By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2005-06-27 Print this article Print

If there is such a thing as a classic rights management platform, then Authenticas Active Rights Management would qualify.

Like many older DRM (digital rights management) products, Active Rights Management eschews standard browser-based management and instead uses multiple, sometimes confusing, Windows-based GUI administration consoles. However, also like any good old-school product, it accommodates the many companies that are likewise still heavily reliant on legacy technologies and platforms with excellent support for and integration with many products on both the content-creation and the server-integration sides.

While Active Rights Management, which saw several upgrades in March, may look a little long in the tooth, it provides many cutting-edge features that make it possible for a company to touch and audit all areas of content creation, viewing and distribution.

Click here to read reviews of three other rights management applications. The core piece of the Authentica platform is the Policy Server, which runs only on Windows. Installation and configuration of the Policy Server proved simple, and, when it came time to integrate with user directories, the Policy Server was a champ: The server easily integrates with LDAP servers, RSA Security Inc. SecurID servers and even older Windows NT user directories. Its also possible to add and manage users directly on the Policy Server.

Weve never been fond of GUI consoles that are heavily Windows-based, and the Policy Servers interface did nothing to make us feel different. We had to jump from console window to console window far too many times to perform tasks, such as adjusting group policy settings, that could have been done in a single window or in a step-based wizard.

Still, after a little while, we were able to manage any aspect of our Policy Server with minimal trouble. We could define content permissions based on groups or authentication domain. We could also define watermarks; viewing, printing and editing rights; protection options; and lease durations for offline viewing. The product also offers extensive options for creating policy templates.

On the client content side, Authentica offers several tools for controlling rights to created content. (Since eWEEK Labs began testing the ARM platform, some components names have been changed: MailRecall has changed to Secure Mail, and PageRecall has changed to Secure Documents.)

Secure Office 2.01 works on top of Microsoft Office 2000, XP or 2003 to provide rights controls for content created in Word, Excel or PowerPoint. Once installed, Secure Office 2.01 added a menu item to our Office applications. From this menu option, we could log in to the Policy Server and control document rights through server-based templates or restrictions set by a user or group.

Secure Office 2.01 worked well for the most part, but we did run into a few problems, especially when using Office applications built-in security features, such as Excels workbook protection. Administrators should refer to Secure Offices well-documented known-issues list to head off potential problems.

Active Rights Managements PageRecall feature does for users of Adobe Acrobat 6.0 or 7.0 what Secure Office does for Microsoft Office users. PageRecall adds a PageRecall menu item to the Acrobat menu bar, which allows users to protect documents through defined policy templates or through ad hoc policies that provide some limited protection options. PageRecall worked well during our tests, but it doesnt integrate with existing security features in Acrobat and does not support Acrobat on the Mac OS.

MailRecall 3.1 adds rights management capabilities to Microsoft Outlook and IBM Lotus Notes through—you guessed it—a MailRecall menu item. We liked how MailRecall also added a Send MailRecall button to various mail client windows when we replied to, forwarded or opened an e-mail message. This let us quickly and easily control whether a mail message would expire after a set date, if it could be viewed offline for a time, or if users could print it or copy text from it.

Also included in MailRecall is a Web browser utility called Web Viewer that makes it possible for users on platforms other than Outlook and IBM Lotus Notes to view protected content in their Web browsers (either Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla-based browsers).

Another server component of Active Rights Management is Authentica Secure Gateway 4.2. One of the main functions of Authentica Secure Gateway is to enable automated rights management based on controls and filters in e-mail security and management tools, including Clearswift Ltd.s MailSweeper, Trend Micro Inc.s InterScan Messaging Security Suite and Tumbleweed Communications Corp.s Secure Mail. Authentica Secure Gateway also enables automated rights management on content posted on Web server and networked folders through predefined templates and policies.

Pricing for Active Rights Management depends on client platforms and user volume. Prices start at $25,000, which includes 200 users on one of the client platforms (SecureOffice, PageRecall or MailRecall).

Next page: Evaluation Shortlist: Related Products.

Jim Rapoza, Chief Technology Analyst, eWEEK.For nearly fifteen years, Jim Rapoza has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category for eWEEK. Mr RapozaÔÇÖs current technology focus is on all categories of emerging information technology though he continues to focus on core technology areas that include: content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security. Mr. Rapoza has coordinated several evaluations at enterprise organizations, including USA Today and The Prudential, to measure the capability of products and services under real-world conditions and against real-world criteria. Jim Rapoza's award-winning weekly column, Tech Directions, delves into all areas of technologies and the challenges of managing and deploying technology today.

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