Another approach to IRM

Last week I had a discussion with Seclore, a software company based in Mumbai, India. They are focusing on the area of Information Rights Management (IRM), one of my favourite research areas. I'm interested in this topic mainly for two reasons:

  1. Information Rights Management is one of the IT topics with the closest relation to the core business topic of Information Security/Protection (including Intellectual Property Rights, IPRs).
  2. Information Rights Management is the approach which allows the ongoing protection of information at rest, in move and in use - compared to many other approaches which cover only one of these phases.
Most solutions in that market are based on plug-ins into existing applications which enforce the IRM policies. The policies are managed centrally, information (documents) are protected by encryption.

Seclore's approach is different in that they not mandatorily rely on such plug-ins but mainly act "below" the application. The client component (which is required to access protected, e.g. encrypted, documents) tries to analyze the activities off the application like access to the file system. One impact of that approach is that a document might be opened with different applications supporting the specific document format.

Even while I personally believe that implementing IRM functionality within the applications (the more common approach of vendors like Microsoft, Adobe and Oracle) allows a tighter control about the actions of a user and application on a document, the Seclore approach has some appeal. It is lightweight and works well today with different applications and in different environments, beyond the enterprise. As long as there is no common standard for the interactions of applications (the policy enforcement points) and the IRM backend systems across different vendors, this is a workaround. And once there is such a standard, Seclore is very likely to support it. Thus, not only looking at the big vendors but as well at Seclore makes sense in these early days of Information Rights Management.


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