• 4 Ways PDF Format Provides Document Security

    Posted 6 years ago
    24 May 2017
    Document Security

    The PDF format ever since its inception in 1993 has grown leaps and bounds. It has in this time achieved a pivotal status in the domain of file viewing and editing. One of the handy features that PDF format offers is the document security through various methods. So lets go through the 4 ways in which PDF format provides document security to its users.

    PDF Encryption:

    Encryption is the method of using mathematical algorithms to code certain secret information. It uses a unique key to scramble information in certain PDF files. This way, only the individuals with the correct key can view the information. Encryption keys usually comprise of random values which makes them impossible to guess. PDF encryption in this regard is the encryption of PDF files.  This can be done in a number of different ways. One can either encrypt an entire PDF file or parts of it, depending on the purpose.

    PDF Password Protection:

    PDF files can be protected by applying passwords to individual files. This method however can be prone to many shortcomings. Firstly, a unique password has to be chosen ideally for each PDF file. Therefore, if one is dealing with a lot of PDF files in regularity, it can become a burden to remember all of them.

    PDF file passwords on the other hand once shared cannot be traced back and there is no way of knowing how many users are viewing the file. Lastly, users tend to come up with easy to remember passwords which are easy to break and decode as well. This takes away the whole meaning of file protection. It is therefore advisable to avoid the use of passwords and stick to encryption in the first place.

    PDF Copy Protection:

    PDF copy protection implies the rights and limitations that can be put up in copying a certain file from one system to another over the internet. And the internet of course has become a huge hindrance in this matter. That’s because almost everything on a computer is a copy. Certain private PDF files therefore cannot be stopped from being copied from one system to another.

    So PDF copy protection cannot rely upon the idea that you can stop people copying computer files. It is only relevant then that PDF Copy Protection is accompanied by another PDF protection mechanism, say PDF encryption. This way, even if a PDF file does make its way to a computer, it still cannot be viewed without proper authorization and decoding. The 2 systems if implemented simultaneously can yield desired result in this regard.

    PDF Digital Rights Management:

    Back when the PDF format was launched, Adobe came up with their own Digital Rights Management for PDF files. Those have certainly been edited and changed with time due to the huge demand for changes and additions in PDF files. Initially, PDF DRMs used to comprise of the following points.

    1.No printing

    2.Changes not allowed in the document

    3.No copying or extraction allowed

    4.No adding or changing comments or form fields.

    These over time have been changed to the following.


    2.Changing the document

    3.Document assembly

    4.Content copying or extraction

    5.Content extraction for accessibility


    7.Filling of form fields


    9.Creation of template pages.

    Another aspect of DRM of course is water marking which is an effective means of controlling the digital rights to a PDF document.

    All these mechanisms come together to make the PDF format a safe and secure medium for saving and sharing confidential files. With time, newer and better features will always be added to keep it updated and relevant. The PDF format will therefore keep on bearing the flagship status in the domain of file sharing and viewing.

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