘after’ encryption, and they are mainly caused by unauthorized or even the trusted insiders with access keys. Moreover, insider threats are harder to detect and deter, as they come unexpectedly and unknowingly. In response, DRM plays an important role by restricting a specific set of functions after file access, which can potentially lead to file leakages, such as file copying, screen-capturing, printing, network-transferring, and more.

DRM is crucial, but it is not there to replace encryption. Therefore, it is important to acknowledge that DRM is added to encryption, rather than replacing it, to protect file confidentiality from both external and internal threat. After all, insider threats accounted for nearly 75 percent of security breach incidents, according to SecurityIntelligence. By going above and beyond encryption with DRM, sharing confidential files can be truly secure from internal and external threats of breach or leakage.

The need for DRM in secure file sharing is evident, as the idea of holistic file security ‘before and after’ access should be prioritized to prevent both external and insider threats. Furthermore, it provides employees to use a wide range of functions within the files’ native application, under the restriction from using a specific set of potentially risky functions like copying, printing, and screen-capturing. Stepping away from read-only or complete access restriction, specific leakage controls of DRM will help enterprises and employees to share, work, and protect their confidential files with ease. Therefore, DRM will prove to be an important factor in making enterprise file sharing to be completely secure and productive, both in and out of office.