What Is digital rights management (DRM) for healthcare, finance, legal and other non-media enterprises?

No-nonsense DRM explainer for non-media enterprises

Digital rights management (DRM), also known as information rights management (IRM), is a systematic approach to controlling the use or dispersal of digital content by end users. We often hear the term used in discussions about the music, film and video game industries, where publishers prevent unauthorized sharing, copying and re-publishing of their content. But what exactly is DRM for healthcare, legal, finance, insurance and other non-media enterprises?

In the finance, insurance, healthcare, manufacturing and services industries, DRM refers more specifically to a system for controlling how sensitive internal documents, contracts or even emails, are shared internally and externally with partners, clients and media outlets. DRM solutions in these industries often allow IT, risk managers and users to apply access restrictions to documents, files and data that prevent something from being shared by an unintended recipient, or prevent recipients from copying a document, sharing it beyond the originating enterprise’s control, taking screenshots and so on.

Why should DRM be a part of a CSO/CIO/CTO’s security strategy?

It’s critical because it allows an organization to set unbreakable policies for how sensitive documents can be shared with outside agents, reducing the likelihood of insider theft, leaks and accidental dispersion of IP or customer data. Most negative data incidents stem from accidents by staff (sending an email to the wrong person, accidentally leaving a cloud drive open to the public) or insider theft and leaks. DRM directly addresses those concerns.

Real-world example of DRM

A simple example of enterprise DRM (eDRM) in action is:

  1. A salesperson creates a SOW that contains valuable IP and information about internal processes, pricing and so on.
  2. Before sharing the SOW, the salesperson or IT “wraps” the file with DRM and configure access controls to protect the information.
  3. In this example, the salesperson/IT makes it so that:
    • Only the intended recipient can open and view the file
    • The SOW cannot be printed, copied, and screenshots of the SOW cannot be taken
    • Access to the file expires after a set amount of time
    • The file can only be accessed in the geographic location of the intended recipient
    • The SOW cannot be shared with any parties besides the intended recipient.
  4. The intended recipient receives the file and opens it. He or she attempts to forward it on to one of the sending enterprise’s competitors to lower an alternate bid for work. The DRM that’s wrapped around the SOW prevents this, and prevents other kinds of sharing the recipient attempts.

How to choose a DRM solution

DRM solutions come in many different shapes and sizes. Some only allow admins and users to protect specific file formats, while others are file-format agnostic. Many have varying levels of how granular DRM controls go. Some may only allow admins to establish a blacklist of questionable recipients, while others prevent a document, folder or mass of data from being sent to the wrong email domain.

Which DRM solution you choose depends largely on how you intend to use it and what types of information and files you need to protect. To learn more about how to choose the best DRM solution for your healthcare, legal, finance, manufacturing or services enterprise, download our whitepaper above.

Get Our DRM Buyer's Guide