08 Jan Are digital documents currently more secure than physical ones? How about in the future?
All the information provided below is based on personal experience, I believe it makes it more appealing to the reader.
I own an e-ink reader it’s an amazing device, I can keep hundreds of articles and ebooks on it, also it has an excellent battery that lasts long.
Last month my local library started sharing books online. I enrolled and also opened an account with a third party that protects the ebook’s from being copied. It’s called Digital Rights Management. The library allows you to “own” the book for a specific number of days. After the end of that period it expires and is no longer accessible.
I decided to see how long it would take me to remove the protection from the ebook. I knew that it was possible, but had never tried doing so myself.
I downloaded a free ebook management software on my Mac, did some quick research and found an extension for this software that claimed to remove the DRM. All I had to do was drag and drop the file in to that software.
The book was mine to keep. So much for the DRM, I though (The whole process took me less than an hour).
A client of ours wanted to know if they could remove the password from a document (that was in a portable format) and change it’s content. We replied that it would be difficult to do so and that it could destroy the format (to discourage them). However at the end of the day they came back with the solution by themselves. They downloaded a free software and removed
the password. The document was an invoice, they wanted to increase the expense amount.
As for encrypted documents and protection levels, it all depends on the algorithm being used. The digital document may be well protected but secret services or even hackers may find a way to decrypt any document.
Personally I do not believe that digital documents are more secure than physical ones.
I just remembered a case back in the MS-DOS era, about a company that had a single computer hosting the accounting software system. It wasn’t even connected to the LAN! It was locked inside a room and only a designated person had access to it under a strict policy. It seemed like the optimum protection but just imagine the gap of information that this caused due to lack of exchanging information within the company.
I once developed an application for an organization that was collecting
information. They had two networks one for the internet and one for their database system. There was no physical connection between the two networks, I guess you can understand why. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to embed metadata in a biological or quantum state inside a document?
Disclaimer: We are against stealing other people’s intellectual property.