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Document Security with Virtual Viewer Ajax

by | Feb 10, 2011

Security is defined as the degree of protection against danger, damage, and loss. There are currently hundreds of document security companies around the world today with thousands of document security products available. But how many of these products protect the document once it is outside its “protective zone”? How many of these products can provide security against the danger of theft? How many can offer protection against damage once the document is exposed to the outside world? And how many can prevent the loss of that document and ensure it remains safe and sound in the document repository?

Imagine the average travel of a document from a safe and secure location on your file system to an end user’s machine. Most typical document security protocols ensure the safety of the repository and documents themselves, much like a home is safe for a child. But what if that child left the home, how secure are they now without the protection their home provides? Once your document leaves your file system it is vulnerable to outside threats such as document theft, unauthorized duplication or even document tampering. Companies must make every effort to secure the documents we entrust with them, the documents they manage for us and documents they provide for us as part of their services.  Document and data security is especially important in industries such as healthcare, insurance and financial services due to the access they have to detailed personal information.

Most documents once they leave the home, or document management system, are delivered to a viewer so the end user can access the information they need from that document. The issue here is the security of that document while it is sent to that viewer and while it is on display in that viewer. When viewing documents, most viewers download either part of or the entire document for the user. These viewers are clients that run on windows, local desktops as applets, or embedded within (or as part of) another application. These viewers are guilty of leaving the document vulnerable. What is happening behind the scenes is that the document is being cached on end user machines in places like the JVM or on disk. In fact that document could be stored several times and in several locations depending on the viewer used to display it. This process makes the document available to the user after the viewer no longer has the document in display. The user can now access the file without any security protocols and worse of all they have the ability to alter or send the document anywhere they want. This is not to say that all users have malicious intentions. Even if you trust the user base accessing these documents, there could be other factors to take into consideration. The host machine could get a virus, other people may have access to that machine, and the computer viewing that document could be compromised in one way or another leaving the file unprotected.

Snowbound Software’s VirtualViewer AJAX is addressing this issue by providing a level of security to your document once it’s left its repository. The solution is to eliminate the footprint of that document or image anywhere on the end user’s computer, not only while it is on display in the VirtualViewer client, but also after the viewer has finished with the file. The way this is achieved is though the viewer itself. The document requested is retrieved from the document management system and then temporarily converted to a browser friendly format like .PNG or .JPEG. That formatted document is what is loaded into VirtualViewer and is what the end users will view on screen. The VirtualViewer client requires only some available memory and a browser from the end user’s computer in order to run. The image does not have to be cached, saved or recorded anywhere on that end users’ computer hard drive or browser. Once the viewer is no longer displaying the file it will vanish from the end users’ machine leaving no traces whatsoever. This is what provides the level of security for those documents because the original file itself has never left its safe and secure home – providing Snowbound customers with peace of mind.

Ed Berberian