revoke individual user access to single, multiple, or all documents
revoke access automatically after a number of views and/or prints
Add dynamic watermarks to viewed and or printed pages. Dynamic variables (date/time, user name, company name, email address) are replaced with actual user and system data when the protected PDF document is displayed and/or printed.
You only have to protect a document once in order to customize it for multiple users.
see what devices & operating systems users are using
Comply with legislation by controlling access and use:
Ensure only authorized parties can view confidential documents
Enforce document retention policies with automatic expiry
Log use for proof of when documents are viewed and printed
Protect IPR, reduce costs, ensure compliance, gain new revenue:
Protect revenue and increase ROI – reduce losses and costs
Take control over your IPR, prevent document leakage & theft
No cost per document or user – one fixed price for unlimited use
Free Trial & Demo
“Fantastic product… outstanding support.”
“We would recommend Locklizard to others”
“The clear leader for PDF DRM protection”
“Our ebook sales have gone through the roof”
“Simple & secure – protects IPR from theft”
How easy is it to unlock or crack password protected PDFs?
There are various advantages of using PDF documents, and chief among them is the ability to secure the document with the help of a password. This is something image files such as TIFFs or JPEGs just don’t offer natively. If you password protect PDF files, then you can restrict the ability of a user to, edit, or and print. But PDF password protection is not as secure as it might seem, and has many disadvantages.
Using passwords to protect PDFs is not secure
Password protected PDFs can easily be cracked and the document security features removed. A simple search on any major search engine will reveal numerous PDF password removal applications and workarounds that are easily and freely available. These can be used to remove all PDF restrictions and in many cases the password required to access the document (the open password).
A large number of companies continue to employ reusable, standard passwords to password protect PDFs. Unsurprisingly, these same standard passwords are also used in various other business applications, intranets and extranets, e-mail, CRM, and other business programs within the organization. Maintaining confidential information or sensitive data in PDFs with reusable or standard passwords is highly insecure and risky. This is because passwords can easily be hacked, stolen, or guessed (the majority of passwords are weak and the most popular password is 123456). Once the password has been compromized, the PDF document is no longer secure.
In most cases, the document owner is rarely aware that their passwords have been compromised. In fact, if the hacker is smart, the owner will never realize that the attack has taken place. For organizations and companies, this means that sensitive business data can be easily duplicated, edited, and read by unauthorized sources without anyone even knowing a security breach has occurred.
Despite technological advancements and education surrounding the importance of strong passwords for confidential business information, a large number of companies have a poor understanding of how easy it is for anybody outside the system to subtly hack into their data.
Standard password-based PDFs are often reused with the same credentials, and in most cases, these credentials are stored in a password database that is typically maintained on the company’s system. Hence the password to the document can either be acquired by snooping on the user’s network connection, hacking the system’s password file, keyboard logging, stealth infection password removal applications, or simple guesswork using dictionary attacks. Several powerful password cracking applications can decrypt any password within seconds or minutes through a standard computer – the shorter the password, the quicker it is to crack.
Adobe PDF Password Cracker History
Elcomsoft break 40 bit Adobe PDF Encryption
ElcomSoft’s Advanced PDF Password Recovery software makes it easy to remove both password encryption and usage restrictions from Adobe Acrobat PDFs. It provides super-fast guaranteed recovery of PDFs with 40-bit encryption.
PDF permissions passwords removed by viewing PDFs in Gmail
Password protected PDF files received in Gmail are easily cracked. If you select ‘View as HTML’, the full text of the document will display as HTML, even if the original PDF is secured against content copying/extraction.
Adobe Acrobat 8 password encryption cracked
AES 128-bit and 256-bit protected PDFs can be cracked. It is the password rather than the encryption algorithm that is cracked using dictionary and brute force attacks.
Adobe Acrobat PDF 9 is less secure for PDF password protection
Acrobat 9 passwords (vs Acrobat 8) can be cracked 100 times quicker by brute force attacks due to a weakened password verification mechanism.
Adobe Acrobat X
Acrobat X/XI/DC no longer offer Acrobat 9 encryption (PDF 1.7) for protecting new documents (only for decrypting existing documents) due to a weakness in the password checking algorithm.
Adobe Acrobat X
PDF 2.0 deprecates most of the algorithms, keeping only the Acrobat X flavor of AES-256 encryption (called AESV3 in PDF). The fundamental security of the system however remains unchanged.
Types of PDF Passwords & how to crack them
You can protect Adobe PDFs with two different passwords:
The Document Open password– this is required to open the PDF to read it. The stronger the document open password, the longer it will take to crack or remove with PDF password removal tools. Once a user knows the open password, they can share it with others or instantly remove it.
The Permissions password– required to set, change, or remove PDF restrictions. This can be easily cracked no matter how strong it is due to a flaw in the design of the Acrobat Security See How Secure Is PDF?
How to crack a password protected PDF
Free PDF password crackers online tools will normally only remove the permissions password, although some will also remove the PDF document open password if the PDF has been encrypted with 40-bit encryption (this only the case if security was applied with a very old version of Adobe Acrobat). You have to purchase password cracking software to break AES 256-bit files. However, when it comes to removing PDF restrictions, you don’t even need to use an Adobe PDF password cracker– there are other simpler methods – see Removing PDF Restrictions.
PDF password cracking software (usually marketed as PDF password recovery software for legal reasons) uses several techniques to remove a PDF Document Open password:
Password lists – this tries the most common words people use as passwords – e.g. password, 123456, etc.
Dictionary attacks – this tries all the words found in a dictionary, often in several different languages. Single dictionary words can be cracked in minutes.
Brute force – this tries all possible password combinations starting with a password that is a blank field. If it fails, they add another bit and try again until they find it. The shorter the password the quicker the attack works.
Rainbow table – a list of pre-computed hashes (the numerical value of an encrypted password) of all possible password combinations for any given hashing algorithm.
Thunder Tables™ – these are unique to Elcomsoft. They list all the keys for which Rainbow Table fails so that brute-force attacks do not spend time trying 99% of incorrect keys.
PDF Password cracking software
See PDF Password Remover tools for a list of programs that unlock PDFs and how to remove PDF restrictions without using password cracking tools.
How long does it take to crack PDF Passwords?
Any PDF password cracking software can easily remove the permissions password (and thus the document restrictions) in seconds. It does so by exploiting flaws in the Adobe Security Handler.
Time to crack the Document Open password will depend on:
the strength of the password (length and character combination) – a strong password will take longer to crack (i.e. a long password with multiple non-alphanumeric characters)
the encryption algorithm used and strength – AES for example will take longer to crack than RC4 40 bit
the processing power and memory of your computer – the more the better
whether the PDF password cracking software supports multi-core, multi-processor, and GPU hardware acceleration
Brute force and dictionary attacks can take several days or more to crack a PDF password depending on the above factors. If the PDF password is particularly long, you might be waiting a while!
Cracking of PDF files encrypted with 40-bit keys usually takes a few minutes if you use Elcomsoft’s Enterprise edition of Advanced PDF Password Recovery. This is because it attacks the encryption key instead of attempting to guess the password. Other PDF password crackers will take 1-2 days to crack 40-bit encrypted PDFs.
Adobe 9 passwords using AES are 100 times quicker to crack because of a security implementation flaw – a password checking routine consists of just one call to the SHA256 hash function. It is not the AES algorithm at fault, but the password checking routine implemented by Adobe that checks if you have entered the correct password or not.
How secure are PDF passwords?
PDF encryption algorithms
Adobe Acrobat uses different algorithms (RC4 and AES) to encrypt PDF files with 40, 128 and 256-bit keys. Only AES 256 is supported in later versions of Adobe Acrobat.
If the Document Open password uses 40-bit keys (Acrobat 3 compatible encryption) then PDF Password crackers guarantee to remove it. Many online PDF password remover tools can create an unlocked PDF in seconds.
The stronger the PDF document open password, the longer it will take to crack. A strong password consisting of at least 32 characters, a non-dictionary word, and multiple NON-alphanumeric characters could take weeks to crack.
Protection against PDF password cracking
It is now more critical than ever to employ potent authentication and encryption to secure sensitive PDF documents. In an ideal situation, organizations should get rid of standard, reusable passwords in favor of strong authentication methods like public key technology, tokens, and 2FA. Most firms bury their heads in the sand, hoping that their password protected PDFs remain safe. However, it only takes one incident; an occasion where confidential information is breached, to put the reputation of the entire organization at stake. It is important to consider all that is being risked – the company’s business privacy, client’s confidential data, and financial penalties.
Locklizard’s PDF security offers additional security features beyond simple PDF password protection. You can stop screen-grabbing software, enforce expiry dates, revoke PDFs at any time, restrict access to specific users, lock use to devices and locations, and track document use.
If you don’t need strong security for your PDFs, then password protecting PDF files is a cheap solution. However, if you want to effectively control access to your PDF files regardless of their location, then you must use a PDF DRM system to control access and use.
It’s possible to crack any password, and PDF passwords are no exception. As well as methods like brute forcing, PDF document owners can be tricked into handing out the password via a phishing or social engineering attack. As some organizations use the same password for all PDFs, it only takes one cracked password for the entire security system to fail.
However, perhaps the biggest risk flaw in PDF passwords is the fact that any user with the password can share it, along with the document, with somebody who is not supposed to have it.
Is it easy to crack a PDF password?
It depends on whether you are talking about the permissions password or the open password.
The permissions password is easy to crack in seconds using software that you download or an online tool.
The open password requires the use of more traditional password cracking techniques such as brute forcing and rainbow tables, and can be very easy or very hard depending on the strength of the password in question and the encryption used. If a user has been given the open password however (because you gave it to them to open the PDF) they can instantly remove it.
How do I bypass a PDF password for free?
PDF password cracking software and websites can remove the PDF permissions password free of charge. Open passwords are more challenging to break. You’ll likely only be able to remove them for free if they use very old, 40-bit encryption.
Why doesn’t Locklizard Safeguard use passwords?
Passwords have never been an effective way to prevent unauthorized access. They are made for humans, by humans, and as a result, they contain several elements that conflict with good security practice:
passwords that are easy to remember are also easy to crack
passwords that are not easy to remember are more prone to being written down in plaintext in notepad files or sticky notes
passwords are shareable, which makes them prone to internal leaks, phishing attacks, and social engineering
These major flaws are why Locklizard Safeguard does not use passwords to protect PDF files.
What’s the best way to prevent my PDF passwords from being cracked?
The best way is to protect it using a solution that doesn’t use passwords at all. The second best way is to use a randomly generated password that is at least 12 characters long and uses numbers, upper and lowercase letters, and symbols. However, bear in mind that this will only help with your open password. The permissions password can be cracked easily no matter how strong your password is.
Is Microsoft Word password protection better than PDF passwords?
No, Microsoft Words passwords face a very similar issue to Adobe Acrobat’s – the editing restrictions are trivial to remove, and open passwords can be shared, cracked, phished, or social engineered.
How can I share a Locklizard PDF securely?
It does not matter how you share your Locklizard secured PDF files as they can only ever be opened on authorized devices. Unauthorized parties who get hold of a locked PDF will be unable to open it without a valid license file installed on their PC, which can only be obtained by the document’s admin.
Does Dropbox offer better protection for PDF files?
Are passwords effective PDF security for sensitive information?
No. They are too easy to share or remove, and adding permissions to restrict editing and printing is a waste of time.
Do other PDF tools provide better protection than Adobe PDF password security?
No. Regardless of whether they use strong encryption, the encrypted PDF file is still protected with a password that can be cracked or shared. A password-protected PDF file provides weak security and should not be used in a business environment for protection of confidential or sensitive information.
What is a PDF owner password?
This is used to restrict editing, copy paste, and printing. It is just another name for the permissions or master password.
We needed to deliver e-book versions of our handbooks while not compromising on security and digital rights. Safeguard PDF security is easy to use and intuitive.
The implementation was painless and we now have a greener, more secure way of distributing training manuals.
Locklizard’s PDF protection is exactly as described – the features are highly effective and I would give it 5 stars.
I would recommend Locklizard to others - their security is simple to use and fit for purpose. It meets common needs of businesses who have information they want to protect.
We would be happy to recommend Locklizard to any company needing a flexible way to secure PDF files.
Safeguard PDF Security has provided us with a very workable solution for sharing of information in a secure fashion. The support has been excellent and very accommodating.
We can cut accounts for a user five minutes before his class starts and he is ready to go. Happy smiling customer, while we still have security and personalized watermarking.
I have immense respect for the product and Locklizard provide great customer satisfaction and service.
We would recommend Safeguard to other companies for its security, cost and ease of use. It does what we expected it to do and more.
Ease of use is a bonus and the implementation was very easy. The product manual is excellent and Locklizard staff are very accommodating.
We sell a highly valued educational product in an open and competitive market so it was important to ensure we had effective security to protect our digital rights.
We highly recommend Locklizard - a professional company with a competitive and professional PDF Security product.
We would absolutely recommend both Locklizard as a company, and Safeguard PDF Security. It has transformed our study materials to the next level.
Not only did this increase sales, but we also believe that it has increased our customers’ ability to learn, which is even more important!
We would recommend Locklizard Safeguard to other companies that need to protect PDF reports. Customers have found the process of accessing the protected documents to be seamless.
Implementation was easy and technical support has been very responsive to requests for help.
Our company would without reservation recommend Locklizard. Their document DRM software opens up delivery of our new products in a timely fashion while knowing that the content will remain secure.
The return on investment to our company has been immediately evident.
We use Safeguard to make sure that documents cannot be opened outside our local network or from a unauthorized computer in order to copy or print the documents.
It is the most feature rich, affordable, & simple to use PDF security product on the market.
Safeguard PDF Security is simple to administer and meets our needs, consistently delivering secured manuals to our customers with ease.
Return on investment has been elimination of many man hours, printing resources and postage – it is estimated that costs decreased by 50% or more.
We would really recommend Safeguard PDF Security to every publishing company for managing ePubs or e-books securely. It is easy to secure PDF files and simple to distribute them to our authorized customers only.
Locklizard also provides a good customer support experience.
The ROI for us is incalculable. We have the security of knowing that our proprietary documents are secure. This is the entire value of our company.
I would most certainly recommend your PDF security product and already have. The ease of implementation was surprising.
We can now sell our manuals without the need to print them first, saving time, money and helping safeguard the environment.
We would recommend Safeguard PDF DRM – it is the perfect solution to sell and send e-documents securely whilst making sure someone cannot copy them.
We would recommend Locklizard to other companies without hesitation.
Their PDF DRM products provide a manageable, cost effective way to protect intellectual investment and they are always looking for ways to improve them. Moreover, their staff provide an excellent level of support.
Try Safeguard today
Start protecting your PDF files and documents from sharing & piracy