Minute Read: 6 minutes

How to Protect your AutoCAD and Autodesk Inventor Drawings from Cyberthreats

The manufacturing and design industry is rapidly expanding, with the introduction of new and innovative technologies designed to provide more cost-effective, robust, and efficient solutions. This has been made possible due to CAD tools such as AutoCAD and Autodesk Inventor.

What is AutoCAD and Autodesk Inventor? 

AutoCAD and Autodesk Inventor are professional–grade and powerful modeling Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software from AutoDesk Company.

AutoCAD is a powerful 2D and 3D program for engineers, architects, and construction professionals. It is not only a modeling software but also helps to create 2D sketches and documentation for your project. 

This software program uses meshes, surfaces, and solids with an option to comment on the drawings with dimensions. It works best with iOS and Windows providing freedom and mobility in designing.  

Autodesk Inventor is also a CAD software that is dedicated to mechanical design, documentation, and product simulations. This CAD software allows the designing of rapid assembly reconfigurations and uses standard elements such as gears, cams, or bolted connections from Autodesk’s library. 

Why should CAD security be a top priority in the manufacturing industry?

As the manufacturing industry contains sensitive and proprietary CAD drawings created by AutoCAD and Autodesk Inventor that could be exposed or even destroyed, cybersecurity should be of paramount concern.

Proper cybersecurity measures have to be developed and implemented to provide efficient and cost-effective additive manufacturing platforms that are digitally safe and secure from such attacks.

Information and data security is characterized by three aspects – Confidentiality, Integrity, and availability 

Information of a confidential nature has to be protected from parties that are unauthorized to view it. For example, a document that contains sensitive information that could cause harm to a company if leaked into the wrong hands. 

The Integrity of information is a very important aspect that concerns the validity of the data. If information is maliciously manipulated without any detection, it will be difficult to determine if the information is legitimate or not.

When information loses its integrity, it can hide important detail that, if it is not interpreted in the way it should be, could have detrimental effects in production.  

Data should be available to the intended parties whenever it is needed without landing into unauthorized hands.  

Organizations that use AutoCAD and Autodesk Inventor have to ensure adequate protection to their 3D designs with product details when it is shared with other parties be it internal or external in the supply chain.

How HALOCAD provides protection to your AutoCAD and Autodesk Inventor CAD designs?

SECUDE’s HALOCAD acts as a dedicated integrator that connects the user’s CAD applications to Microsoft Information Protection (MIP) and fully supports all implementation scenarios of Azure Information Protection (AIP) and Rights Management Services (RMS). The organization can utilize its investment in MIP even for CAD applications.

HALOCAD Architecture

Image: HALOCAD Architecture

In SAP PLM environments, HALOCAD works as an extension to HALOCORE protection by enabling CAD applications to automatically decrypt and use MIP encrypted files that have been checked out of the SAP Content Management System (CMS). 

Besides, HALOCAD enables CAD applications to use MIP directly when SAP is not the CMS in the background. In this case, HALOCAD enables encryption of CAD files including MIP label handling and privilege enforcement. 

At the time of file creation, the user’s valid credentials will invoke MIP labels. CAD users will not notice any difference in the handling of MIP protected CAD files. 

Protected files can only be opened and modified by authorized users and thus, protection continues to remain even when the file is accessed by multiple users across companies.

Lets look at a hypothetical scenario on how CAD data collaboration happens between the engineering team and the external third-party vendors & suppliers:

In the below scenario’s the design files move seamlessly across the supply chain with proper sensitivity labels and user privilege’s defined as mandated by the organization.

Scenario – 1 (Designer)

The user is the designer who owns the design files. Based on the user privilege defined, the designer can view, edit, copy, print, and export the files. 

user privilege and CAD file protection

Scenario- 2 (Engineer) 

The user is an engineer who consumes the design file shared with him by the engineering team. The engineer can view and edit the files. He can make modifications to the original file and share it. He does not have the privilege to copy, printexport, and use the snipping tool to make a copy.

Scenario – 3 (Partner)

In a typical manufacturing environment, the CAD drawings are shared with a lot of third-party partners, and vendors across the supply chain for day-to-day operations. In this scenario, the partner can only view the cad files as per the set privilege enforcement. 

Scenario – 4 (Unauthorized User)

If an unauthorized user outside of the organization tries to open the CAD drawings, the files are encrypted, and he will not be able to open the file. 

For companies who want to allow their CAD files to be read by users outside their organization, without the risk of losing IP, the free of charge HALOCAD Reader plug-in provides read-only access to MIP protected CAD files.

Also Read: Do you need to protect your sensitive CAD files when collaborating with third-party vendors?

Watch the 60-sec Demo of AutoCAD file protection using HALOCAD:

HALOCAD Plug-in for CAD 

This is a plug-in for CAD applications leverages Azure Rights Management Service (Azure RMS) protection to provide persistent document security and can be used standalone or in combination with HALOCAD for PLM. The HALOCAD plug-in can read protected files, enforce corresponding privileges, and change MIP labels. 

HALOCAD for PLM Applications 

This solution integrates with the corresponding PLM application and contains the functionality of HALOCAD PROTECT. Files are automatically protected during the access/download or checkout process (preserving the original file type extension) and are stored unprotected back into the PLM Vault during the upload/checkin process. 


This is a standalone plug-in for CAD applications which can be downloaded from the Microsoft Store and the SECUDE website. This module of HALOCAD enables users to read protected files and always enforce ‘readonly’ privileges. This feature does not support the setting or modification of labels. 

Requirements for HALOCAD Plug-in for AutoCAD & Inventor:

The following prerequisites must be met to install and configure the HALOCAD Plug-in:

Autodesk – AutoCAD

  • The HALOCAD Plug-in needs to be installed into the AutoCAD application.  
  • Supported Versions: AutoCAD 2016, AutoCAD 2019, AutoCAD 2020, AutoCAD 2016 Mechanical, AutoCAD 2019 Mechanical, AutoCAD 2016 Electrical, AutoCAD 2019 Electrical, AutoCAD MEP 2020, Civil 3D 2020 and AutoCAD Plant 3D 2020



Image: HALOCAD for Autodesk AutoCAD

Autodesk – Inventor 

  • The HALOCAD Plug-in needs to be installed into the inventor application. 
  •  Supported Versions: Autodesk Inventor 2018, 2019 and 2020

HALOCAD for Autodesk Inventor

Image: HALOCAD for Autodesk Inventor

Requirements for Microsoft Information Protection (MIP)

It is recommended to use Microsoft Information Protection (MIP) with unified labeling to label and protect CAD files. The following prerequisites for configuring and operating HALOCAD must be met. 

  • Microsoft 365 / Azure subscription
  • The Microsoft 365 bundle should be any one of the following to enable 3rd party integration into Microsoft Information Protection (MIP) using the MIP Software Development Kit
  • Office 365 E3 or E5 
  • Enterprise Mobility and Security E3 or E5
  • Azure Info Protection (AIP) Premium P1 or P2
  • Microsoft 365 E3, E5 or F1 

HALOCAD protects the following AutoCAD & Inventor file extensions: 

Application File Extensions
Autodesk AutoCAD dwg, dxf
Autodesk Inventor  ipt, iamidwipn

Available Permissions: 

Application Available Controls
Autodesk AutoCAD Access control (view, edit)

Usage control (print, save, save as, copy/paste, screen capture with snipping tool, copy to clipboard)

Dynamic watermarks 

Autodesk Inventor  Access control (view, edit)

Usage control (print, save, save as, copy/paste, screen capture with snipping tool, copy to clipboard)

Customer Benefits: 

HALOCAD for AutoCAD & Autodesk Inventor provides following benefits to customers: 

  • Users are granted privileged rights within the application, such as the ability to only view, edit, print, copy or screen capture sensitive information 
  • Enables the data security enforcement as part of an Enterprise Digital Rights Management approach based on unified encryption strategy using Microsoft Azure Information Protection (AIP) 
  • Enables configuring the rules for label enforcement without user intervention 
  • Leverage existing Office 365 / Microsoft Azure Information Protection (AIP) environment in customer location
  • Enables CIOs to have a 360° view of holistic encryption strategy using AIP and integrating into PLM & ERP environments. 


  1. https://www.sculpteo.com/en/3d-learning-hub/3d-printing-software/autocad-vs-inventor/ 
  2. A Review of Industry 4.0 Manufacturing Process – Security Risks – Jaco Prinsloo 1,*, Saurabh Sinha 1 and Basie von Solms

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