McAfee makes strides in the DRM business with Adobe partnership

On the surface, it might seem that a company whose principal business is malware detection and eradication would eschew the thought of associating itself directly with digital rights management technology. But the job of protecting one's assets in an enterprise setting, more than ever before, directly involves being able to identify to whom an asset belongs.

For that reason -- among some others, as you'll see in a moment -- commercial anti-malware software provider McAfee this morning announced its partnership with Adobe for the distribution of data loss prevention (DLP) technology. DLP is a more politically correct, socially conscious phrase for the category of software that protects data against theft and misuse. In a way, DLP leverages much of the existing technology base that McAfee had already built up for itself for malware detection, including critical patents for data file fingerprinting including this one. Ostensibly, such a patent refers to the ability for an anti-malware program to detect infected files within encrypted and packed structures, especially when the encryption can almost completely obfuscate a Trojan file's signature.

Recent marketing literature for McAfee DLP (PDF available here) refers to its patented technology: "Prevent data loss and leakage without interrupting legitimate business activities, even when data is modified, copied, pasted, compressed, or encrypted."

It's this type of technology that Adobe needs for systems like its LiveCycle ES policy-based document protection system. As we're seeing more frequently, including in the case of enterprise DRM provider Liquid Machines last December, companies needing to use the patented technology are partnering with McAfee directly for distribution deals. What does McAfee get out of it? More channels for distributing its software, such as Discovery DLP for the enterprise and McAfee Security Scan for everyday users, extending its installed base in multiple markets.

And indeed, that's exactly what we're seeing with the Adobe deal this morning. Now everyday users who download Flash Player and Adobe Reader will be offered a free McAfee Security Scan (although Betanews began seeing these download offers from Adobe a few weeks ago). Just two weeks earlier, Adobe began rolling out its Flash Access DRM software, which is its latest DRM server for enterprises that stream their own video content. There's a good chance that a certain encrypted file fingerprinting patent will get some use there too.

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