Updated July 25, 2023

Many of us use cloud services like Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive to store our files and share them with colleagues or friends. Similarly, in recent years, part of enterprises’ digital transformation has included migration to cloud services. As enterprises embrace various cloud applications, new challenges arise for digital rights management in terms of balancing information sharing and security which can lead to vulnerabilities such as cyber-attacks and data breaches.

File-sharing services like the aforementioned have some level of native security built into them, but it’s not enough to fully protect your data once it’s been shared. Stolen passwords, account takeovers, insiders with malicious intent, and just plain carelessness are part of the equation when it comes to cloud applications and security breaches. That’s why digital rights management (DRM) solutions are so important to maintain balance between information sharing and security. On one hand, you need to share information to do your job and collaborate with others, but on the other hand, you have to be wary of the inherent risks associated with cloud content-sharing services.

Balancing “Sharing” & “Security”

With the dispersed nature of cloud computing and the proliferation of various device types, it becomes crucial to manage digital rights effectively and provide persistent protection when there are so many vectors for bad actors to get at your sensitive data.

Having an effective DRM solution helps ensure data remains safe, without sacrificing the ability to efficiently collaborate, share, and edit across various applications.

All good things start with authorization

The success of a data protection program often hinges on a well-designed strategy, seamless rollout, and rigorous monitoring and enforcement. Case in point: the role of dynamic authorization.

For those unfamiliar with the term, dynamic authorization is often the backbone of the most effective digital rights management solutions out there. Before you even reach the stage of assigning digital rights to specific files, you would be wise to first use dynamic authorization to determine in real-time whether someone even gets to access a document stored in, say, Box. User and environmental attributes such as group, department, device type, IP address, and many other factors, provide the granularity and context needed to determine if someone should have access to a particular file.

Smart Encryption – Secure File Sharing

Once authorization has occurred, the next step is to apply automated rights protection. This is where encryption comes into play. You can apply digital rights to the files being shared and can control what exact usage permissions the recipient gets to have. Functions such as Read, Edit, Print, Display Watermark, Download, and Setting Expiration Dates are all possible with digital rights management solutions. These rights stay with the file regardless of where those files are located ensuring persistent protection, whether they are inside or outside your network or in the cloud.

Ultimately, digital rights management coupled with dynamic authorization substantially augments the native security of file-sharing services, essentially extending data protection outside the corporate network, even if those files end up in unmanaged (e.g., BYOD) devices.

Persistent Protection

With rights following the files no matter where the latter goes, it becomes much easier to share files with peace of mind. This persistent data protection works across multi-tier supply chains, supporting the delegation and tracking of additional sharing (i.e., the original recipient of the file shares it with others). At the end of the day, you’re essentially protecting your data as it makes its way across multiple repositories and devices.

Centralized monitoring & auditing

You obviously want to keep track of where your data is. It is important to include tracking along with your digital rights management system, since it provides the ability to monitor document usage irrespective of the file’s location or the device from where it was accessed. You also want to be able to track any unauthorized access attempts as a checkbox item for an effective data governance program. Of course, you should have the ability to add or remove recipients easily, too. Many regulations today (GDPR, Schrems II, HIPAA, and ITAR are a few that come to mind) have specific requirements around data access. Having a single pane of glass across all your sharing and monitoring activities makes auditing for compliance purposes much easier.

On-prem needs some love, too

Sometimes it’s easy to forget good ol’ fashioned on-premises repositories. They’re not quite dead yet on this day of cloud this and cloud that. Until we reach the point where every single company’s IT systems are completely cloud, a digital rights management strategy should encompass both on-prem and cloud repositories. For instance, popular Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems like Siemens Teamcenter still have vast installed bases that are deployed on-prem. It’s not unusual for large enterprises to have a mix of on-prem and cloud repositories for their sensitive data.

Achieving data-centric security

Solutions exist today that can address all of the above challenges. With an Enterprise Digital Rights Management (E-DRM) solution designed to protect data as it moves and is shared across today’s extended enterprise, it can easily adapt to dynamic business situations to support ad hoc data sharing between customers, vendors, and supply chains. NextLabs on-prem and cloud E-DRM solution, SkyDRM, enables enterprises to persistently protect data while also allowing the organization to maintain centralized visibility and control of data-sharing policies.

To learn more about how SkyDRM can help you ensure secure collaboration on-prem and in the cloud, please visit: https://www.skydrm.com/#/home