Startup brings digital rights mgmt. to iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows Phone

Startup Watchful Software says it's reviving the technology known as digital rights management (DRM) by expanding it beyond traditional platforms like Microsoft Windows PCs and bringing it to mobile devices such as iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows Phone.

The firm's RightsWatch product out this week builds on top of Microsoft's Active Directory Rights Management Services technology but extends it to non-Microsoft platforms and also seeks to make it easier to use, according to Charles Foley, CEO of the Medford, N.J.-based startup. "Microsoft has magnificent plumbing but not necessarily great bathrooms and kitchens," he says.

[ IN THE NEWS: Security of open-source software again being scrutinized ]

RightsWatch is said to provide a way to determine and set restrictions on access to documents through various means, including key words that can be determined and enforced as a kind of data-loss prevention method.

"When information is created, it's classified," said Foley, meaning only authorized users can gain access to encrypted documents. It can work with a wide variety of documents, including PDFs and computer-aided design files. Currently the product requires an agent as a plug-in but the goal is to come up with an agentless approach as well, Foley said. The product costs about $10 per user.

Watchful Software also has a second, distinct security product called TypeWatch based on what's known as keystroke-based biometrics used to analyze free-text typing patterns. This type of biometric technology is intended to monitor how users type on a keyboard with the idea that every individual has a unique style that can used to determine the user's identity. TypeWatch, which also costs about $10 per user, can be used for security access to systems and applications, says Foley. It can monitor typing behavior to determine if somehow the authorized user is not actually typing at the keyboard, alerting IT security managers.

Watchful Software was founded last July by Foley, Bernardo Patrao and Rui Biscaia as a spin-out from Critical Software, based in Portugal. The startup has received about $1 million in venture-capital funding from Critical Ventures. Foley said Watchful Software has 15 enterprise customers using its products today but none publicly announced.

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG publication and website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security. Twitter: @MessmerE. Email:

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