vaticanJoe Moriarty is executive vice president of global sales and marketing at Content Raven.

It’s incredible to witness the secrecy the papal conclave is able to maintain in an era of over-sharing, data breaches, social postings and texting addictions.  No encryption, beyond what is captured in thousands of years of doctrine that forbids communication with the outside world and only provides updates via smoke signals – arguably more archaic than the carrier pigeon.

Why is it, then, with all of our encryption tools and safety nets, virus protection and firewalls, and all types of security software, that breaches still happen?

Well, unlike the meeting of cardinals to select the next pope, IT managers and CIOs can’t lock employees in a secluded room without access to high-speed Wi-Fi (though they likely wish they could at times). And in an era when even the clergy are carrying high-performance smart phones, trends like BYOD make it almost impossible to keep a company’s secret sauce from walking out the door and falling into the wrong hands — especially when an employee leaves their iPhone on the subway.

Sharing content has become an integral part of the way that business gets done. However, it is not without its risks. For enterprise-level organizations, distributing rich media content can make it challenging to maintain data security. While most organizations want to use technology to disseminate important information, the simple act of sharing can expose them to major security breaches.

Are breaches preventable? The answer: Yes.

Through a secure system that confers the ability to distribute and track what users are doing with content, control access to the appropriate versions, and immediately turn off or expire access to content remotely, the enterprise can exert complete control over shared content.

Best of all, you don’t need smoke signals.

Collaborating like it’s 1276

The first papal conclave happened eons ago, yet to this day, the cardinals have managed to keep leaks about its proceedings to a minimum.

However, when an employee attempts to embrace the efficiencies of online tools to share data, it’s as if a voting member of the clergy invites his second cousin from The National Enquirer to sit on the proceedings. Chances are, the more people you interact with online, the more likely you are to see proprietary data slip into the wrong hands.

Content collaboration tools on the market today such as SharePoint, Adobe IRM and Dropbox create a secure online environment in which people can share files and manage projects. These solutions secure the area around the content; in other words, they wrap access rights around the content to ensure that it can only be viewed by authorized users. What these tools don’t provide is insight into how the content is being consumed or control over what users can do with it (e.g., forward, modify, copy/paste, export, print, etc.).

In other words, content control ends the moment you press “send.”

Protecting content for outbound distribution requires a different approach. It requires protecting the content itself, not just access to the environment in which it resides. In the past, some content collaboration solution providers tried to extend the content control to outbound distribution, but these efforts failed because the technology was too onerous to end users, requiring software installation and heavy infrastructure, which prevented them from being widely adopted.

Today, new content distribution control technologies are emerging that can provide greater content protection than ever before. Some solutions, for example, don’t even require software installation by content recipients, encouraging seamless adoption while giving senders complete control. Other tools even allow senders to terminate access to content remotely when content falls into the wrong hands, all without any help from the Almighty.

There’s a lot we can learn from what’s happening in Vatican City: Lock it down, control distribution, and collaborate with care.

Joe Moriarty is executive vice president of global sales and marketing at Content Raven, which provides content distribution and control through the cloud, with usage analytics, to mobile and other devices focused on rich media. Companies around the world, including EMC, Gryphon Networks, and Waters, use Content Raven to control how their outbound content is consumed and managed. Content Raven is headquartered in Marlborough, MA.

photo credit: Pierre Metivier via photopin cc