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What is Rights Management Services?

By Jesse | February 18, 2009

Rights Management Services is a technology product sold by microsoft that allows users to protect their documents with a set of digital access rights. The original product was created for use with Windows Server 2003 with API’s for Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Vista.  In version 2.0 of RMS also known as ADRMS, RMS is now a role in Windows Server 2008.

Rights Management Services allows you to protect sensitive information by allowing the original document owner to easily assign “use rights” to the document.  I call RMS “in-use” protection which is unlike Transport encryption such as SSL or PGP and also unlike ACL type restrictions.

In other words, I can create a word document and email it to you and give you “view-only” rights.  When you get the email, you will not be able to print the document, copy text out of it, or edit it.   RMS even blocks print screen! Pretty neat stuff.

The rights you can assign include “view only”, “print”, “copy”,”save and edit”, or “full control”.  These are pretty self-explanatory so I wont go over them in detail, but basically you can assign these rights to any email, Word doc, Excel doc, or  PowerPoint doc.

This is a very useful technology, but what happens if you have Blackberries in your environment?  or what happens if you have other files types you want to protect like PDF?   Ah ha! well, that’s where GigaTrust comes in.  GigaTrust, based in Herndon, VA has created a complementary line of products that extends the Microsoft RMS platform to other file types including PDF, Visio, CAD/CAM, JPG, and hundreds more.   In addition, they also protect messages sent from the Blackberry and enable the Blackberry to view protected content while still enforcing the original rights.

Very cool stuff GigaTrust! Here’s a post from MS Technet about them too.. If MS is behind them it must be good stuff.

Blackhawk Consulting can provide expert deployment services for native Rights Management Services- We can develop your deployment strategy, can recommend products like GigaTrust, and can design an architecture that fills your RMS service needs.

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