secure document sharing

Secure Document Sharing

Secure External Document Sharing – securely share & distribute PDFs

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  Using Document DRM for secure document sharing & external document distribution

In any organization there is a need to be able to share information across departments, across functions, with resellers and agents, and even with competitors and third parties such as legal advisers.  But the decision about who gets to ‘share’ information remains with the owner, the corporate body, and not with the recipients.

The need to share documents securely, both internally and externally, or send documents securely by email or other means, requires a very flexible series of DRM controls to support the differing scenarios the business must be able to support.  Apart from being able to restrict the users who can open a secured document to stop them from being able to pass it on, you may need to restrict the location(s) it can be used in, or you may wish to prevent it from being printed or used after a specific date.  Some users may be allowed to use documents whilst connected to the internal network only.

This is the essential difference between ‘collaboration’ and ‘sharing.’  In collaboration control of document content may be devolved, even to the point where recipients can choose who else may use (and change) secured documents.  In sharing, document content is available to authorised recipients to use, but not to edit, distribute or re-distribute.

In sharing documents securely or distributing documents securely for either internal or external use, decisions have to be made about who may receive which documents, and where they may use them, and for how long.  Secure, external document sharing can be enforced with both device and location locking to ensure only third parties you have authorized can view your confidential or sensitive business documents.

  • Stop documents being shared & distributed without authorization

    With password based systems such as Adobe PDF password protection users can share both documents and passwords with others.  So PDF password protection does not ensure secure external document sharing or enable secure document distribution since it cannot prevent documents from being shared with unauthorized users.

    Locklizard use public key technology with a secure and secret key transfer mechanism so that keys are never exposed to users and interfaces where they can be readily exposed.  Document keys are locked to authorized devices within a keystore, so if the keystore is copied to another device it will fail to work.  This security mechanism stops users sharing protected documents with others and enables you to securely distribute documents without fear of them being passed on to unauthorized parties.

  • Control expiry

    Ensuring that documents expire after a certain period of time or use can be an important part of secure document sharing, secure document distribution, and limiting document use.  Controlled documents can have fixed end dates so they stop being available automatically – so stopping access to them does not have to be administered manually.

    Locklizard enable you to securely distribute documents that automatically expire:

    • on a fixed date
    • after a number of days use
    • after a number of views
    • after a number of prints

    So you have full control over how long your protected documents can be viewed and printed.

  • Prevent printing or limit copies

    Generally where controlled shared documents are searchable there is no requirement to allow paper copies to be made and by default printing is disabled.  Disabling printing is an important aspect of secure document distribution as it ensures printed copies cannot be made available to unauthorized users.

    However, if you want users to be able to make printed copies then you can:

    1. limit the number of high quality prints allowed
    2. enforce color documents to be printed in black & white or grayscale
    3. log each time a document is printed (see when and where your protected documents were printed)
    4. watermark printed content with user identifiable information (using dynamic watermarks that insert user and system information at print time) to discourage photocopying and subsequent distribution

    Locklizard automatically prevent printing to file drivers so that users cannot print to unprotected PDF files and other digital document formats.

  • Lock use to devices

    Locklizard automatically locks document use to devices so they cannot be shared.

    Only authorized devices can view protected documents.

    This enables you to tightly control document sharing since users have to share a physical device (thier laptop) unlike secure file sharing sites where they can easily share login details with others.

  • Restrict location access

    The introduction of personal tablets (BYOD) into the work place has required a change to controls to make sure that documents that can be used in the workplace cannot be used from other locations, although they must continue to be available from the right location(s).

    Locklizard protected PDF documents are able to implement controls such as country locations and the range of IP addresses that they may be used on, allowing shared documents to be restricted to corporate networks, as well as requiring the validity of the license to be checked with each use.  You can restrict location access on a global and user basis enabling tight control over secure document sharing with third parties, ensuring secure document distribution policies are adhered to.

  • Track use

    There may be occasions when you want to see if a document you have distributed securely has been viewed and/or printed, and where, when and how often this occurred.

    Locklizard enables you to track document use so you can identify any suspicious activity and instantly revoke access if required.

  • Revoke access

    There are going to be times when you have distributed documents that are no longer valid, users have left a company, or contracts with third parties are no longer active.  On these occasions both documents and users will need to be revoked so that document access is no longer possible.

    Locklizard enable you to instantly revoke access to documents for all or individual users, or revoke user access to all or individual documents in one go.

    Being able to revoke access is an important feature of secure document distribution since it ensures you retain full control over user’s access to documents regardless of where they are located.

   Why Access Rights & Encryption cannot Prevent Document Sharing & Unauthorized Distribution

Access rights were an important development in the mainframe computer era.  Access rights started by preventing you writing to a magnetic tape, and improved to reserving the type of access rights you had.  But if you had read access you could make a copy of the file.  So access rights did not go very far to prevent document sharing.

So to prevent document sharing and enable secure document distribution you need to do something extra.  DRM controls have to be something different from document access rights.

Some people aim to provide secure external document sharing by using document encryption.  Document encryption is a valuable technique because it prevents document sharing if you do not have the decryption key.  If you look at document encryption software (look at the ArticSoft or the PGP web sites as examples) what they do is take a document and encrypt it.  That’s it!  There is nothing about stopping valid recipients from copying, document sharing, printing and so on.  So anyone who can decrypt the document can share it (and also alter it, perhaps without detection).  So although document encryption software can restrict who can use documents (although there is nothing to prevent people from sharing document encryption keys, and therefore document sharing) it does nothing to prevent document sharing.

Document DRM combines encryption, DRM and licensing controls, together with additional OS controls (such as preventing screen grabbing) that work to prevent document sharing or reduce the desire of users to allow document sharing for documents they are linked to.  Personalising document rights with watermarking on viewed or printed images encourages users to avoid document sharing for photographed or printed material.  Restricting the number of times documents can be printed or seen is an improvement over access rights, because it is not an all or nothing control.  Document rights are absolute, but DRM controls can be variable, granular and changeable to suit the rights a publisher wishes to grant.

   Secure Document Sharing and Secure Document Distribution in the Cloud

The introduction of ‘the cloud’ as part of the Internet of things is a recent re-invention of developments by companies such as Tymshare in the 1970’s who introduced networked file and system sharing in an environment that would later be called collaboration.  Collaboration enables users to share and update files stored on remote servers.

The Locklizard model for secure PDF file distribution is not a document collaboration system since it does not allow users to edit, copy or save document content or pass on user rights.  It is a method of publishing documents securely that prevents alteration, document leakage and piracy.

Locklizard support the cloud access approach to secure PDF files by providing web based access using the normal browser interface – Safeguard Web Viewer – so it no longer matters where the user is or the device that they are using.  So publishers are able to extend accessibility to their users by publishing their documents to the web and users viewing them via a browser rather than users installing a Viewer on their device.

This does not mean there is a compromise in the security of documents accessed through the browser.  Protected documents are passed, encrypted, to the browser in ‘chunks’ of 2 or 3 pages and not the whole document in one go.  This makes it more difficult to collect all the pages if someone is attempting to subvert the browser.  Further, only one logged user can use the account at a time, so if a user has had their account compromised (or possibly given the access details away) they will not be able to use their account whenever someone else is using it – which may encourage them to report incidents.

Cloud based document DRM enables a more flexible method of secure document sharing (works on any device with a browser) and support all the usual DRM controls supported by Locklizard, including document expiry, logging and watermarking.  Safeguard Web Viewer can be run on your own intranet (internal to your business) as well as being outside facing as a publicly accessible web site.

  Secure External Document Sharing and Distribution via USB sticks

Sometimes there will be a requirement to share documents securely in a meeting or at an event.  This is a typical requirement for paper documents.  But what if you could securely share digital documents instantly instead?

Locklizard enable you to publish your protected documents to a USB device along with a protected keystore and a secure Viewer.  Basically all the components required for users to open them.  USB devices can then be distributed like paper documents but with additional controls such as expiry, individual user watermarking and location locking.

Safeguard Portable can be used as a completely offline solution (no Internet access ever required), and since secure documents are locked to USB sticks rather than to specific computers they can be used anywhere.

Safeguard Portable provides secure external document sharing without users having to install any software or plugins, or access any online systems.

Locklizard – the best way for businesses to securely share documents

Secure external document sharing without passwords

Locklizard is the best way to securely share confidential and sensitive business documents within an organization and for secure, external document sharing with third parties.  We provide total PDF protection with US Gov strength AES encryption and public key technology to ensure your PDF files remain protected regardless of their location.

  • Our DRM PDF Security products enable secure document distribution – share documents securely without insecure passwords or plug-ins, and enforce access, location, expiry, and usage controls.
  • Unlike Adobe Permissions which can be easily removed, our DRM controls persistently protect your PDF files and enable you to revoke PDFs at any time regardless of where they are.
  • No keys are exposed to users or interfaces and documents are only ever decrypted in memory – see our DRM technology.
  • Documents are protected on your computer so there are no unprotected copies uploaded to the cloud where they could be compromized.  Distribute protected PDF files just like any other file – by email, upload to a web site, etc.
  • Our easy to use adminsitration system provides simple user and document management and unlike passwords, keys are transparently and securely managed for you.

Read our customer testimonials and case studies to see why thousands of organizations use Locklizard PDF security to securely share documents and securely sell PDF files.

Customer Testimonials