Information Rights Management Is Way Cool !

I have just recieved an email from a client who used Information Rights Management in Outlook that made sure I couldn’t Copy, Print or Forward the contents to anyone else .

It’s  not that he didn’t trust me (really it wasn’t) it’s just that it was easier to use IRM as CYA – send and not worry – ass is covered.

It has been amazing to me how despite being available for several years now and despite all the Security, SOX and Basel issues floating around, the technology in IRM hasn’t been pushed a whole lot harder as a selling point for using MS Office (?)…

You cannot say it’s because it’s not sexy because covering your ass and keeping your job sounds about as sexy as anything I can think of in today’s world.

What a shame.


About Biggus Dickus

Dick is a consultant in London, ON Canada who specializes in Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Office Development.
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15 Responses to Information Rights Management Is Way Cool !

  1. Jayson says:

    I just recently heard about this, and it looks really promising. What I can’t get past is Microsoft’s history in this space. A few years ago, MSFT had a music store. You could buy tunes, they came with DRM, that was the name of the game then. Well 2 years ago, MSFT decided they no longer wanted to run the servers that held all the DRM keys. What did that mean? I could no longer access the music I purchased. I would really like to get on board with IRM, but I would be too afraid that 1) MSFT will start charging me to open my files, 2) MSFT will shut down the servers that hold the file keys.

  2. Dick Moffat says:


    Interesting point (if maybe just a little paranoid 🙂 )…. I’m not tolly sure you have to rely on their servers for confirmation, but I may be wrong.

    Regardless, that’s a risk with every technology isn’t it ?


  3. Jayson says:

    Paranoid? Yeah, I suppose so 🙂

    The music didn’t really bother me that much, as it was only a few songs, but this could affect important files.

    And from MSFT’s IRM details page: “The first time that you attempt to open a document, workbook, or presentation with restricted permission, you must connect to a LICENSING SERVER to verify your credentials and to download a use license.” (emphasis added)

    Paranoia justified? Is it ever? 😉

    • Dick Moffat says:

      Maybe you’re right. What did Woody Allen say (sic) “Just because I’m a paranoid doesn’t mean someobody isn’t following me…” 🙂


  4. Harlan Grove says:

    And if the recipient isn’t using Outlook? Like me, since I use Lotus Notes at work and browser-based e-mail for personal e-mail. The only other e-mail software I use is under Linux.

    Even if it worked flawlessly, as long as Office comes with Microsoft Document Imaging, print screen and either crop the resulting pictures you can copy into other documents, or OCR the screen images. Crude, but much more effective than most security-obsessed people may realize.

    • Jayson says:

      MSFT actually claims that IRM prevents screen shots from being taken (I presume this is only the built in print screen and not that of 3rd parties). It doesn’t, however, prevent one from taking a digital photograph of the screen (yes, they said that!)

      • Dick Moffat says:

        Again as I say – and we could get hit by a meteorite when we step outside too … 😦

        It makes it much less likely that a document will land in the wrong hands and that’s worth something methinks.


  5. Anuj says:

    Hi everyone .. Though MSFT obviously has this it comes with many restrictions i.e. formats have to be MSFT ( outlook, office etc. ) and audit trails are difficult to extract. There are other, better “specialist” solutions in the market for information rights management which are not linked to a particular platform like Seclore, Fasoo and Airzip. In case of Seclore the emails can be opened irrespective of the mail client and documents even open if you have Open Office. Most of these solutions prevent all kinds of screen grabbing including Camtasia etc. and even Webex / Gotomeeting etc. The other difference is in the pricing .. as always for MSFT the ubiquitious CAL is there .. in most other cases the licenses is there only for the sender and the receiver licenses is free.

    • Dick Moffat says:

      Great stuff !! And totally true !!

      Your argument is like so many others who understand that there are technologies other than those from Microsoft on the market. More often than not they are better solutions (have to be to compete at all) but unfortunately for them they aren’t from Microsoft 🙂 …. Regardess of the advantages of other technologies this is available within Office and if all users of a company have Office then this wil just work for them – no extra CALS etc.

      We have a saying in Canada “It’s better than a kick in the ass with a frozen boot!” I guess that applies here – it just may be “good enough” :-).


  6. JP says:

    I wonder about the legal implications of IRM. It reminds me of those email disclaimers you constantly see at the bottom of everyone’s email. If you don’t want me to copy, print or forward your email, don’t send it to me, because once you send it out, it’s no longer yours to control.

    • Dick Moffat says:

      Yeah that’s just common-sense – what’s wrong with you ?? If you’re a Governamce, SOX and Security Nazi then it would make sense in yet another CYA kinda way. If we HAVE to manage this crap then I can’t help but think that IRM’s better than nuttin’ (??)


  7. Harlan Grove says:

    One more wrinkle, even if it would be limited to the US: would IRM restrictions prevent screen reading software from converting protected e-mail into audible speech for blind users? If so, it’d be an ADA lawsuit in waiting. If not, then if screen readers can read IRM protected e-mail, I find it difficult to believe no other software could.

  8. Simon says:

    If people want to include me in cover yer arse stuff they generally phone me!

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