P2P RMS using Office 2003 and MS Passport


Windows Rights Management Services (RMS) is a technology that allows critical information to be protected consistently throughout the content lifecycle. Traditionally, information has been protected by restricting access to it. RMS can be considered as an augmenting technology that embeds the access and usage information in the document itself. So no matter where the content resides, the protection stays with the content. There have been a number of enterprises that are using RMS to help secure their enterprise content like emails, documents and internal web content.

But that doesn’t mean that only large enterprises can utilize the value of RMS. There are several scenarios in which small businesses or even individuals can use the functionality of RMS. I am going to outline a few of these scenarios and then show how these users can utilize the IRM – Information Rights Management (RMS implementation by Office 2003) to enable secure collaboration.

Scenario 1 – Small Business

Partner is a small research firm that specializes in market research for certain verticals. All employees at Partner have Microsoft Office 2003 Pro installed which they use for authoring and collaboration features. Every month, Partner releases a market report which goes out to its subscribers (around 20). Since this is a high-value intellectual property, Partner wants to ensure that the content is accessible to only its registered subscribers and is not forwarded or distributed to unauthorized parties.

Scenario 2 – Freelancer

Matt is a freelance presentation designer. He designs presentations for special occasions and is frequently recruited by individual and agencies to design custom presentations. Matt has noted that lately few of his presentations are being sold on the web as design templates by unscrupulous entities. He wants to ensure that his clients use the presentation for their own purpose and that the content expires after 2 months.

The above scenarios (and many more) can be enabled without having to deploy (or be part of) an enterprise RMS solution. All you need is Microsoft Office 2003 Professional and a Microsoft Passport account. Here is a step-by-step process for enabling IRM scenarios

Create a document/email using Word/Excel/Powerpoint/Outlook (Office 2003 Professional) as you normally would

  1. Once the content is created, click on the Permissions button on the standard toolbar (it has a red Do Not Enter (-) sign)
  2. A Wizard will pop-up asking you to select your credentials. Since you are not an enterprise user, select the Passport option (note that this is a one-time process per machine)
    1. You will be prompted to enter your passport sign-on information (Note: If you do not have a Passport account, you can sign-up for one)
    2. After you have signed on, you will be certified as a valid user for that Passport account
  3. You can then use the IRM functionality in office to send protected content to any other user. You can use the More Options (Not available in Outlook) tab to set more granular permissions (like content expiry, specific rights, etc). If the recipients do not have a passport account, they would need to go get a Passport for their email address.
  4. If the recipients do not have Office 2003, they can download the RMS addon for IE, which allows users to read RMS content inside the browser.

So if you have Office 2003 Pro, do give RMS a try. It is a different way of securing information. And do let us know how your experience with RMS was.

Mayur Kamat, Program Manager


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