IRM and Consumerization

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As the season of rampant consumerism draws to its official close on 12th Night, it seems a fitting time to discuss consumerization - whereby technologies from the consumer market, such as the Android and iPad, are adopted by business organizations.

I expect many of you will have received a shiny new mobile gadget for Christmas - and will be expecting to use it for work as well as leisure in 2011. In my case, I'm just getting to grips with my first Android phone.

This trend developed so much during 2010 that a number of my customers have officially changed their stance on consumer devices - accepting consumerization as something to embrace rather than resist.

Clearly, consumerization has significant implications for information control, as corporate data is distributed to consumer devices whether the organization is aware of it or not. I daresay that some DLP solutions can limit distribution to some extent, but this creates a conflict between accepting consumerization and frustrating it.

So what does Oracle IRM have to offer the consumerized enterprise?

First and foremost, consumerization does not automatically represent great additional risk - if an enterprise seals its sensitive information. Sealed files are encrypted, and that fundamental protection is not affected by copying files to consumer devices. A device might be lost or stolen, and the user might not think to report the loss of a personally owned device, but the data and the enterprise that owns it are protected.

Indeed, the consumerization trend is another strong reason for enterprises to deploy IRM - to protect against this expansion of channels by which data might be accidentally exposed. It also enables encryption requirements to be met even though the enterprise does not own the device and cannot enforce device encryption.

Moving on to the usage of sealed content on such devices, some of our customers are using virtual desktop solutions such that, in truth, the sealed content is being opened and used on a PC in the normal way, and the user is simply using their device for display purposes. This has several advantages:

  • The sensitive documents are not actually on the devices, so device loss and theft are even less of a worry
  • The enterprise has another layer of control over how and where content is used, as access to the virtual solution involves another layer of authentication and authorization - defence in depth
  • It is a generic solution that means the enterprise does not need to actively support the ever expanding variety of consumer devices - the enterprise just manages some virtual access to traditional systems using something like Oracle Secure Global Desktop  or Citrix or Remote Desktop.
  • It is a tried and tested way of accessing sealed documents. People have being using Oracle IRM in conjunction with virtual desktops for several years.

For some scenarios, we also have the "IRM wrapper" option that provides a simple app for sealing and unsealing content on a range of operating systems.

We are busy working on other ways to support the explosion of consumer devices, but this blog is not a proper forum for talking about them at this time. If you are an Oracle IRM customer, we will be pleased to discuss our plans and your requirements with you directly on request. You can be sure that the blog will cover the new capabilities as soon as possible.

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Oracle IRM protects and tracks your sensitive information no matter where it goes. It combines business friendly encryption with role based usage rights and auditing.

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