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
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“The clear leader for PDF DRM protection”
“Our ebook sales have gone through the roof”
“Simple & secure – protects IPR from theft”
Using Passwords to encrypt & protect PDF files
Mention PDF Security and people immediately think of either Adobe Acrobat’s PDF password protection or another PDF encryption solution that uses passwords. But is using PDFs with a password really a secure method of protecting PDFs against unauthorized use and misuse?
Here we cover the advantages and disadvantages of using passwords to encrypt and protect PDFs, how to remove passwords from PDF files, and whether passwords are an adequate method of PDF protection.
Cheap – you can do it yourself or there are a ton of programs out there if you do a search for ‘password generator’
Easy to use, recipients understand the process – ID/password is probably the most common form of access mechanism in use on the planet so there is high user acceptability for ease of use
Acrobat lets you encrypt and password protect opening of a PDF and apply restrictions on use (permissions)
With most PDF encryption software you can encrypt a PDF using AES encryption at 128-bits or more
There are viewers and/or plug-ins for handling PDFs on almost every platform
Strong passwords are difficult to set up and use – people cannot relate to them, there are too many passwords to try to remember and ‘security’ products that offer to keep them safe for you provide a single point of failure should anything go wrong
Can be shared around easily – since they get sent in readable form to the user they can be copied and forwarded to anyone and anywhere
If documents can be used ‘offline’ there is no way of knowing how many people have the password that has been given away/stolen
Can be stolen easily – because they have to be used by humans they cannot be protected. The stronger they get, the more likely the human is to keep it in plaintext on their computer and copy and paste it in. Not always the most satisfactory security approach
If you can change document permissions as the end user, then nothing is actually protected
The choice of controls that can be applied using Adobe Acrobat are rather limited and take no account of the destination environment being used
Password generator and password attack programs have been around a long time as free web downloads and are very effective
There are lists of popular passwords, showing that manual password selection is seriously flawed as an approach
Some products, such as those from Elcomsoft, target very specific environments – breaking Adobe Acrobat passwords, ZIP, RAR, Microsoft Office XP, PGP Keys, and so on
Access is often provided within seconds or minutes using these applications
How to select a strong password for your PDFs and password protect your PDF documents.
Enforcing the use of strong PDF Passwords
A password is a primary line of security against any unauthorized entry into the PDF document. It is used as the key to encrypt and decrypt information. The more powerful a password, the greater the degree of security the PDF document has. To create a strong password, follow these guidelines:
A secure password should be at least 8-9 characters in length (preferably 16 characters).
It must not comprise any private data —particularly a first name, company name or surname.
It should not be the same as any previously used passwords.
It must not be a single dictionary word.
It should comprise of attributes from these four fundamental classes: uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters such as £%$(, etc.
If you follow the basic password protection rules and use strong passwords then your PDF documents should be adequately protected. Bear in mind, however, that if you give the password to others then they can do what they like with the PDF file. The password protects other users from opening the PDF document but nothing else.
Additionally, whilst Adobe Acrobat employs another type of PDF password, a restrictions password, this can be easily removed by PDF password recovery software. So, PDF password protection is really only useful for storing PDFs securely.
In the Adobe PDF standard there are two passwords:
The Document Open password or User password – requires users to type in a password to open the PDF
The Permissions password or master password – lets you alter or remove PDF controls. Users don’t need a password to open the document but they do need a password to change the restrictions you’ve set.
If the User password is already known, or the User password was not set, then there are literally hundreds of tools available, some free, some paid for, that will remove the permissions password almost immediately – 82 Million results on Google, so take your pick.
So, if you are trying to control document usage you have to set a User password on the document or the permissions password can be removed trivially.
This creates the obvious problem that the people you are sending protected documents to need to have the User password in order to read it. And once the User password is known, users can then use PDF password removal tools (although there are also other simpler methods – see Removing PDF Passwords) to trivially remove the permissions password and do what they like with the document. This is exactly the same weakness with sending encrypted documents that do not have DRM controls – the recipient can do what they like and you have no way of stopping them.
In fact, the entire process can be broken down into three steps:
upload the PDF to a PDF password removal service
enter the user password (if applicable)
press a button to remove the permissions password and download the unprotected file
The only time there is some control, then, is if someone (i.e. an unauthorized user) gets hold of a User password protected document, not knowing what the password is. But even here companies such as Elcomsoft, famous for being the first to break the User password system, provide PDF password removal tools to carry out dictionary attacks (common password words such as ‘password’) and ‘brute force’ attacks (which will get you there eventually unless the password is very strong).
How to protect a PDF without a password using Locklizard
No. The conclusion you have to come to is that although Adobe Acrobat PDF password protection seems easy, most implementations are not actually effective. That is fine if you just want to appear to have some security. As an approach, it only starts to become practical with very long passwords together with other controls monitoring or preventing unauthorized use.
There are stronger approaches than protecting a PDF with a password to ensure PDF protection. They start with the introduction of a recipient Identifier (ID) as well as a key, and go on to use cryptography to prevent unauthorised use by identifying hardware and linking it to the license rather than trying to identify the end user (identifying the hardware is not the same as identifying the MAC address given in a network adapter which can be changed or masked relatively easily).
Locklizard for example, protects PDF files without passwords – using keys that are transparently and securely relayed and locked to user devices so they are not exposed to either users or third party applications. We also use other security mechanisms such as 256-bit AES encryption, licensing controls, and proprietary protection methods to ensure PDF documents remain protected against unauthorized use and misuse no matter where they reside. See our DRM Technology.
How does Locklizard differ from PDF password protection?
Locklizard combines a passwordless, transparent key-based authentication system with its secure viewer application, which the user installs on their computer, tablet, or mobile phone. Admins don’t need to set up any complex systems or policies – they just add the user to the admin portal after protecting the document and they are automatically sent an email with their license file.
Once a user activates their license, it is locked to their machine. If a user does not have a license file that is authorized to decrypt and open the file, they will not be able to do so. The authorization to view a file can be revoked remotely at any point.
In addition, Locklizard has various irremovable controls that are enforced by its viewer application. By default, Locklizard Safeguard protects against editing, copying, printing, and screenshotting. It can also be used to allow a certain number of prints, add watermarks, set a self-destruct timer, and more.
How do I password protect a PDF without Acrobat?
You can use any other PDF editing software, such as Foxit, Sejda, or PDF element to password protect a PDF. In Foxit, just press ‘Secure Document > Password Protect’ and enter a secure document open password.
How do I password protect a PDF file for free?
You can use one of many online tools. Adobe has its own online tool, but they all work more or less the same. Just bear in mind that you’ll be uploading your document to a remote cloud server that could be compromized in the future.
Instead, you may want to try the open-source PDFEncrypt app, which allows you to password protect a PDF locally.
How do I password protect a PDF in Office 365?
Open the file in Microsoft Word and press ‘File > Info > Protect Document > Encrypt with Password’. Type a strong password, then save it to apply the changes.
How do I send documents securely via email?
Once you password protect a document it will be secure in transit and when it isn’t being used provided the password is strong. However, password protection won’t prevent a user from sharing the PDF and its password with somebody else. For full protection, you should consider using a PDF DRM solution instead.
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.
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