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Authentica To Release Digital-Rights-Management Software Upgrade

Secure Office 2.0 simplifies the process of securing electronic documents.

Authentica Inc. next month will release Secure Office 2.0, a bolstered version of its digital-rights-management software that's designed to simplify the process of securing electronic documents.

Secure Office 2.0 will have improved workflow capabilities, so files shared on networks or sent through E-mail gateways and content-management systems can automatically be protected from unauthorized eyes. The new version also lets customers use a simple interface to add security attributes directly to Microsoft Office documents, such as restricting access and limiting the ability to copy and print documents to authorized people. It alerts readers about protected files and lets them know what limitations were set on them, and it provides the ability to place watermarks on restricted documents that will indicate classifications when they're printed.

In previous versions of Secure Office, users had to create a separate Adobe PDF file before they could assign security attributes to a document. Document security is "now a very seamless part of the Microsoft Office environment," says Mark Overington, VP of marketing for Authentica.

Having evaluated both the upgraded version and previous versions of Secure Office, Authentica customer Rebecca Burr, director of market analysis for programmable-logic device maker Xilinx Inc., concludes that the enhancements are helpful. "It's easier to work with Office documents the way you're used to working with them," Burr says. Xilinx has used Authentca's PageRecall DRM software since March 2003 to protect documents such as the electronic price books it shares with resellers of its products, but hasn't yet committed to purchasing Secure Office.

In previous versions, "you lost the ability to manipulate the data in your spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations" once documents were converted to PDF format, Burr says. "Now you don't lose that work, and you can continue to manipulate or correct information after it's protected if you're the owner of the document."

Authentica isn't the only company offering corporate digital-rights-management software. The field has become crowded recently as Microsoft, Liquid Machines, and Sealed Media introduced rights-management systems. And Adobe is adding enhanced rights-management capabilities to its software.

Rights-management technologies are gaining increasing attention with government regulations regarding data that can create more liabilities for companies, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. A recent study by JupiterResearch predicts that the market for corporate digital-rights management software would climb from $36 million in 2003 to $274 million in 2008.

Authentica Secure Office 2.0 will be available next month and will be priced starting at $50,000.

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