Review: Adhaero Doc

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Access control comes in many flavors, depending on what you want or don't want users to have access to. Now it's the turn of other documents to get some added protection with Adhaero's business document security solution. This protection extends beyond the network, and documents under its aegis can only be read by authorized eyes. It allows Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook objects to be encrypted, and then assigns digital rights that dictate what can be done to them.

Access control comes in many flavors, depending on what you want or don't want users to have access to. Now it's the turn of other documents to get some added protection with Adhaero's business document security solution. This protection extends beyond the network, and documents under its aegis can only be read by authorized eyes. It allows Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook objects to be encrypted, and then assigns digital rights that dictate what can be done to them.

Installation is in two stages. The installation of the application comes first, and this requires you to enter a 16-character alphanumeric password. This password forms the encryption key for the group with whom you want to share the documents, so it pays to write it down somewhere. You also have to enter a default pass phrase - Adhaero suggests a proper sentence - that users then use to proceed to the second stage of installation. In the second stage, after entering the pass phrase (which you then change), identifying questions and answers have to be entered - rather like online banking - and an author identity code is then required.

This is, perhaps, the one weakness of the product, because in an effort to make it secure, password after password and question after question are required. Most users have trouble remembering a single password, so it will require everything to be written down and held 'securely.' What do you think are the chances of it all being scribbled on a Post-It note and stuck on the side of the user's PC?

Having said that, installation is fairly rapid and painless. The company tells us that if used in Windows 2000 or XP, logon is seamlessly integrated with the Windows login.

Once installed, Adhaero Doc will prompt you with a window the first time you save a document. The default is simply 'protect' - this will encrypt the document that can then only be accessed by someone else in the group. But, the application offers far more security than that. You can specify an access window and you can order it 'shredded' on a certain date. The document can also be set so it cannot be printed, or cannot be copied.

Although a rather niche application, Adhaero Doc allows for tailored collaboration of Office ­ objects, and if you need to share ­ highly sensitive information, it hits the spot.

For:

Adds almost impenetrable security to your Office documents.


Against:

The extensive use of pass phrases and identifying questions leads to a number of points of failure for users with poor memories.


Verdict:

An excellent way of protecting Office documents, Adhaero Doc is ideal in environments where confidential information needs to be shared but also needs to be kept extremely secure.

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