Data Management

First Look Review: Pinion Desktop Packager

30 Jun, 2006 By: Ron LaFon

File security software

With a remarkable amount of time, energy and effort tied up in drawings and other design files, people often approach the sharing of this intellectual property with some trepidation. Such sharing often is necessary to communicate design elements to remote members of a design team or with clients. It also is necessary when soliciting bids among vendors for production work that must be performed outside your firm. Pinion Software's Desktop Packager is designed to offer multilevel security protection to design files (figure 1).

Figure 1. Pinion Desktop Packager secures engineering design files with multilevel security.
Figure 1. Pinion Desktop Packager secures engineering design files with multilevel security.

The Desktop Packager application encrypts a copy of a design file. During the process, the originator selects the desired security options, and the software creates a *.PINION file for distribution typically via e-mail, though any method of distribution can be accommodated with the security options intact (figure 2). The originator of the encrypted file can choose to implement time-based access to files or impose an automatic shred date to self-destruct the files. Time options may include a date and time during which a file can be opened or how long it can be opened. Users can prevent recipients from using cut, copy, paste, print and screen grabber tools. The design file can be opened in the originating application; for example, a SolidWorks EASM file can be opened in eDrawings while retaining the imposed security features. Original design files are never at risk, because a copy is created in the encryption process. You can think of the process as a file firewall of sorts.

Figure 2. The interface of Pinion Software s Desktop Packager provides many security options for protecting the encrypted design files that it creates.
Figure 2. The interface of Pinion Software s Desktop Packager provides many security options for protecting the encrypted design files that it creates.

The Pinion Receiver is necessary to open the *.PINION files. Any attempt at tampering with the secure file or circumventing the imposed security features results in the file being shredded and securely deleted from the system. When a protected *.PINION file is open, Pinion Receiver blocks the use of the clipboard as well as screen-capture programs to secure and protect the file. Pinion Software says that a file opened in Receiver is "Pintected."

Pinion Desktop Packager
Pinion Desktop Packager

When recipients get a message with a secure file, they are instructed how to download Pinion Receiver, if it isn't already installed on their systems. When installed, Pinion Receiver opens the secure content in its native environment to let users work with the content to the extent allowed by the content owner.

File formats supported by Pinion Desktop Packager include SolidWorks eDrawings, Autodesk DWF, Adobe PDF, Microsoft Word and TIFF and a range of other technical, business and media application file types.

Both installation and usage are simple and easy, and the application characteristics make the software well suited for small to mid-sized businesses. Some hard disk and data-recovery applications won't function when Receiver 3.x is installed—part of the security process. I found, for example, that Norton Speed Disk (a defragmenter that's part of Norton SystemWorks 2006) did not function while the Receiver software was installed. Clipboard functions and screen-capture applications work as long as a secured design file isn't open. Pinion Software notes that the forthcoming Receiver 4 will be compatible with Speed Disk and similar utilities.

Pinion Receiver is a freely downloadable application that allows users to open and read design data files that have been secured by Pinion Desktop Packager. The current version is v3.2.5, and v4 should be released in the near future. Pinion Receiver v4 is expected to be smaller, faster and more efficient, with no postinstallation reboot required.

Pinion Software offers a number of security-related applications, including a five-user workgroup version of Desktop Packager that supports more file types and SecureCD, which is designed to protect information distributed on CD-ROM.

System requirements for Pinion Desktop Packager are a Windows-based PC with at least 256MB of system RAM and Internet Explorer v5 or higher. Pricing for the entry-level Pinion Desktop Packager is $299, and the workgroup edition retails for $4,995. You can download demos of Pinion Desktop Packager and the free Pinion Receiver from the Pinion Web site at, where you also can find information about the company's other security-related products.

If you're looking for an easy-to-use, security-related application to protect your design work and intellectual property, Pinion Desktop Packager is well worth investigating. Highly Recommended.

About the Author: Ron LaFon

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