Workshare – Creating the Most Secure PDF?

Written By:
Content Copyright © 2007 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

I am always impressed when a vendor is brave enough to claim they are the biggest/brightest/strongest/most secure as they immediately become a target to be shot down in flames by another vendor who happens to be the biggest/brightest/strongest/most secure by another measure.

So it was interesting to talk with Workshare and find out more about their claims to be able to create the “most secure PDF”. Like many people I assumed (incorrectly as I now know) that creating a PDF was a pretty reasonable way of securing a document before sending it out to someone. Yes, I know that a 30 second search on Google will soon reveal technology to reverse engineer such a file but for some reason I thought that most people simply wouldn’t bother.

Anyway, sending out a PDF has got to be miles better than sending across a Word document for all and sundry to see.

I have been ranting on about the Inside Threat organisations face for a while now. The notion is that you face two types of threat—the incompetent and non-malicious vs. the competent and malicious. The former are more likely to send out the internal price list accidentally whereas the latter would do it out of spite or to further their career in their new company as they are just about to hand in their notice.

To mitigate such threats it makes sense to secure documents at the end point, and have the processes in place to make this as transparent and seamless to the poor hapless user as possible. After all, if security is so important organisations are duty bound to provide the supporting tools and technologies to support their users.

Workshare, founded in 1999 and now with a claimed 6000+ customers, have an interesting solution in their Workshare Professional product, of which version 5.0 was announced recently.

An administrator can setup users and roles within an organisation that forces the automatic conversion of a document to a PDF format which can then be secured using technology from PGP, one of Workshare’s partners. A good example may be your legal department that needs to be able to send documents that are automatically protected under the hood, stopping users having to mess around with creating their own PDF files which, after all, are going to be insecure anyway. The Workshare product can also examine the text in a file and settings can be configured so that if the word “confidential” is found the document cannot be sent outside of the organisation.

The product integrates with Microsoft Office 2007 and enables you to use it without coming out of your copy of Word or whatever you happen to be using at the time.

So, will Workshare be successful with version 5.0? Well, if their claim to be so secure holds water then they probably will be. After all, we all need as much help as possible to control our inside threat and this could be just the ticket for many organisations.