Software Metrics Puts Digital Fingerprint on Documents

A company learns that a competitor has obtained a critical internal document, and gets a photocopy of the leaked document. Or, a confidential internal document winds up on the floor of the company cafeteria. Both situations could lead to difficult internal investigations to find the source of the problems.

A new tool from a network print management company can help administrators track down the culprit faster and with less effort.

Software Metrics Inc. (www.metrics.com) plans to ship Secure Printing Suite 1.0 next month. Among the security modules of SPS 1.0 is one from an Israeli firm, Aliroo Inc. (www.aliroo.com), that puts a "digital fingerprint" on documents.

Aliroo’s technology allows regular printers to insert several dot patterns on a document. The print is so light as to be practically invisible to the naked eye, and the pattern placement is random. "People will not know that this is happening," says Chris Trojanowski, Software Metrics’ vice president for marketing and sales.

With the document in hand, administrators can determine who printed it. By feeding the page into a scanner, the Aliroo software recognizes the pattern and translates it into a unique number that Software Metrics calls the "Global Print Job ID." If administrators can’t get there hands on the original print out, Trojanowski says the pattern also shows up on photocopies of the document.

An administrator would then cross-reference the ID against another module of SPS, a central database of Global Print Job IDs. For each print job ID the database reveals the username that ordered the print job, the workstation the job came from, the job date, the document size and the filename.

Another module in SPS helps administrators archive critical documents to prevent and track tampering. With that module, an administrator can detect a user who tries to print a confidential company document by changing its name. The feature is memory intensive as it involves copying versions of all print jobs prior to printing.

The module was designed for use with only highly confidential documents or suspected security risks, Trojanowski says. A security administrator must use a configuration wizard to select specific documents, groups and users to monitor through archiving. "Let’s say an employee is about to leave the company, they will start selectively archiving on this gentleman," Trojanowski says.

The product contains one other security module, Secure Document Release, which allows secure print jobs to execute when the user who ordered the job arrives at the printer. Software Metrics offers a choice of a password, magnetic card or administrator assistance to allow the continuation of the print job.

SPS is built on top of Printer Accounting Server 2.0, Software Metric’s main network print management product, which was updated in November. The customers that Software Metrics intends to target for the suite include military, intelligence and other government agencies, companies at high risk for industrial espionage and companies in merger talks whose employees could benefit from illegal insider trading.

Bob Fennell, principal analyst for printers at Dataquest (www.dataquest.com), says SPS has some unique features that customers will value, but the company must tread carefully. The major printer companies bundle print management software and have large budgets to dominate emerging areas of the market. "For Software Metrics, what partnerships they form and who they align themselves with is key," Fennell says.

Software Metrics Inc. will ship Secure Printing Suite 1.0 next month. The main features include the following:

  • Print job tracking and auditing through stored attributes and a unique global ID.
  • Secure document release via printer site control with choice of NT password ID, magnetic card or administrator assistance.
  • Original document archiving to prevent tampering and counterfeiting.
  • Document fingerprinting for sensitive document identification and tracking.