Preventing Data Leakage with SharePoint and Microsoft IRM

For many organizations, SharePoint has become the de facto successor to the Windows File System for managing documents. It offers many features beyond the Windows File System, including the capacity to manage documents through the entire lifecycle from draft, to approval, publication, archival, and finally, disposal. Additional features include access control and version control.

These features make SharePoint a formidable document management platform. However, in today’s security conscious world, companies ask for additional features to prevent data leakage. Reasons include preventing users, even authorized editors, from being able to download documents to thumb drives, or to email documents, to name a few.

This is where Microsoft Information Rights Management technology comes in. Microsoft IRM can be integrated into SharePoint to super-charge its security horsepower. Documents (for example, Word, Excel, or PDF) added to SharePoint are automatically encrypted using state-of-the-art encryption technology. While documents must be downloaded to the user’s computer in order to view the document (in a Word client, for example), it is decrypted on the fly in a process where the document communicates with the Rights Management Server, and provides only the rights, the user is permitted to have, for example, to read, but not print or copy/paste. These rights travel with the document. As such, IRM protected documents downloaded to a thumb drive, for example, are unreadable and useless, when opened outside the organization.

We hope you have found this edition of “To The Point” by Suthan Sivapatham to be helpful and informative. Look out for our next installment as we continue to explore unique topics from business to the latest technology.

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