To 'seal' or to 'wrap': that is the question ...
By Simon Thorpe on Jun 14, 2010
If you follow this blog you will already have a good idea of what Oracle Information Rights Management (IRM) does. By encrypting documents Oracle IRM secures and tracks all copies of those documents, everywhere they are shared, stored and used, inside and outside your firewall. Unlike earlier encryption products authorized end users can transparently use IRM-encrypted documents within standard desktop applications such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, Internet Explorer, etc. without first having to manually decrypt the documents. Oracle refers to this encryption process as 'sealing', and it is thanks to the freely available Oracle IRM Desktop that end users can transparently open 'sealed' documents within desktop applications without needing to know they are encrypted and without being able to save them out in unencrypted form.
So Oracle IRM provides an amazing, unprecedented capability to secure and track every copy of your most sensitive information - even enabling end user access to be revoked long after the documents have been copied to home computers or burnt to CD/DVDs. But what doesn't it do?
The main limitation of Oracle IRM (and IRM products in general) is format and platform support. Oracle IRM supports by far the broadest range of desktop applications and the deepest range of application versions, compared to other IRM vendors. This is important because you don't want to exclude sensitive business processes from being 'sealed' just because either the file format is not supported or users cannot upgrade to the latest version of Microsoft Office or Adobe Reader. But even the Oracle IRM Desktop can only open 'sealed' documents on Windows and does not for example currently support CAD (although this is coming in a future release). IRM products from other vendors are much more restrictive.
To address this limitation Oracle has just made available the Oracle IRM Wrapper all-format, any-platform encryption/decryption utility. It uses the same core Oracle IRM web services and classification-based rights model to manually encrypt and decrypt files of any format on any Java-capable operating system. The encryption envelope is the same, and it uses the same role- and classification-based rights as 'sealing', but before you can use 'wrapped' files you must manually decrypt them. Essentially it is old-school manual encryption/decryption using the modern classification-based rights model of Oracle IRM. So if you want to share sensitive CAD documents, ZIP archives, media files, etc. with a partner, and you already have Oracle IRM, it's time to get 'wrapping'!
Please note that the Oracle IRM Wrapper is made available as a free sample application (with full source code) and is not formally supported by Oracle. However it is informally supported by its author, Martin Lambert, who also created the widely-used Oracle IRM Hot Folder automated sealing application.