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IBM Aspera - Bolstering Data Accountability with Forensic Watermarking

By Siddharth Mehta posted Wed January 27, 2021 01:24 PM


The digitization of information in the past half century has provided the world with a multitude of benefits. However, it has also led to some concerns. As it becomes easier and easier to share data, it not only becomes easier to collaborate but also easier for malicious actors to leak this data. Consider a movie being leaked online before its release date or personally identifiable medical data being illegally published on the internet or financial data being sold on the dark net. All these events have disastrous consequences for companies and individuals. 


As a major data transfer platform, we at Aspera believe that we need to provide our customers with the tools and services required to prevent these leaks from happening, and if these leaks do happen to provide a system of accountability. This idea of accountability is what led us to develop our Forensic Watermarking feature. 


When you send a file on the Aspera On Cloud system with the Forensic Watermarking feature enabled, you can rest assured that if the file is leaked you will be able to track down the culprit. To achieve this, we work with Irdeto, a leading provider of cybersecurity solutions, to embed a unique watermark in each recipient’s copy of the file. This watermark is invisible to the naked eye and does not affect system functionality in any manner or form.  


Now, assume a copy of this file is found on a torrent site; its watermark can be decoded and used to find out which of the original recipients owned that copy.  


Aspera on Cloud administrators use Irdeto-provided identity markers in the watermark to look up an Aspera On Cloud ID. Since Irdeto’s identity markers are related to a specific recipient’s copy of a watermarked file, the administrator can identify the individual a specific watermarked copy of a file is associated with --  in other words, who leaked the file. 


Once your Aspera on Cloud organization administrator enables the watermarking feature and sets it up for your workspace, using it to secure your files is exceptionally easy. When you send a package, simply mark the “Add watermark” checkbox; Aspera on Cloud then interacts with your Irdeto service to apply the required watermark to each copy.   


Using the system of accountability created through forensic watermarking, we help our customers protect critical and sensitive information so that they can execute their workflows with confidence that their data is secure. 


Note: As an organization administrator, setting up watermarking for your users is easy! You can find instructions on how to enable and setup the forensic watermarking feature over here: