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Information Rights Management or User Access Management, Which One Is Better?

The current security landscape calls for intensive monitoring and analysis to effectively identify possible threats to applications, systems, and infrastructure. With millions of threats discovered monthly, security experts must revamp and update their cybersecurity measures and tools. One of the challenges they may need to address is choosing between information rights management (IRM) and user access management (UAM).

What Is IRM?

IRM technology directly embeds encryption and user permissions within a file and not around it. It is an extension of the more traditional Microsoft digital rights management (DRM), which aims to secure the file itself. Users can protect files wherever it resides, and even when it is in transit.

As such, IRM has valuable advantages, including:

  • Protection of specific information: IRM can be used to secure high-value information. One application could be when two organizations are negotiating for a merger, and they would need to share highly sensitive information. They can use IRM to protect sensitive files, allowing the information owner to revoke access to anyone at any given time.
  • Regulatory compliance: Organizations must keep important information safe at all times to comply with strict regulatory requirements. Companies can ensure General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance, for instance, with an IP geolocation API. More specifically, it would help them identify the information of European Union (EU) citizens and assign stricter access rules for it.
  • Prevention of accidental exposure: Accidental file sharing by employees is a growing security concern. In recent research commissioned by Egress, around 79% of IT leaders believe employees freely share sensitive data with others. Surprisingly, 92% of employees do not believe they breached company policy when they did so. Around 55% of these employees, in fact, intentionally shared information against company policy and claimed they did not have the necessary tools to do so securely. With IRM, costly human errors can be prevented by putting appropriate document controls in place.

What Is UAM?

UAM, on the other hand, works by providing only accredited users access to specific files that they would need to do their jobs. With an established UAM framework, security professionals can monitor and control access to critical information within the organization. They can adjust access depending on a user's role within the organization. For instance, they can reserve access to critical information for higher-ups only.

IRM Versus UAM, Which Is Better?

For some security experts, IRM is a much better option because UAM can only protect and secure files from known unauthorized users. Problems arise when an authorized user's account is compromised. Attackers can use the stolen credentials of an executive, for instance, to access highly confidential data.

Such was the case when hackers get hold of unpublished financial information and sell or release it outside the compromised organization. Some companies do not even know what hit them until long after when that occurs.

Such events show the importance of securing actual files. Even if these get stolen, they are not as easy to decipher. IRM can further be enhanced by geolocating IPs, that way limiting an authorized user's physical location to his office. In this case, the data owner has the added protection of limiting where it can be opened.

* * *

Security professionals often carry the burden of deciding which security systems and tools to use. More experienced ones know and understand that this depends on the unique needs of their organizations. What is most important is to protect confidential at all costs.

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