Weaknesses in Identity Management and PDF DRM

Privileged user abuse and the compromise of account information, such as the one seen in the 2020 Marriott data breach, are emerging as the root causes of most of today’s data infringements.

According to an insider threat survey report, over 60% of organizations consider that privileged data users pose the most significant insider data risk. At the same time, over 75% are not assured they have controlled the management of their user privileges.

Hackers and cybercriminals use several social engineering tactics such as phishing emails and phone calls to acquire the credentials of an individual’s identity that they need to hijack. This can enable them to walk through undetected through the digital front doors of any company and its network.

Heterogeneous settings that make use of on-premise storage and cloud networks means that IT security personnel are often overwhelmed with understanding the weaknesses and blind spots within the systems to identify data threats.

The reason behind identity protection failures is that an individual’s identity is like a coin with two sides. One side of the coin contains data access risks built by the processes and rules of legacy identity management.

The other side of the coin is the susceptibility to data exfiltration, insider threats and compromise to information. And since both sides of the coin are interconnected, it is crucial to take a holistic approach in eradicating the data security weaknesses between on-premise infrastructure and off-site cloud storage.

For instance, it is critical to identify and get rid of unnecessary access risks to confidential information to decrease the surface area of identity attacks. Similarly, monitoring the access and activities connected to legitimate identities can also expose unknown data threats.

Data security risks stem from numerous accounts and user privileges, unknown accounts, dormant accounts, shared privileged access accounts and access sprawls. The massive quantities of such accounts could make them practically difficult to control with legacy processes and identity management procedures.

When organizations begin to factor in the access of third-party associates, independent consultants, contractors, partners, and sometimes even revolving employees, the situation can get out of hand.

And in many cases, it has been seen that data risks are often measured in minutes, whereas the dwell time or the time for the hacker or the cybercriminal to enter the system and breach data could be weeks and sometimes even years.

According to the Ponemon Institute, it takes approximately 200 days for a US company to detect a data infringement. And because identity management is often controlled by a different group other than the IT department, if a data breach takes place, security operation analysts responsible for detecting the threat are often confused about the visibility into identity access rates.

IT security teams must monitor the access and activities connected to legitimate user accounts or privileged users that can access both on-premise information and cloud storage data.

This can help them to understand irregular actions by insiders or lookout for external hackers trying to capture valid accounts. Although such a task could appear easy at first glance, it can be a difficult job to achieve.

Besides these hurdles, the mobility of data and storing it in the cloud can further decimate the last remainders of a conventional data security boundary.

This can leave organizations with a vast expanse of a borderless environment to protect their confidential documents and information where the only identity can be the key to saving it. So what can organizations do to eliminate these weaknesses?

As the next level of data security, digital rights management systems (DRM) protects your documents and PDF files containing sensitive data from unauthorized access by using encryption.

In addition, you can apply controls or policies to privileged users and documents, for example, to determine if the user needs to access the information beyond a particular time period. PDF DRM for example enables you to expire PDF documents on a certain date, or after a number of views or days use.

PDF DRM protected data is secured from unauthorized copying, printing, altering, deleting, viewing and forwarding. As a robust access control and document use technology, PDF DRM can restrict the access and modification of your protected digital documents.

DRM protected PDF files are encrypted to enforce access policies, and once encrypted, DRM rules can be applied to allow or deny specific activities. By creating and using custom DRM rules, you can ensure data security, compliance and governance requirements are met across the enterprise, department, group and even user level. 

Although DRM has been around for several years, it can now be applied in mobile devices through a combination of identity and access management and encryption. Coupled with a protection policy, your PDF DRM-protected content can specify permissions for different users.

Based on the user’s identity, you can grant permissions following the organization’s security policy. You can be assured that PDF DRM stays with the content regardless of where it lies and safeguards it independently of the device, access location and application.

In this regard, you can defend your highly classified data such as commercially sensitive documents, mergers and acquisition plans, customer data, financial credentials, product or service design materials and more. 

As a PDF DRM protected content owner, you are empowered to change or revoke access rights at any given time. You can even set expiry dates so that the protected document is no longer accessible once that date is reached. Given such granular protection rights, PDF DRM is the only proactive solution available to safeguard your data and prevent a data breach.

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