Archive for September, 2006

Protecting corporate board materials and confidential information

Board member usage of company confidential material has been a hot topic in the news this month. A recent Bay Area incident involved allegations of intentional redistribution of sensitive information to unauthorized recipients. Even when there are highly trusted and ethical board members and employees, precautions are also important to protect against accidental redistribution of sensitive material.

With laptops being stolen out of houses, cars, offices, cafes, hotels, luggage, etc. – the value of the information on computers can be much more than the resale value of the hardware itself. Not only is protection of the information important while it’s being stored on a laptop – further safeguards should be in place to prevent unintentional redistribution of sensitive information beyond that device.

A common incident is when someone sends confidential information to the wrong person, say through a slip of the email address book and the handy auto-complete addressing feature. Let’s say you know two people with the same name. Do you always visually double-check the domain name to make sure you have the right one? Sometimes this means having to actually click on the name in the To: line to view the address, beyond just the name. Also important to know who is on what mailing lists, internally and externally. That’s a lot of extra effort required on every sensitive email message.

One way to provide added assurances against both intentional and accidental redistribution of sensitive information is to persistently protect the content itself – using enterprise rights management. This technology is independent of storage and transport, applying directly to the content itself. It can be used to restrict access to an electronic document, no matter where it ends up stored on a computer, transported in an email message, CD-ROM, or USB key – inside or outside the company. Enterprise Rights Management can further restrict printing, modifying, and copy/paste once the protected content is open. Expiration and revocation functions can request that access to a document be disabled at a specified time, or even immediately. Audit logs help track who did what to a document, or who tried to do something without permission.

Sensitive information can be protected with Adobe Acrobat on Windows and Mac. Recipients with the free Adobe Reader on Windows, Mac, or Linux can view the PDFs – protected with LiveCycle Policy Server. Support for native Office and CAD documents is available this Fall.

If you are interested in joining other companies using Policy Server to protect their confidential information, you can click here for more information.

Making digital signatures easier to use and deploy with roaming credentials

Acrobat and Reader 8 includes a new “Roaming Credential” feature to make digital signatures easier to use and deploy. Arcot has just announced their SignFort server to utilize this capability.

Digital signatures historically required credential provisioning to desktop clients in the form of software or hardware-based PKI certificates – before a signature could ever be applied. These credentials can be accessed by Acrobat and Reader via PKCS#12 files on disk, or via PKCS#11 libraries and CryptoAPI Crypto Service Providers (CSPs) in Microsoft Windows, or via custom client plug-ins. Both PKCS#11 and CSPs usually require additional 3rd party software libraries to be distributed to the clients for hardware tokens such as smartcards and usb keys. Additionally after the first certificate is issued, they ultimately expire and need to be reguarly renewed at the client by requesting a new certificate from the Certificate Authority. Distributing the additional software and managing client certificates is why some people have referred to PKI as “Painful” Key Infrastructure, instead of Public Key Infrastructure.

The new “Roaming Credential” capability in Acrobat and Reader 8 does not require additional software deployment or credential management (provioning or renewal) on the client to do a digital signature. A new webservice protocol was developed to utilize a product, such as Arcot’s SignFort, to broker the credential management in a centralized server.

When signing a document with roaming credentials, the user clicks a signature field, authenticates, and saves the signed document. That’s it.

The address of the roaming credential server can be specified as a “seed value” preference in the signature field itself, on a per-document basis. Or, the Acrobat and Reader application itself can be configured to use a roaming credential server for all documents, even without seed values on the signature fields of documents.

Authentication is either username/password, Windows kerberos single-sign-on, or the ArcotID.

When the roaming credential service is used, the user authentication is sent to the server along with the hash of the document. The server verifies the authentication and maps to a user’s credential stored on the server, optionally in a Hardware Security Module (HSM). That credential then signs the hash and returns the value to the desktop to be embedded in the document.

This capability is especially useful when sending documents outside an organization’s firewall for business partners and customers to apply digital signatures. As long as those external users already have a supported authenticaiton credential as described above, and have Adobe Acrobat or Reader 8, they can sign a document tied to a roaming credential server without any additional software deployments or configuration on their client.

Acrobat 8 Security

Today, Adobe Systems announced Acrobat 8, enabling business professionals to reliably create, combine, and control Adobe PDF documents for easy, more secure distribution, collaboration, and data collection.

Here’s a preview of some of the new Acrobat security capabilities:

* Native document redaction
* Document inspection (for metadata, attachments, and other potentially hidden information)
* Support for Adobe Online Services
* “Roaming Credential” system for easier digital signature deployments
* Updated user-interface for digital signatures
* Security plumbing updates like SHA256 & SHA512
* and more…

Stay tuned…

Adobe Security Solutions at Oracle OpenWorld 2006

The Adobe Security Solutions Team is scheduled to present at Oracle OpenWorld San Francisco. Session S283319, titled “Using Adobe LiveCycle to Secure and Control documents in Oracle Content Database and Oracle Records Database” will be held in Moscone West Room 2012 from 4:00-5:00pm on Wednesday October 25, 2006.

This session describes a joint Oracle/Adobe solution in which Adobe LiveCycle products provide enterprise rights management, digital signatures, encryption, and security policies to documents stored in Oracle Content Database and Oracle Records Database. The session describes both the problem space and the technology and software architecture applied to address the problem.

Adobe Security Workshop at MAX Conference

At MAX 2006, Adobe will host a workshop on our information assurance architecture that provides persistent security across multiple file formats.

MAX is the annual user conference offering the Adobe community an unprecedented opportunity to learn about Adobe software, interact with industry experts, connect with other Adobe software users, and have lots of fun.

The security workshop will be held Tuesday October 24 at 3pm and Thursday October 26 at 12 Noon at The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.

Registration information is available here.