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What Is Enterprise Digital Rights Management (EDRM)?

Posted on Thursday September 8, 2022

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Enterprise digital rights management is necessary for your business if you handle intellectual property or other sensitive information you want protected.

What Is Enterprise Digital Rights Management?

Enterprise digital rights management (EDRM) is digital rights management (DRM) technology used in an enterprise setting to protect private or sensitive information from theft or unauthorized access from both internal and external users.

Enterprise digital rights management is sometimes known as information rights management. EDRM is focused on two main things: protecting a document throughout its life cycle and just as importantly, providing this protection wherever the document travels.

EDRM’s ability to ensure content is protected independently of its platform, device, or location differentiates it from traditional perimeter-based defenses that rely mainly on authentication and authorization mechanisms.

In essence, EDRM is the same as DRM but with enterprise-focused use cases. DRM combines content protection, primarily through encryption, along with identity access management, user access, and entitlement rules. Also, the scope of an EDRM is much more vast compared with DRM, allowing organizations to collaborate more securely across value-based ecosystems to safeguard intellectual property.

The core concept of a DRM system is protecting digital content with a digital license. To implement this system, a DRM architecture is built with three main components: the license server, the content server, and the client.

The Content Server

As the name suggests, this server acts as the content repository where the product is stored. This digital database also includes a DRM packager. The DRM process of document security starts with encrypting the content with a content key. The DRM packager is responsible for this encryption, in addition to preparing and packaging the content for distribution.

Along with encryption and packaging, the DRM packager also creates labels that describe the user access rights that the content provider wants to allow the user to exercise.

The License Server

The license server is where the content’s encryption key and its corresponding rights description are sent. Therefore, it typically includes these repositories:

  • An encryption key repository
  • A rights description repository
  • An identities repository
  • A DRM license generator 

As its name implies, the DRM license generator is tasked with both creating and distributing the digital license. In its basic form, the digital license generated contains the following information:

  • The information of the license issuer.
  • The identification and encryption key of the content.
  • The identification of the content user and/or the device that wants to exercise rights to the content.
  • The specification of the user rights applied to the content.

The Client

The client is the part of the DRM architecture that contains the user identification mechanism, the rendering application, and the DRM controller. If no corresponding digital license exists on the client side, then the responsibility falls on the DRM controller to request it from the license server.

Thus, the DRM controller ensures that the digital content is lawfully used on the device accessing the content.

What are the Benefits of EDRM?

EDRM has a significant impact on your organization, from increasing regulatory compliance, reducing IP theft, and mitigating risks associated with collaboration with partners.

How Does EDRM Help with Information and IP theft?

Enterprises need to juggle complex issues related to privacy, and data ownership, in addition to preventing and investigating IP theft. However, the digitization of virtually all business processes has had a huge impact on the vulnerability of proprietary information.

More so because the volume of data generated every day by an organization and its affiliates has exceeded the capacity of traditional database management systems to control. EDRM provides them the capacity to safeguard and prevent the theft of intellectual property. Below are other benefits provided:

Improved Information Management

Electronic data systems enable documents to be filed automatically, thereby centralizing documents where they can be conveniently located. This makes it easier to apply optimization techniques to improve the quality of content and data, such as normalization strategies to avoid duplication and redundancy.

Improved Security and Risk Mitigation

EDRM places security front and center. In addition to strong password protection, any EDRM system worth its salt uses enterprise-grade encryption to secure documents so they’re safeguarded with the highest level of protection.

EDRM provides multilevel security by restricting the range of operations that can be applied to content or metadata, such as read, write, copy, and print operations.

EDRM also applies zero-trust security architecture to ensure users are frequently authenticated and authorized to prove their identity and prevent escalation of privileges. So, by alleviating risks, EDRM improves the ability of teams to introduce new products and collaborate faster with a high level of confidence.

Improved Accessibility and Ability to Control Content Availability

EDRM improves an organization’s overall record management, productivity, and efficiency. It provides better all-around quality, along with a centralized repository where information can be easily retrieved in terms of speed, convenience, and accessibility.

EDRM gives you the means to limit the availability and accessibility of a range of information assets to contractors, suppliers, and other third parties. Dictating asset availability enables you to control when you want your content to be published, perhaps to control its accuracy and timeliness. This control enables an organization to bolster its compliance with regulatory requirements.

Improved Collaboration

EDRM is used to protect sensitive documents while it’s accessed by multiple parties, whether it’s via email exchanges or third-party applications. This protection allows EDRM to improve collaboration among business partners, especially where it concerns sensitive content like mergers and acquisitions, product design documents, and financial reports.

As a result, EDRM helps to facilitate an information-sharing culture with high confidence in the data security of its documents.

Curtailing Reputation Risks Surrounding Information Handling

Both private organizations and government agencies face reputational damage when confidential information gets leaked to the public. Fortunately, EDRM provides built-in mechanisms to ensure that sensitive corporate and government information doesn’t get leaked and undermine public confidence.

With its data protection mechanisms that travel with sensitive documents, EDRM mitigates this type of corporate risk.

Effective Stewardship of Intellectual and Copyright Assets at Scale

In the modern business era, a company’s intellectual property is its most important competitive advantage. Therefore, it’s imperative for them to retain control of this type of content. EDRM streamlines this control and protection by making it efficient, with cost savings in terms of time and money for its enforcement.

It’s also significant that EDRM provides enterprises with effective control and ownership of these assets at scale.

Meeting the Regulatory Compliance Requirements

EDRM software typically have audit trail systems and data tracking features that enable organizations to understand how data is being used, and what guardrails and safeguards surround it. Therefore, EDRM allows companies to establish benchmarks from which they can evaluate their regulatory compliance or lack thereof.

How to Choose the Right EDRM Solution for Your Business?

When looking for an EDRM solution, there are certain features that protect your content comprehensively, like the following.

Dynamic watermarking and screen capture blocking: This prevents people from grabbing video screenshots. This feature is necessary because even if video downloads are blocked, it stops people from circumventing your IP through screen capture

In addition to discouraging the capture of screenshots, embedding watermarks permit you to identify the point of origin of piracy through the inclusion of email address, user ID, IP address, and others.

  • Encrypted DRM streaming: To support video protection, an EDRM solution should provide encrypted DRM streaming. This, in turn, means the software has to enable support for DRM licensing and encryption technology such as Google’s Widevine, Apple’s FairPlay, or Microsoft’s PlayReady.
  • Geo, IP, and time-based restrictions: At times, content producers need to restrict their content to certain geographic locations and time periods. This is more typical with video content. Therefore, a DRM solution should provide you with the ability to restrict access to content based on variable conditions like time, geolocation, and/or IP address.
  • User Access Control with DRM: A DRM solution should empower you to determine how various audiences can use and access your content. With that should come the ability to grant or revoke privileges remotely. Some of the granular restrictions it should provide include the following:
    • Start date on accessing or viewing content
    • Browser and/or device usage limits
    • The number of times it can be printed or copied
  • Smooth integration into existing workflows: A DRM solution should be flexible enough to integrate with different business applications like client relationship management, data leak protection software, digital assets management, and other content management systems.
  • Analytics and tracking: An ideal EDRM solution should provide tracking features that show how the content is shared and distributed. Analytics should give insight into how people access the content, along with timestamps and editing attributions.
  • Ability to provide notifications: Sophisticated DRM systems are able to provide alerts and notifications, especially when illegal activity such as unauthorized distribution and illegal copying has been detected on copyrighted content. This feature places content producers in a better position to pursue legal action against those violating their copyright.
  • Normalization and deduplication: With its centralized repositories, EDRM reduces the number of duplicate copies or suppresses them from being discovered or promoted. Automatic capture of records and deduplication operations increases the quality of content disseminated to the public. 

Key Points to Consider When Implementing an EDRM System

These are meant to serve as a guide, not an ironclad rule to follow when implementing an EDRM system in an organization.

1. Identify Your Organization’s Most Critical Data

During implementation, priority should be accorded to the most critical data. These are the “crown jewels” that are crucial to your operations and competitive advantage as an organization, which you can’t afford to lose or allow to get compromised.

Some of these include confidential company financial information, personally identifiable information, protected customer information, and so on.

2. Identify Your Data’s Foundational Infrastructure 

Another crucial step of a successful EDRM implementation is identifying the frameworks and systems used to maintain and store data. For some implementations, this marks the starting point of the DRM cycle and typically includes pinpointing the security policies that also need to be maintained.

Once these have been identified, the challenge would be how to incorporate them into the EDRM solution.

3. Identify the Processes Where Your Organization’s Critical Data Is Used

During implementation, you need to figure out which process steps require data, especially those of critical or confidential nature. You subsequently need to evaluate how processes use business data, so the EDRM can determine the range of operations permitted on them, such as viewing, editing, scanning, copying, or printing.

4. Identify Existing User Roles and User Identity Management Process

In order to have consolidated user roles, you need to undertake an audit of existing user roles in the organization and existing systems. This enables you to understand the role definition, in addition to the data used and accessed by each role.

What Are the Principles That all EDRM Systems Should Follow?

Here are the guiding principles and general characteristics every EDRM software should embrace.

  1. Protect intellectual property and copyrighted content using top-notch encryption, with zero-trust user access wherever it travels.
  2. Employ the use of secure license and policy servers hardened against cybersecurity attacks or systemic failure.
  3. Control of user access rights with account management mechanisms that protect content by restricting who can perform view, copy, print, etc.
  4. Incorporate tamper-resistant features on client applications.
  5. Emphasizing the kind of EDRM implementation that requires minimal changes to user applications and existing business processes.
  6. Enabling dynamic rights updates along with offline access to content.
  7. Permitting third parties to access rights-protected content securely.
  8. Analytics and the ability to trace the distribution of content using dynamic watermarking. 

Learn How Digital Guardian Secure Collaboration Can Help Your Enterprise Digital Rights Management

EDRM is a game-changer for organizations that need to protect high-value content and data while leveraging them for profitable business operations. EDRM protects confidential data in a business climate that requires collaboration with third parties and supply chain support.

To learn more about protecting and securing personally identifiable information, read our whitepaper on the Seven Use Cases for Secure Collaboration.

Tags:  Secure Collaboration

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