Some enterprises may not see the need for document security beyond a Document Management System (DMS).  They may think that they have all the control they will ever need in terms of securing their files and controlling their use.  However, as has been demonstrated time and time again, you can never be too sure.  So, as the owner of an enterprise, you have to be vigilant in protecting your files, whether they are made available internally or externally.

But, why would anyone need anything above and beyond a DMS?  The truth is that a DMS is quite useful in bringing together new documents, but, when it comes to security, it falls short.  A typical example is when people bring their smartphones, tablets, and laptops to work.  If they work with a secure document in the office with such devices and then walk out of the building without deleting the files, it could cause a problem.

What if it did not matter whether they copied the files to their devices and took them home?  What if your controls could extend to their devices wherever they may be?  This is possible by integrating your DMS with Digital Rights Management (DRM). In this way, you can automate document protection the moment the file is generated and ensure that it remains protected during its full lifecycle.

For one, if your document is DRM protected, you can set up document protection by location.  So, you can set it up so that documents can only be accessed when they are at the office premises.  Doing so will ensure that when an employee wants to access a file when they are in the office, access is granted, but if they take the document home with them and try to open it there, then access will be denied.

Secondly, an employee who has been let go may harbor some resentment and seek to harm the company. The easiest way for him or her to do that would be to steal classified documents and sell them to a well-paying buyer, such as a competitor.  He or she will then be able to get back at you while earning some extra cash.  To prevent this, it would be wise to revoke all the employee’s access, even before getting to the point of firing him or her.  A DMS system will not allow you to do this, leaving you vulnerable.  Luckily, DRM controls enable you to do this and by just revoking the user you can prevent access to all documents they were previously authorized to use.

Also, a DMS can only control what stays in the internal servers and databases.  This means that, if rules and regulations state that particular documents must be deleted after a certain period, the DMS has no way of enforcing this.  Of course, you can remove the files from the internal servers yourself.  However, who will delete the copies on phones and tablets?  Chances are that the owner of such a device already forgot the file is saved on it or backed it up to another device where it could be restored at any time.  This could have some legal consequences. Fortunately, DRM has the power to reach into these devices and “effectively delete” them by expiring access.  By effectively deleting the file, the DRM will not physically remove it, but will instead make it unusable.

Documents inside the DMS can be set to expire, but DRM ensures they will expire no matter where they reside – even backup copies will no longer be usable.  Also, DRM normally provides more expiry options than just a fixed date, which may not be appropriate if you want to give a user a couple of weeks use of a document but don’t know when they will first open it.

Finally, not every document is intended for every employee.  Some are only intended to be accessed by the executives or certain groups of people.  DRM will ensure that you can easily select who gets access and who does not for each file and control what authorized users can do with the document.  For example, you may want some users to be able to print it but not others or audit some users use to see when they viewed the document or printed it.


You can decide whether you want to integrate your DMS with DRM controls.  This would depend on how much you value your document security and the potential risks you face in your industry.  It is, nonetheless, not a secret that some people might seek to do you harm by using your data and using DRM ensures you are always prepared for that eventuality.