What Is a Zero Footprint Viewer and How Can It Benefit You?

It used to be that opening a Word document required an appropriate program on your machine. You also had to download the whole document before you were able to access the information, then load up the program to view the file. This approach works fine when you are only dealing with one document type on one machine, but now the number of file formats, devices, phones, tablets, and computers commonly used is growing exponentially, and you want to access all of your information in all formats seamlessly across all of your machines.

A zero footprint viewer changes the game. It loads and integrates documents within a browser to allow you to see your file without the fuss. With a zero footprint viewer, there is no install or download required – all you need to access a document is any web browser.

Why do you care? Behold, the benefits:

  • Zero Installs: No applications, plug-ins or applets necessary
  • Zero Requirements: Type of browser, version, location, machine, device, software, hardware – all of that becomes irrelevant
  • Zero Maintenance: No machine-specific software, so no need to maintain or upgrade any machine to access your information – everything is controlled by the central server
  • Zero Loading Time: Works like YouTube – you don’t have to wait for the whole video to load before you watch

To be sure, zero footprint viewers aren’t perfect. The host needs powerful enough servers installed and set up to provide users with the documents, for example, which requires plenty of work server-side.

But that’s an inevitable trade-off: server-side work for user-side ease.

Prizm Content Connect is a zero footprint viewer with the flexible support for all server platforms and over 300 file formats. Curious and want to learn more? Check out our white paper on the benefits of a zero footprint viewer.

What are some ways you would integrate and use a zero footprint viewer? Any benefits or downsides we missed? Share below in the comments!

Source: http://blog.accusoft.com/posts/2012/july/what-is-a-zero-footprint-viewer-and-how-can-it-benefit-you.html

Maximum SharePoint Efficiency with Minimal Effort

When Jigoro Kanō established the martial arts style Judo in 1882, he did so after several years of training under various other methodologies. Ju (“pliancy”) and Do (“the way”) roughly translate into “the gentle way.” The revolutionary aspect of his new form of martial arts was kuzushi, or off-balancing, a way of using an opponent’s weight to leverage the execution of one’s technique. In this evolution, Kanō found his motto: “The maximum efficiency with minimal effort.”

The leveraging of existing assets to accomplish sophisticated results with minimal effort has its place within technology implementations, and Microsoft SharePoint certainly lends enough weight to the equation to gain a significant amount of leverage in your execution. Leveraging that weight effectively is the key to successful execution in SharePoint, and that’s one of the many reasons I’m so enthusiastic about our Prizm Content Connect platform when it’s integrated with SharePoint, a scenario that’s…

Quick: Installation is simple and leverages existing SharePoint security mechanisms to establish Digital Rights Management (DRM) and quickly allow access to over 300 different file formats, all from a single interface and without any software to install on users’ systems. Watch this video to see how to install Prizm Content Connect in five minutes: Installing Prizm Content Connect on SharePoint 2010.

Efficient: Everyone from SharePoint Administrators to Web Experience Designers working in SharePoint Designer to Developers working in Visual Studio can take advantage of the features provided in the Prizm Content Connect platform. Check out this tutorial to learn how to Use SharePoint Designer 2010 to Create a Document Viewer.

Evolving: Accusoft brings 20 years of imaging and document SDK experience to bear in the Prizm Content Connect product. The product roadmap is rich with feature enhancements and will continue to grow alongside your SharePoint implementation.

Prizm Content Connect for SharePoint is available in a fully functional evaluation download from http://www.accusoft.com/sharepointdownload.htm.

In what other ways is the weight of SharePoint leveraged for maximum efficiency with minimal effort in your company? Share in the comments section below.

Source: http://blog.accusoft.com/posts/2013/march/maximum-sharepoint-efficiency-with-minimal-effort.html

Limiting Security Risks with a Document Viewer

Are there security advantages to an alternate viewer, for example Prizm Content Connect or Prizm Cloud Connect?

Security is on everyone’s mind these days, and if it isn’t it should be.  It is certainly on Oracle’s mind as they have had a lot of Java vulnerabilities reported in the last few months. Microsoft also released their largest ever Patch Tuesday to address 57 different vulnerabilities in some of their top products.  Both of these companies are top tier vendors and have millions of installed applications.  Having that kind of install base makes them prime targets.  A reasonable question then might be “Are there security advantages if I went with someone else?”  I’ll explore this question in relation to PDF and document viewers.

The first thing to realize about a “PDF vulnerability” or a “Word vulnerability” is that this is actually shorthand for “A vulnerability in application X when acting on files of type Y” where Y happens to be a PDF or Word document.  An in-the-wild exploit that uses a PDF vulnerability must target a specific application, usually Adobe Acrobat Reader, and usually it targets a specific version.  This means that if you are viewing a malicious PDF targeted at Adobe Acrobat Reader with Prizm Content Connect, or Prizm Cloud Connect then this file will most likely fail to render instead of running malicious code.  This is not a new idea, this is Security through Minority.  This is the idea that an attacker has limited time and is trying to extract maximum value out of that time and so they will target the most widespread applications.  While this might be true in the general case, it might not be true in the targeted case.  The number one prediction from Kaspersky Lab’s Security Bulletin 2012 is that targeted attacks and cyber-espionage are on the rise, so it’s something to consider.

The next thing to think about is where the file is parsed and rendered.  Where is code executing that the attacker can influence?  In client based viewers the file is parsed and rendered on the client machine.  This means that each machine needs to follow security best practices.  Each machine needs to apply the latest security patches.  Is it easy to roll-out company wide updates to a viewer?  With the Prizm Content Connect and Prizm Cloud Connect architecture the file parsing happens on a back-end server.  If you are using our latest HTML5 based viewer only a PNG file is sent to the client.  This means that you can focus your security efforts on the back-end server.  A back-end server can reduce its attack surface by running with very limited accounts and having very few applications installed.  It gives you a single place to add monitoring and auditing of activity.   It is much easier to manage security updates and hardening for a single machine than for the 100s or 1,000s of client machines your organization might have.  Especially when you consider the rise of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device).

As with any security policy it is not always easy to see what is an advantage or not for a particular organization.  These two aspects are certainly security considerations, can they be turned into security advantages for your organization?

Source: http://blog.accusoft.com/posts/2013/february/limiting-security-risks-with-a-document-viewer.html

Going Native with eDiscovery

A preference for native file formats in eDiscovery – the electronic exchange of information in the discovery process in litigation – is now nearly the norm, despite some resistance in years past. When electronically stored information (ESI) is preserved throughout the discovery process in its native format, all potentially relevant information – including searchable text, annotations, and metadata – is preserved as well, and is readily available to sharp legal eyes and to the growing array of eDiscovery analysis tools.

Of those tools, one of the most talked-about today is predictive coding, the application of artificial intelligence and workflow processes to keyword search, filter, and sample eDiscovery content to identify what’s most relevant to the case, in order to make the process quicker and less labor-intensive. Critics say predictive coding amounts to replacing a lawyer’s experienced eyes and judgment with inferior programming, while proponents argue that it’s not only faster (hence cheaper), but also less likely to miss something small and important, when applied smartly. Although the jury is still out and challenges remain, recent word from federal and state benches points to growing acceptance of predictive coding, especially in cases involving thousands or millions of pages of discovery.

The more complete and searchable a document file is, the more useful it becomes to predictive coding, and thus more valuable to the case. A native format document makes any searchable text, indexing, annotations, metadata and other original information available to the predictive coding engine’s expert electronic eye.

But even when predictive coding is used, litigators need to be able to view and print discovery documents, and often to annotate and redact them as well. And that’s when native formats become a problem. When dozens of available native file formats require dozens of applications to display them – Microsoft Word for Word docs, Adobe Reader for PDFs, AutoCAD for blueprints, a photo app for pictures, and on and on – legal teams must stock a complex and often expensive array of programs for viewing. And litigators must not only have all those applications on hand, but also be trained in using them – not only for viewing, but also for annotating and redacting – and must waste costly time switching among programs.

OrcaTec, an Atlanta-based eDiscovery software provider, addresses the native file format dilemma in its Document Decisioning Suite in part by embedding Accusoft’s Prizm Content Connect viewer. Because the viewer displays and prints more than 300 file types, OrcaTec’s users can perform all of their document review within the same viewer, and use one familiar set of tools for annotation and redaction. Read more about OrcaTec’s approach to enhancing its document viewer and browser-based redaction to make native files available to litigators.

Although eDiscovery is here to stay and its predictive coding component seems poised to follow, questions remain about the defensibility of predictive-coding-based discovery. The American Bar Association seems to take an optimistic, wait-and-see view of the technology while cautioning practitioners to perform tests to ensure that the results of predictive coding are complete, accurate, and appropriate in scope. Ultimately such testing – amplified by the success or failure of predictive coding results in court in coming years – will not only determine the fate of the technology, but will also help law firms learn how to compare among eDiscovery tools and select the best ones for their practices.

You may also be interested in reading “5 Keys to Selecting an eDiscovery Viewer.” This whitepaper discusses the importance of viewing in an eDiscovery solution and focuses on 5 keys for selecting the viewer that meets your eDiscovery requirements.

Is litigation too complex, subjective and high-stakes an endeavor to be turned over to artificial intelligence? Share your thoughts in the comments section, below.

Source: http://blog.accusoft.com/posts/2013/april/going-native-with-ediscovery.html

On the Validity of eSignatures

Right here last week, we revealed new research from the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) suggesting that a lack of faith in the validity of electronic signatures (eSignatures), among other things, was holding back the adoption of paper-reducing practices in U.S. companies.

Somewhat surprised at that news, we thought now would be a good time to share with readers here why eSignatures are just as good as “wet ink” signatures, and to remind them that the Prizm Content Connect thin-client document viewer offers a secure, affordable solution for eSigning more than 300 different types of documents and other electronic files.

Image

First, a disclaimer: The author of this blog entry is not a lawyer. This article is intended to give you an overview. If you want specific legal advice about the use of eSignature at your company, you know who you need to talk to.

They’re Legal. Everywhere.
Broadly speaking, courts are required by federal law and by individual laws in all 50 states (and in Canada, the U.K., and the E.U., among others) to accept eSignatures as valid on all types of documents, with a few key exceptions, such as wills.

More accurately, these laws bar courts from refusing to admit a document as valid and signed solely because its signature was collected electronically. The 2000 E-SIGN (Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce) Act puts it simply: “A signature, contract, or other record relating to such transaction may not be denied legal effect, validity, or enforceability solely because it is in electronic form…. A contract relating to such transaction may not be denied legal effect, validity, or enforceability solely because an electronic signature or electronic record was used in its formation.” So there.

You may have noticed that the E-SIGN act does not specify the technical requirements an eSignature must meet to be valid. That’s by design; the law requires the acceptance of eSignatures but leaves the door open to any technological approach (credentialed login, click-thru, biometrics, and so on) so that the law will remain applicable even as the technology enabling it evolves and diversifies. There are more stringent, additional regulations for certain industries, such as the pharmaceutical industry, that do specify the application of particular technological approaches.

But You Still Have to Do Them Right
Here’s the tricky part: In a legal proceeding, any document, whether signed electronically or by pen, can have its validity called into question by counsel, who might succeed in having it thrown out of evidence or its terms declared unenforceable. What proof is there that the signature (E or otherwise) cannot be a forgery? Is the document a copy or other alternate version that would be superseded by an original? Does the audit trail reveal opportunities for the document’s contents or its signature to have been altered?

Case law already provides a great illustration of the risks: In Kerr v. Dillard Store Services, Inc. (2008), department store chain Dillard’s said an employee was bound by a mandatory arbitration agreement she had electronically signed; the employee claimed she never signed it. The court sided with the employee because her supervisor knew the employee’s login ID and password, and thus had access, opportunity and motive to sign the agreement on the employee’s behalf. It was not the fact that the document was electronically signed that undermined its enforceability, but rather the weaknesses of the specific provisions the employer had taken to ensure the authenticity of the signature.

The lesson of Kerr v. Dillard is not that eSignatures are any less ironclad than wet ink ones, but that how you go about collecting them matters. Just as a written signature in pencil can be called into question because of how easily it can be altered, an eSignature collected without sufficient safeguards can be picked apart in court.

That’s why Prizm Content Connect’s eSignature module keeps documents secure and private among interested parties. Hosted eSignature services often pass documents through third-party servers, which not only opens a doorway through which an attorney might walk to suggest an opportunity for alteration, but also violates specific regulatory requirements in some industries.

And while Accusoft’s secure document-viewer based solution enables you to view and eSign more than 300 different file types, the signed document can only be saved as a PDF file. PDF is the most widely accepted format for eSigned documents, and the one least vulnerable to ex post facto alteration.

The Bottom Line
Properly collected, eSignatures are as good as ink. Using eSignatures not only reduces paper, but also enables you to dramatically speed up contract signings, non-disclosures, and other agreements to keep your business moving.