A secure content object protects electronic documents from unauthorized use. The secure content object includes an encrypted electronic document, a multi-key encryption table having at least one multi-key component, an encrypted header and a user interface device. The encrypted document is encrypted using a document encryption key associated with a multi-key encryption method. The encrypted header includes an encryption marker formed by a random number followed by a derivable variation of the same random number. The user interface device enables a user to input a user authorization. The user authorization is combined with each of the multi-key components in the multi-key encryption key table and used to try to decrypt the encrypted header. If the encryption marker is successfully decrypted, the electronic document may be decrypted. Multiple electronic documents or a document and annotations may be protected by the secure content object.
This invention was made, in part, with government support under Contract No. 11236-001-00 4V awarded by the Department of Energy. The Government has certain rights in this invention.