secure dealing rooms

Secure Data Rooms

Secure Data Room: Secure Document Sharing, Access & Control

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Why Locklizard for a secure data room & secure document sharing?

Protect documents – due diligence, compliance, litigation, corporate transactions – from unauthorized distribution

Security issues, poor performance (speed of rendering, scrolling & searching), fixed document structures, yet another system for you and users to use – these are just some of the reasons why you should consider Locklizard Document DRM security over a secure virtual data room.

  • No Passwords

    There are no passwords or codes for users to enter so they cannot be shared.  Keys are transparently and securely transferred to authorized devices and locked to those devices.

    So unlike secure deal rooms, users cannot share access information, and therefore your ‘protected’ documents with others.

    Having no passwords also solves another management headache – Locklizard securely and transparently delivers document keys to a secure keystore locked to each device.

  • Secure Distribution

    Full control over document distribution:

    • Protect documents on your local computer – no uploading of unprotected files to a server where they could be exposed to attack.  You retain full control over unprotected documents and ensure they can never be exposed to the wrong people.
    • Distribute secure documents just like any other file – upload them to a cloud server, your web site, send by email or distribute on CD, USB, etc.

    • You are not forced to use yet another system where you have to manage user passwords or a use a fixed document structure for displaying your protected documents – easily integrate protected documents with your existing systems and automate document protection and adminstration.
  • DRM Controls

    Wide range of DRM controls to ensure documents cannot be copied or shared and you retain full control over them at all times.

    • Stop screen grabbing – stops users taking high quality screen grabs using screen grabbing tools.  Cloud hosted secure dealing room systems CANNOT stop screen grabbing because they do not install any software on the client device.
    • Stop printing (or limit the number of prints).  If printing is allowed then we automatically prevent printing to file drivers (e.g. PDF files) – this is NOT possible to prevent with cloud hosted secure dealing room systems.

    • Expire documents after a number of days use, views, prints, or on a fixed date.
    • Revoke documents and user access instantly (regardless of where they are located).

    • Track how documents are used by whom and when – know who you are actually tracking compared to a shared email and IP address.
    • Allow offline use with full protection – no forcing of users to be online to view protected documents.

  • Device & location locking

    Control the devices and locations your protected documents can be accessed from.

    • Automatically locks document use to authorized devices to prevent sharing.
    • Control the number of devices for each user that your protected documents can be used on.

    • Lock use to locations to control where your protected documents can be used from (e.g. office only).  This enables you to easily control BYOD use since documents on a mobile device will be available for use in the office but not when taken home.
  • Dynamic Watermarks

    Add dynamic watermarks to viewed and/or printed pages.  Dynamic variables are replaced by user data at print/view time.

    You only have to protect a document once for all users rather than having to protect documents individually for each user in order to display unique user information (name, email, etc.).

  • Secure Viewers

    • Installed Viewers provide stronger security than cloud-based systems – no uncontrolled browser environment where users can easily circumvent security controls.

    • We don’t expose user’s systems to attack by forcing users to enable JavaScript or turn off security functionality in Adobe Acrobat or other applications.
    • We don’t use or allow plugins since they easily break and can be used to bypass security.

    • No decrypting of files on a server or use of temporary files – documents are decrypted locally by the Viewer in memory so they cannot be compromised.
    • Unlike slow browser environments, large and complex documents are displayed instantly with fast scrolling and search.

    • You can also publish documents securely for zero installation viewing on USB devices (totally offline) or viewing in a Browser.
    • DRM controls are always enforced for both online and offline documents regardless of their location.

  • Simple to use

    Our document security software is simple to use – secure documents by right clicking on them in Windows Explorer.

    You only have to protect a document once for all users to control individual expiry access etc.

    Manage users and document access via our web-based administration system.

    Automate document protection, and automate administration (user management and document access) with our command line and API tools.

    Once users have clicked on a link to activate their license they don’t need to do anything else (i.e. enter a password, login, etc.) to open documents that they have been authorized to view.

  • Cost Savings

    No charges per document or user – just a one off fee for unlimited documents and users.

    Perpetual licenses save thousands – 3 year use would be a $11,800 saving compared to a $500 monthly fee.

    Host on premise in your own environment or use our ready-to-go AWS hosted systems.

Share documents securely: most secure virtual data room – no useless passwords

Locklizard takes your document security seriously – see why secure virtual data rooms are just snake oil.

Share documents securely without insecure JavaScript, passwords or plug-ins, and enforce access, location, expiry, and usage controls for both online and offline documents.  Protect confidential and sensitive business documents, due diligence, compliance, litigation, M&A and corporate transactions regardless of location with US Gov Strength encryption, licensing, and DRM controls.

Using DRM in secure data rooms to protect & control confidential & sensitive business documents

  Business requirements

In any enterprise there is information that has to be kept secret, but must be distributed, and therefore has to be identified with any recipient in the event that it is ‘leaked’. 

Here we address two examples of this requirement, and show how to identify secure data room solutions that meet business needs.  The first example is the control of board of management information, and the second is the control of information exchanged during mergers and acquisitions.

  Sharing documents securely

The critical feature of both of the above scenarios is that highly confidential information has to be made available to people who are not necessarily to be ‘trusted’ because their personal future is not determined by maintaining the confidentiality of the information they are being granted access to.  That is not to be interpreted in a negative fashion.  Independent directors are an essential component guaranteeing the governance of an enterprise.  Potential purchasers of an enterprise do not want to reveal secrets, unless, perhaps, they are jilted at the altar of acquisition.

So there’s the problem in a nutshell.  There are many occasions on which you are obliged to share secrets with people who you cannot control, and you are obliged to take such steps as you reasonably can to reduce their ability to cause harm.

Whilst board minutes are only one example of internal documents that need to be strictly controlled on the one hand, and yet have to go outside of the control of the enterprise, they can contain material that, should it become public for any reason, could have a significant impact upon the share price and future status of the business.

In mergers and acquisitions, the stakes are, perhaps, just blindingly obvious.  Information disclosed in this process is usually highly confidential, and misusing the knowledge of that information could be anything from commercially sensitive to requiring explanation to the share trading body of the country in which the enterprise is registered.  Or to put it another way, inappropriate disclosure could result in people going to jail.

  Types of secure data room solutions

The typical IT based solution relies upon access controls to prevent the unauthorized from gaining access to information (due diligence, compliance, litigation, corporate transactions, etc.).  This may be achieved in a number of ways.  For users connecting on an internal network it may simply be logon id and password that grants uncontrolled access to everything defined for that user.

Where outsiders have to be given access to information, IT departments create areas on servers, sometimes called virtual data rooms or data rooms, where information can be stored, and access controlled through the use of one or more specific logon id/password combinations, perhaps also using incoming IP address monitoring as a means of limiting the potential for people to give their logon details to others, thus defeating the access control.

This latter approach also allows a degree of monitoring of user activity through the use of cookies, and it can be made to appear more secure by using the SSL service to encrypt the information being transferred between the ends.

What neither of these IT approaches achieves is the ability to prevent the authorized user from taking copies of information to which they have legitimate access, and passing those copies on to others.  They also do not provide any linkage that can identify the source of unauthorized distribution.

An alternative approach, especially for internal systems, could be to use a document collaboration system.  These have various controls for describing controlled groups, and it may be possible to allow outsiders to have access by making outsiders appear to be insiders (rather like the IT solutions considered above).  What is more problematic about this type of solution is that collaboration systems expect documents to be editable, and that there is some hierarchy of users where some approve documents.  Commonly in the business cases described above, information is authorized before it is made available, recipients are not allowed to change anything, and some activities, such as printing, may need to be forbidden, or tightly controlled.

Finally there are DRM based solutions.  These have significant benefits over the other solutions described, because they can allow authorized recipients to use information without having to grant them access either to internal networks or to servers.  Where access is granted for limited periods of time this can be automated so that access automatically lapses without further administrative effort, or can be switched on and off again as suits the situation.  These facilities are significantly different from administering ‘secure data rooms’.  Finally, DRM solutions have additional features, such as being able to link the authorized user’ s identity to viewed images and printed images, to dissuade them from sharing information in an inappropriate manner, as well as preventing authorized users from being able to readily pass on copies of controlled information.

  Cloud based secure data rooms & secure virtual data rooms

The most common type of secure data rooms in use today is the cloud hosted secure data room or secure virtual data room, such as DocSend or Digify.  These enable companies to securely share confidential business documents with third parties without having to invest in infrastructure of spend time setting up access control systems.  At first glance, cloud hosted secure virtual data rooms seem to be an ideal solution for secure document exchange with external groups.  However they do have some major security issues.

Secure data room security issues
  1. All cloud hosted secure deal rooms rely on passwords for authentication.  Passwords, links, and other login credentials can be easily shared with other users (despite any claims to the contrary) so that means your confidential documents can be too.
  2. Multiple users can login at the same time using the same login credentials.
  3. Document content is decrypted on the server sand then pass it to the client device using SSL.  That might sound secure but browsers save content to temporary files (caching) to speed up rendering.  So your unprotected documents could be recovered by users from the browsers temporary file location.
  4. You have to upload your unprotected documents to a cloud server where they are outside of your control.  In theory they are then encrypted and the unprotected version is deleted – but what if something goes wrong and your unprotected documents remain stored on a cloud server for possible future access?
  5. Because documents are accessed using a browser, there is no security software installed on the local computer / remote device to enforce document controls – this provides easy ways to remove document protection.
  6. Unknown browser environments (i.e. uncommon browsers), browser plugins and browser development tools can all be used to circumvent the limited security controls. For an example of how insecure JavaScript-based browser controls are, see how easy it is to bypass Google Docs security.
  7. Allowing document downloads for offline viewing provides either no or weak protection.  Some secure data room providers enable users to view PDF files offline using Adobe Acrobat.  However they either provide NO protection (apart from a watermark which can be easily removed), or force users to enable JavaScript or turn off security controls in Acrobat and/other third party PDF readers.  This would be a good time to consider who is legally responsible if a user’s system is hacked.
  8. You have no idea who you are actually tracking since login credentials can be shared with other users, and multiple users can login with the same IP address when using a VPN.
  9. If you allow printing, users can print to unprotected PDF files.
  10. Users can take high quality screenshots of document content using screen grabber tools.

See also Is dataroom security adequate for secure document sharing and deal room security.

The security issues above are why secure data room systems are keen to show off their security credentials – i.e. how secure their hosting system backbone is.  It needs to be with all those temporary files sitting on the server in the clear when the files are decrypted.  You might therefore ask is encryption of data-at-rest in a secure room important?  Well yes, if the server gets hacked, but there are clearly easier ways into the system (and access to your documents) than that.

  Is encryption of data-at-rest in a secure data room important?

Encryption of data-at-rest in a secure data room is important, but it is only part of the story.

If data is encrypted at rest (i.e. stored encrypted on a cloud server) that ensures hackers cannot access your documents by gaining entry to the server (assuming of course that encryption keys are not left vulnerable).

The main purpose however of a secure data room is to enable secure document sharing – allowing only those you have authorized to view protected documents.  If authorized users can share links and login credentials with others then hackers breaking into a server to try and access your documents may be the least of your worries.

So encryption of data-at-rest may not be the silver bullet you think it is – it is just one component of data room security.

  What is the most secure virtual data room?

The most secure virtual data room system is one that can:

  • provide secure and transparent key management so users do not enter any login information that can be shared with others
  • lock documents to devices so they will not open if copied to another device
  • provide the same full protection for both online documents (those viewed in the Web browser viewer) and offline documents (downloaded files)
  • decrypt document content on the client in memory (so it is not cached to disk) rather than on the server
  • stop multiple users logging in at the same time with the same credentials
  • stop printing to PDF and other file formats
  • stops screen grabbing software
  • protect documents on your local device so they are not exposed on a cloud server

Many secure data rooms that advertise themselves as the ‘most secure data room’ or ‘highly secure data room’ do not provide any of these basic security features.

  So, secure data rooms for secure document sharing?

Secure data rooms were developed using the techniques of a central control system administered by IT departments.  They achieved considerable success, although they did not prevent their users from being able to obtain copies of documents and pass them on without detection.

Cloud hosted secure data rooms expanded on the need to share documents securely outside of the contraints of an internal IT system but also have major shortcomings.  These password based systems have still not addressed being able to stop users sharing sensitive documents with others – they just provide better monitoring so you can see ‘who’ (what login details) has accessed what documents.

DRM solutions for documents that don’t rely on passwords or plugins provide a much more secure solution to document sharing and distribution.  They provide better control over the use of documents, lock use to devices and locations so they cannot be shared, and provide better operational flexibility for those who have to set up and administer the secure distribution of sensitive information.

So if you want to protect confidential and sensitive business documents, due diligence, compliance, litigation, corporate transactions, and other M&A documents from unauthorized access, distribution and use, then an installed Viewer that can lock documents to devices is the only effective way of sharing documents securely.

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