How to protect PDF Files so they are secure

As a business owner, your information, whether it is in the form of eBooks, online training courses, web content, company policies or client contracts, is critical to you. So, you would not want to have any information falling into the wrong hands. To achieve this, you must ensure that your confidential information remains accessible only to the authorized users and that you have control over how it is being used.

This is possible by using Digital Rights Management (DRM) and licensing controls to protect your PDF files. And, one of the most important tools to ensure PDF document security and copy protection is a secure PDF viewer that empowers you to view protected PDF documents on different operating systems (on computers and mobile devices) or even via a USB device.

Your aim should be to ensure that the PDF protection software you use for your documents can provide the following security features.

Control Document Printing

You should be able to prevent the users of your document from printing the same or place a limit on the number of copies that each user can print. At the same time, you can disallow certain users from printing a PDF file, while allowing other specific users to print the same.

In addition, when you choose to allow printing for any number of users, it is necessary to use watermarking so as to discourage the users from making any photocopies and circulating the information to unauthorized people.

Avoid Copying and Conversion to Other Document Formats

Another way of avoiding any copies created for your documents on a user’s machine is to disable any “Save as” option. In this way, even your authorized users would not be able to save files in unprotected formats. However, you must not use JavaScript to disable the “Save” or “Save as” menu option, as it is very easy to remove such JavaScript from a browser.

Additionally, the non-availability of the “Save” option from the start ensures that your PDF files cannot be converted to other document formats, such as Word. Also, the files will be encrypted, using the secure PDF file viewer, and so the protected PDF documents cannot be converted with the use of any external apps.

Prevent Document Downloads

Even though you may only provide access to view your documents online on browsers, there is scope for the information in your files being copied or downloaded. This can happen as every browser caches information to disks in unprotected formats. However, when using a PDF security viewer software to view protected files, different data chunks are downloaded into the memory, without any caching to disks.

Prevent Unauthorized Sharing or Distribution

Although you may have encrypted your PDF file with a password, there is the possibility that your authorized users will share the file and the password with unauthorized people. However, with PDF document security software that uses DRM and licensing controls, the encryption is more secure as the decryption keys are stored in a keystore that is locked to the device on which it was registered. This means that only the authorized users can decrypt the files and they can only access the content from registered devices. In this way, even if an unauthorized person gets your confidential documents, they would not be able to decrypt the encryption and view or use the data.

The methods discussed above are just some of the ways in which a PDF security solution with DRM controls can help protect your PDF files. There are many other controls, such as determining how long one can access the files (expiry date) and disabling screen grabs.

We hope that the above information about secure PDF file protection proves useful to you. Feel free to share your feedback or queries (if any) in the comments section below.

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