Many organizations experience problems with employees leaking confidential information, accidentally or intentionally. Nevertheless, current identity and access management solutions focus on authorizations and access but provide little protection against insider and privilege misuse.
# Insider and privilege misuse
Setting up identity and access management properly should always be in place to ensure controlled access to systems and information. Yet measures should not confine to protecting access.
current identity and access management solutions provide little protection against insider and privilege misuse
Once someone is authenticated and authorized they are free to use and misuse their access rights. Access control does not guarantee confidentiality of printed documents nor does it enforces proper use of files send to private email inboxes and cloud services. To that end, better solutions are needed. Digital fingerprints
Ideally, something should be implemented that marks all digital properties with digital fingerprints; similar to how we - in the physical world - leave fingerprints on things we touch. Imagine how this would work in the digital world. Imagine a digital fingerprint that stores information about someone’s identity. Imagine how this would help to track the owner and recipient of the document!
A digital fingerprint improves awareness and provides an infallible way to identify an individual
The digital fingerprint would provide an organization with strategic advantages. On the one hand it improves awareness, preventing negligence. On the other hand, a fingerprint provides an infallible way to identify an individual in case of actual document leakage.
The miraculous technology that makes this possible is known as steganography. This is the art of hiding a piece of information such that it keeps hidden from everyone except the intended sender and recipient. Most well known is hiding secret messages in pictures.
Steganography has been used for a wide variety of solutions throughout the history. During the Second World War the Nazis used microdots to communicate securely: very small dots invisible for the human eye holding secret information, only readable using a microscope. Also remarkable, some high quality printers print barely visible yellow dots, containing encoded serial numbers and timestamps. It is used to trace counterfeiters. Moreover, films are often protected using Coded Anti-Piracy: an invisible overlay marking films for identifying the source of illegal copies.
The Nazis used microdots to communicate securely
Steganography has stood the test of time and can still be of great use.
# Embrace fingerprints to protect your assets
Implementing a digital fingerprinting system in an existing infrastructure does not have to be complex. One could implement the system as a piece of middleware marking documents once they get downloaded from the intranet. Alternatively, the solution can be implemented on a mail-server when processing attachments. In both cases the document owner is known to the system processing the digital document and stamping a digital fingerprint is plain simple.
Now, a fraudster would have a hard time moving your documents outside the protected business environment without leaving a trace behind.
In the physical world, forensic researchers greatly benefit from the fact that we leave fingerprints everywhere we go, on everything we touch. It is time for something similar in the digital world! It is time to consider embracing digital fingerprints to protect your assets.