In the world of electronic documents and paperless offices, the PDF (Portable Document Format) has become an essential document format. A PDF file is readable on multiple operating systems, in a wide variety of programs and is able to retain document formatting regardless of the device, operating system or program it is viewed on. Users can also easily organise PDFs, bookmark pages for reading later or even convert PDF to eBook format. But it’s not just these great features which make it such a popular format of the business world: There’s also the topic of PDF security.
When you create PDFs for business purposes there are a number of security concerns you may have, ranging from who can view it to how the content can be re-used. It’s therefore vital to understand your PDF security settings well and to know what protection features are generally available. Here are some of the top PDF security tips.
1. PDF Documents Can Be Secured Using Public Keys Or Passwords
All PDF security relies on encryption, but the method for obtaining access to the file can vary according to your security needs. Many business documents use a password to unlock the file as it is a simple way to give access. Clients can be told passwords via the phone for access to the files you have sent electronically, thus stopping an intercepter from gaining access. However, it is also possible to pre-define who has access to the file according to public keys, making it impossible to gain access to the document unless you are the intended recipient of the file.
Note that encrypted protection of PDF files will not stop someone from deleting the file. You’ll need to ensure the file access rights on your computer are sufficient to ensure the document is safe.
2. Some Documents May Be Printed Even When Password-Protected
If you have decided to password-protect your PDF documents, you may be surprised or relieved to know that it is possible to allow print-only access to a file even without the password. This is both something to note when ensuring your documents are fully secured and something to try if you’ve locked yourself out of an important document. This could be very important to remember in the future!
3. PDF Security Can Be Used To Prevent Copying
You may have PDF documents which you’d like to make generally available, but which you’d prefer weren’t easy to copy (for whatever reason). For instance, PDF security can be used to ensure people can’t copy and paste your text, can’t print the file in high quality or save as another sort of document. This DRM (Digital Rights Management) can be really useful when sending files to clients for a preview before they’ve paid for the work. Unencrypted PDF files can allow users to cut-and paste text as well as extracting images from the PDF document. It’s even really easy to convert PDFs to Word documents.
4. Some Encryption and PDF Protections Can Be Broken Or Avoided
Despite all this encryption, a determined PDF copier would re-type the text or take a screenshot of your document. There are also many services available online to remove PDF encryption. With different levels of encryption available and many high-powered computers around to break that encryption you’re never completely safe, but it will deter most people.
More About PDF Security
Check out this great video from Adobe about securing your PDFs.
Note that there are a number of different ways to encrypt your PDF files as numerous programs can create and access PDF files. Generally, look under “permissions”, “protection”, “security” and “encryption” to access the security controls for your PDF.
What are your best tips about securing PDFs? Let us know in the comments!