The old saying has it that “Time is Money” – but these days, “Information” carries equal weight. If confidential or proprietary data is lost, stolen, or illegally copied, it can have consequences for a business that are just as catastrophic as the collapse of all its investments and the loss of its capital base.
That’s why having an effective Data Rights Management policy in place is a must, for today’s businesses.
Why is Data Rights Management Relevant?
Within an organization, controlling access to information and regulating the way that data can be copied or moved requires a systematic approach. Information may originate from a variety of sources, and once processed, it may find applications in any number of use cases.
At the enterprise level, it’s essential to have an overall strategy for preserving the integrity of corporate data, and preventing its loss through illegal or unintended transmission, cyber-assault, or hardware issues.
Remote working and an increasing reliance on private, public, or hybrid cloud infrastructures extends the need for a data protection strategy that includes smartphones, tablets and other devices used by members of an organisation to handle business data.
There are several reasons why data rights management is important, and we’ll look at those now.
1. Protecting Your Intellectual Property
Recent years have seen a huge growth in online piracy, and with new outlets popping up every day to offer streaming video and music, software, photographs and other content, there are increasing opportunities for both customers and counterfeiters to gain access to intellectual property.
Illegal copying, sharing, downloading, replication and distribution of this material can represent a serious loss in revenue for the artists and manufacturers who create the content.
Digital Rights Management (also known as DRM) is specifically concerned with copyright protection, and managing the distribution and consumption of digital media, such as music or video.
A digital rights management policy will usually embed code within these digital media to prevent copying. It may also set a maximum time-frame in which access to the content is allowed, or a maximum number of devices onto which it can be installed.
2. Preventing Data Losses
In addition to the threat from malicious intruders, lax security protocols, hardware failures, software glitches and human error may weaken a system to the extent that confidential or business-critical data is lost or transmitted to unauthorised users.
It’s not enough to just beef up your firewalls, install anti-virus software, and put blocks or scanners on your external ports. You need to think about your internal operations, as well.
Information Rights Management policies may be used to regulate the sharing of information through standard Office-type applications. This approach, coupled with monitoring for data access techniques such as screen capturing, key logging, or the cutting and pasting of big blocks of data will provide an additional line of defence.
3. Policing the Mobiles
With businesses having branch offices at distant sites, remote or home-based workers, and in-house BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies, it’s especially important to ensure that confidential business information isn’t being put at risk by the use of mobile devices.
Again, a multi-faceted approach is best. BYOD policies need to spell out and enforce the separation of personal and business data on mobile machines, while sensitive files and emails should be encrypted in storage, and in transit.
Mobile Device Management tools may be deployed to ensure that only authorised users have access to certain kinds of information. In addition, they may be configured to deactivate the camera on a mobile device when it’s in a sensitive zone. These measures may be coupled with a BYOD remote wiping policy, for devices which have been stolen, lost, or are otherwise deemed to have been compromised.
4. Protecting Your Customers
Online transactions, downloads and file sharing can put your customers at risk, too. Infected or defective software downloaded from your sites may damage not only your users’ machines but your own reputation, as well. And the personal and financial information collected from your customer base represents a valuable target for fraudsters and cyber-criminals.
Then there’s the “Big Data” dilemma: when does all that information you can collect and analyse to improve customer relations, target advertising, and improve your products and services overstep the mark, and become an invasion of your client’s privacy?
In this case, Data Rights Management is all about setting the boundaries that will keep your customer data safe and your clients reassured of its security – while still allowing you to conduct your business.
5. Protecting Your Workers and the Enterprise
Having strict policies for security, Data Loss Prevention, BYOD, and network rights access is all well and good, for the enterprise. But a stringent IT regime may leave your employees bemoaning their lack of freedom, and looking to other avenues to make their working lives a little easier. Password sharing, work-arounds, and a “Shadow IT” dependence on unsecured external resources such as those in the public Cloud may be the result – with holes being created in your enterprise security, to match.
So it’s important to strike a balance, to ensure efficiency, integrity, and safe working practices – and for everyone in the organisation to understand his or her rights and responsibilities.
Access rights to data and resources may be allocated on an individual basis, as determined by the specific duties each worker in a department has. This naturally separates the various duties in your organisation, and guards against access rights drifting from place to place as staff move to different divisions.
Setting these conditions down as a Data Rights Management policy makes sense, both for you and your workers.
Share this Post