Some Quick Thoughts on PDF Security

You’ve been hit over the head with it: one of the key features of the PDF is that it comes with securing features. You can add passwords,  restrict utilization, and even certify an encrypted PDF.

 

 

Yet, as great as those features may sound, security options can only do so much outside of the digital state. We were recently asked a question by a prospective customer:

 

 

 

 

“How do you prevent a user from distributing a created PDF?. . . I only want the downloader to view this [confidential] document. I do not want him to be able to send a “Copy” to the entire staff.”

 

 

 

 

One of our staff members, George, had this to say in response which brings to light an important point:

 

 

 

 

“The problem is the fundamental one – the PDF document is just an ordinary file, just like any other on computer…it can be copied, sent via FTP or email, deleted etc. – just as any other file. Therefore, there is no way to limit distribution of the FILE that is the document itself…It really isn’t possible to prevent a person who reads the content of a PDF file from copying it by hand, or taking screenshots of it, talking about it etc…”

 

 

 

 

Of course, this makes you wonder about your own files–have they been compromised?  The problem is that PDF security places a little too much emphasis on the document falling into the wrong hands, not the hands of the intended recipient. Is there a possibility that they could be both one and the same?

 

 

 

 

Sad to say, PDF capabilities just  don’t eliminate the “wicked??? human factor on the other end once the file is accessed.  The only thing you can do to prevent this is to make sure that the file has the highest security settings in place. And–  of course, ensure you’re sending the file to a trusted recipient (no sarcasm intended).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One tip: When deciding on the security for your PDF document, think of the characteristics of certain security measures. For instance, passwords can be compromised,  printed PDF documents can be photocopied, etc. Think outside the security box.

 

 

 

 

This is not to say that the PDF isn’t good enough at securing documents. It is. Only, it just stops short of ensuring honesty in the work environment. There are good security measures available, just don’t take them for granted.

What PDF Security Can and Can’t Do

You’ve been hit over the head with it: one of the key features of the PDF is that it comes with securing features. You can add passwords and certain permissions; grant access or restrict utilization; and even certify and sign an encrypted PDF.

Yet, as great as those features may sound, security options can only do so much outside of the digital state. We were recently asked a question by a prospective customer:

“How do you prevent a user from distributing a created pdf?. . . I only want the downloader to view this [confidential] document. I do not want him to be able to send a “Copy” to the entire staff.”

One of our staff members, George, had this to say in response which brought to light an important point:

“The problem is the fundamental one – the PDF document is just an ordinary file, just like any other on computer…it can be copied, sent via FTP or email, deleted etc. – just as any other file. Therefore, there is no way to limit distribuiton of the FILE that is the document itself…It really isn’t possible to prevent a person who reads the content of a PDF file from copying it by hand, or taking screenshots of it, talking about it etc…”

Of course, this makes you wonder about your own files–have they been compromised? The problem is that PDF security places a little too much emphasis on the document falling into the wrong hands, not the hands of the intended recipient. Is there a possibility that they could be both one and the same?

Sad to say, PDF capabilities just don’t eliminate the “wicked” human factor on the other end once the file is accessed. The only thing you can do to prevent this is to make sure that the file has the highest security settings in place. And– of course, ensure you’re sending the file to a trusted recipient (no sarcasm intended).

One tip: When deciding on the security for your PDF document, think of the characteristics of certain security measures. For instance, passwords can be compromised and printed PDF documents can be photocopied. Think outside the security box.

This is not to say that the PDF isn’t good enough at securing documents. It is. Only, it just stops short of ensuring honesty in the work environment. There are good security measures available, just don’t take them for granted.

Microsoft drops native PDF Creation from Office 12

In an effort to ward of an expected anti-trust lawsuit from Adobe, Microsoft recently announced that they are going to be dropping a feature from their new Office 12 software that allowed documents to be saved as either PDFs or XPS documents. XPS is Microsoft’s new technology that competes with PDF and is said to be, by some, a PDF killer.

Apparently, Adobe was a little more afraid of this development than they let on publicly at the time Microsoft announced the PDF creation feature in Office 12!

So, while you’ll no longer be able to get free PDF creation with your license of Office 12, you can still check out our Sonic PDF creator using our 7-day free trial.

Adobe Acrobat & PDF Conference

We just got back from launching our new Absolute PDF Server product at the PDF2006 Adobe Acrobat & PDF Conference in Orlando, Florida.  Absolute PDF Server got a very good reception from attendees and also got write-ups on PDFZone.com and PlanetPDF.com.

We were at the conferences as an exhibitor (a pic of our great display is forthcoming) and we also managed to attend several valuable conference sessions.

Already looking forward to going back next year!