Tethering is another ECM approach that ratchets up content security. With tethering, the content always resides in the original repository, which can be secured so the content never actually leaves. A prime example is YouTube. People can access, view and embed a YouTube video on their blogs or websites, but the content assets always stays on YouTube's server. Today, we can apply the same technology to content residing in a secure repository in an enterprise. This way, the content assets can be shared as needed, without ever having to leave the high-security confines of an enterprise content management repository.
Rights management and tethering are excellent tools in a good content management system. But a more fundamental issue for enterprises is a firm grasp of information organisation. If your content is well organised, there is a much lesser chance that something will leak out - and leak out undetected. Most organisations have non-disclosure policies, emphasising the secrets that shouldn't shared. But having your information well-organised and well-structured is the key. If you have information all over the place and lots of duplicate data, that's the worst possible scenario if you are concerned about security or winding up as a WikiLeaks victim.
Resolving a Leak
What if your best intentions aren't enough? What if you see your company's name along with some heretofore closely guarded secret splashed on the front page of the New York Times as the victim of a security leak? What then? Once the genie is out of the bottle, you cannot put it back, so you have to look at your options. Possibly, you can take legal steps to contain the problem or leverage your own public relations to clarify its context.
But what is far more important is preventing a leak from ever occurring again. That starts with tracing the leak back to where it originated. This is where content management and the principles of information governance come into play. One of ECM's key features is its ability to have a consistent, centralised log of all events - an audit trail. It is a very good way to trace back how the particular content asset or document got out, who opened it and where it wound up. With a good ECM system in place, you can create the framework to prevent this kind of leak in the future. Even if your enterprise never suffers the indignity of a security leak, aiming to protect your content has the very real side benefit of solid information governance.
The drive to expose secrets has always been with us, though the methods of dissemination are new. We don't know how long WikiLeaks will be around - not long if some governments have their way and are successful in shutting it down. But individuals or organisations abusing confidential information certainly won't go away. Since Internet facilitates the mass dissemination of information in the blink of an eye, enterprises would be remiss in not preparing for the worst. Digital information has undisputed productivity benefits, but also some liabilities. Content management needs to be part of the infrastructure, part of the DNA of a company to successfully deal with the possible dangers, like WikiLeaks.
Lubor Ptacek is vice president of product marketing for OpenText.
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