One of the important things people want these days is security for their documents. Not only do people want to be able to digitally sign the documents they send out, they also want that the receiving party has restrictions on what they can do with these documents. This is where Information Rights Management (IRM) comes in. And creating such documents is very easy if you're using Office 2007 and Vista. However, even if you're using Windows XP/2003 and an older version of MS Office you can still do this. Simply download and install the XPS Toolkit. Once you do, you will have a new XPS "printer" that you can print documents to that will save as files with the extension .XPS. Anyone who needs to view the file will also need to install the same toolkit. This is similar to having Adobe Reader or Foxit Reader to read .PDF files. Anyway, let's now see how you can secure and sign a document that you need to send to, say a vendor, but you do not wish him to copy or print it, only view it.
First create your document in any application. I'm using Word 2007 since that can create XPS files directly.
Save the file as an XPS file.
Double click the file to open in the XPS Viewer (embedded in Internet Explorer)
Click the Permissions button on the top, and when prompted sign in with your Passport account. Once done, you will get this dialog box. click on Apply Permissions and add users by their passport accounts or by adding "Everyone". Select the permissions you wish to give each user.
You can now add a digital certificate (if you have one installed on your system for your name/email) by clicking the Digital Signatures | Sign This Document. Follow the prompts, select the certificate to use and finally sign the file with this dialog box.
The XPS viewer should show you the two yellow bars on top that show you that the document is restricted as well as signed.
Email the document, say first to yourself. Open it on a different machine to check it out. Save the attachment and try to open it. You will get the following error.
Close this box and right click the XPS file and select properties. In the General tab, click the "Unblock" button to allow the content to be viewed.
Now double click the file to open it in the viewer. You will be prompted for your Passport account information. Sign in and follow the prompts. Once complete, you will be able to see the final document - this time with restrictions enabled. For instance, if you have not given Copy rights, you will be unable to select and copy any content in the document. In fact, even the Print Screen button is disabled in this mode.
So here is a quick summary:
- You can use XPS to both Sign as well as Secure your documents
- You can use Office 2007 and Vista to natively use XPS
- You can use any application and Windows XP/2003 with the XPS Toolkit to do this too
- The people you send the document to must have both the XPS Toolkit as well as a Passport account to work with the document
- The restrictions can allow you to stop copy, print screen, print, and email of the content of your document
So go ahead and use this great feature to protect and sign your document form today itself.