Active Directory Rights Management Services Overview

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Published: February 8, 2012

Updated: February 8, 2012

Applies To: Windows Server 2012

This document provides an overview of Active Directory Rights Management Services (AD RMS) in Windows Server® 2012. AD RMS is the server role that provides you with management and development tools that work with industry security technologies—including encryption, certificates, and authentication—to help organizations create reliable information protection solutions.

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AD RMS can be used to augment the security strategy for your organization by protecting documents using information rights management (IRM).

AD RMS allows individuals and administrators through IRM policies to specify access permissions to documents, workbooks, and presentations. This helps prevent sensitive information from being printed, forwarded, or copied by unauthorized people. After permission for a file has been restricted by using IRM, the access and usage restrictions are enforced no matter where the information is, because the permission to a file is stored in the document file itself.

AD RMS and IRM help individuals enforce their personal preferences concerning the transmission of personal or private information. They also help organizations enforce corporate policy governing the control and dissemination of confidential or proprietary information.

IRM solutions that AD RMS enables are used to help provide the following:

  • Persistent usage policies, which remain with the information, no matter where it is moved, sent or forwarded.
  • An additional layer of privacy to protect sensitive information —such as financial reports, product specifications, customer data, and confidential e-mail messages—from intentionally or accidentally getting into the wrong hands.
  • Prevent an authorized recipient of restricted content from forwarding, copying, modifying, printing, faxing, or pasting the content for unauthorized use
  • Prevent restricted content from being copied by using the Print Screen feature in Microsoft Windows
  • Support file expiration so that content in documents can no longer be viewed after a specified period of time
  • Enforce corporate policies that govern the use and dissemination of content within the company

IRM-based solutions that AD RMS supports cannot prevent all types of threats to the security of sensitive documents or prevent disclosure of screen readable information under all circumstances. For example, the following are some types of document security threats that AD RMS does not address or mitigate:

  • Content from being erased, stolen, or captured and transmitted by malicious programs such as Trojan horses, keystroke loggers, and certain types of spyware
  • Content from being lost or corrupted because of the actions of computer viruses
  • Restricted content from being hand-copied or retyped from a display on a recipient’s screen
  • A recipient from taking a digital photograph of the restricted content displayed on a screen
  • Restricted content from being copied by using third-party screen-capture programs

For more information on how AD RMS can be used to design secure document collaboration, see AD RMS Architecture Design and Secure Collaboration Scenarios.

Several improvements have been made to the Windows Server 2012 version of AD RMS. These enhancements are covered online in the article What’s New in AD RMS?

The installation of AD RMS role services can be performed through the Server Manager. The following role services can be installed:

Role service Description
Active Directory Rights Management Server The Active Directory Rights Management Server is a required role service that installs all AD RMS features used to publish and consume rights-protected content.
Identity Federation Support The identity federation support role service is an optional role service that allows federated identities to consume rights-protected content by using Active Directory Federation Services.

The following table provides additional resources for evaluating AD CS.

Content type References
Product evaluation
Community resources
Related technologies Active Directory Certificate ServicesActive Directory Domain ServicesActive Directory Federation Services

Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services