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Microsoft locks down intellectual property

Microsoft today released Windows Rights Management Services, a security component for Windows Server 2003 that aims to protect enterprise intellectual property.

Microsoft today is making available a security component of Windows Server 2003 that aims to help IT administrators seeking ways to control intellectual property within an enterprise.

The Windows Rights Management Services are designed to help customers get a better handle on the location of sensitive digital information, the identity of the people accessing that data and the way the material is being distributed.

The release of the service is part of a larger trend toward distributed content management and the desire to control that information, said Pete Lindstrom, research director at Spire Security, a Malvern, Pa., consulting firm.

Sensitive data is traditionally secured on a host system, and IT staff and other managers generally assume they know where such data is. "But today, security has to travel with data and be persistent, because we really don't know where that data will end up," Lindstrom said.

The entertainment industry is waging a public struggle over the control of digital data, but it's not something most enterprises have yet had to tackle. Still, there are many instances where an enterprise would want to control documents, including within human resources departments, or wherever there is time-sensitive information, such as an earnings announcement or data that requires a series of approvals.

The new Microsoft services are also designed to help manage data more explicitly so there are no competing or redundant versions, he said.

The significance of digital rights management is becoming more apparent as Web services catch on and information becomes increasingly distributed. It creates a situation where data is ubiquitous and on demand, and therefore harder to control, Lindstrom said.

Right now, applications must be RMS-enabled for the services to work. Microsoft is working with industry partners to develop compatible applications. Microsoft Office System 2003 represents the first set of RMS-ready applications to come from Microsoft.


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