Network Security, Vulnerability Management

Where collaboration fails: The need for content distribution control

Information is a company's most vital asset. From customer information and financial data to research, training, corporate secrets, and intellectual capital. Unintentional and intentional leaking of information puts an organization at risk for piracy, damage to reputations, and missed revenue opportunities. In fact, according to The Leaking Vault 2011, document loss is now the leading cause of all data breaches

There are many solutions on the market today that claim to help with information leakage by providing protection for content as it is being shared collaboratively with external audiences. However, these collaboration solutions only protect access to the content, they do not protect the content itself. 

With traditional content collaboration solutions, companies have no control of a file's trajectory once it leaves their internal organizations. This means they have zero insight into how information is used, where it is sent and stored, and who is accessing it after it leaves their organization. Companies sharing proprietary information with manufacturers, suppliers and others, lose governance of that information once it leaves their internal networks, potentially exposing their intellectual property to competitors and criminals.  Further complicating the issue of content control is the proliferation of mobile devices, because users download and view content on insecure devices that may be lost or stolen.

What is needed is a way to go beyond securing access to content, to actually securing the content itself -- no matter what kind of content it is, where it goes, or how it is consumed. Today, a new generation of content distribution technologies are emerging that do just that. Unlike collaboration solutions, these technologies focus on content distribution, control, and analytics. Organizations can keep their content anywhere they want – in public or private clouds, in collaboration tools, etc. – and still fully protect it with controlled delivery, tracking capabilities, and consumption analysis via a secure system.

How Content Distribution Control is Different|
Content collaboration tools on the market today such as Sharepoint, Adobe IRM, and Dropbox create a secure online environment in which people can collaborate, share files and manage projects. These solutions secure the area around the content– they wrap access rights around the content to ensure that it can only be viewed by authorized users. What these tools don't provide is insight into how the content is being consumed or control over what users can do with it (e.g. forward, modify, copy/paste, export, print) They don't confer the ability to stop an authorized user from misusing the content once they access it.

Protecting content for outbound distribution requires a different approach. It requires protecting the content itself, not just access to the environment in which it resides. In the past, some content collaboration solution providers have tried to extend the content control to outbound distribution, but these efforts have failed because the technology has been too onerous to end users, requiring software installation and heavy infrastructure, which prevented them from being widely adopted.

Today, new content distribution control technologies are emerging that can provide greater content protection than ever before. The key capabilities that set these new distribution control technologies apart from content collaboration solutions include:

  • Content can be kept anywhere -- These technologies deploy through the cloud, so content can remain wherever it's stored. Files can remain within the internal network or private cloud where they are stored, and the content distribution solutions point to them, encrypt them, and set rules and parameters, without ever moving or copying the file. Documents, video, and other files never exist on the users' devices, making it simple and easy to withdraw access, publish updates and changes, and effectively manage access.
  • Content usage can be tracked – These technologies provide insight into how content is being consumed with actionable analytics that enable companies to understand how the content is used, including the device it is viewed on, the geographic location of viewers, the frequency of views, duration of each view, and more. This data can be used to remove access, improve content and track data usage.
  • Content can be terminated – When content is out of date, no longer needed to be shared, or reports indicate it has been corrupted or inappropriately viewed, the content owner is able to remotely terminate access immediately.
  • Content is easy for end users to view securely – These new content distribution protection solutions are easy to deploy and use, requiring no installation by the end user. Content is delivered to a viewer built into any browser using existing APIs.

Content collaboration solutions secure content only so far. To ensure maximum protection for critical information assets, organizations must have a secure content delivery strategy in place. 

Get daily email updates

SC Media's daily must-read of the most current and pressing daily news

By clicking the Subscribe button below, you agree to SC Media Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.