Adding DRM to PDFs with Safeguard PDF DRM Protection
Adding DRM to PDF documents with Safeguard is more secure than Adobe password security and simple.
You’ll need to send your recipients the DRM protected file, alongside a download link for the secure reader application and a valid license. The simplest way of doing so is by ticking “Email license” when you add a new user. See how to add a new user and grant them document access.
Locklizard’s DRM for PDF files ensures your documents are protected regardless of their location. Choose from a wide range of granular DRM restrictions to tightly administer document access and control use.
PDF DRM protection is the process of applying DRM restrictions to PDF files to limit access and control how authorized users can a document. For example whether they can edit, copy and paste, or print content.
PDF DRM systems use encryption, a licensing server, DRM restrictions, and other security functionality for access control and enforcing use.
Safeguard provides multiple DRM controls to prevent copying and sharing:
Though there is no effective evidence to suggest it is true, Adobe is often quoted as the inventor of DRM for PDF files or digital rights management for documents.
What its password-based permissions do have, however, is popularity. The general adoption of the PDF format across multiple platforms has led to Adobe controls being widely accepted as the default situation. Adobe permissions enable you to control or restrict the following:
And one must not forget the control of watermarking, either on-screen or on printed output, or both.
However password based permissions are not the same as those applied through a PDF DRM system. They are easy to bypass or remove. The same is true for watermarks which can be deleted in any PDF editor app.
So, a great many of what we consider to be DRM controls or restrictions may be seen as PDF digital rights management simply because they’re what Adobe decided to provide when it developed its portable document format. However these were poorly implemented by Adobe and turned out to be useless.
PDF DRM software should contain the following restrictions or controls for it to be effective at controlling document access and use.
The core document security functions in PDF digital rights management are preventing printing, copying and pasting, editing and save. This is because without these restrictions users can easily share unprotected copies.
If you don’t lock PDF files to devices then they can be shared. The only secure way to lock use to devices is by installing an application on the device. Some browser-based systems say they lock PDFs to devices, but this ‘protection’ is implemented using cookies, which can be copied using a cookie manager and used on other devices.
Watermarking PDF documents is another common protection method. Many publishers want their customers to be able to make printed copies, but they also recognize that converting a good printed copy of a book into a PDF is trivial. Watermarking helps with this by identifying the purchaser, to help discourage purchased copies from being shared. This is often called “Social DRM”.
Watermarks in DRM combined with other controls to stop copying can be effective as long as they cannot be easily removed by a PDF editor application.
An easy way for users to make high quality copies of documents is to use screen grabbing tools (Windows snipping tool, etc.), or print directly to PDF (if printing is allowed). Despite various claims, no online PDF DRM / web-browser system can prevent this because they can only enforce actions in the browser environment.
If users can share protected PDF files (i.e. password protected PDFs) or login information to an online PDF DRM system, then you have no idea who you are actually tracking. If you can lock a PDF to a physical device then you have more certainty that you are tracking the correct person.
The controls surrounding assembly, filling in forms, comment authoring, signing, and templates are features that Adobe included in its products for collaboration purposes. A major issue with collaboration however is controlling content use since if a user can edit a PDF then they can also copy content. While browser based systems have proved popular for document collaboration, they are not very secure – see Adobe Cloud Security and Google Docs security as examples.
So, there you have it. PDF digital rights management controls represent a well-thought-out series of restrictions and controls to protect sensitive information and intellectual property from unauthorized access and misuse.
PDF Rights Management is useful to any organization that is trying to control the distribution of its documents. An obvious use case is when you’re a publisher selling an ebook – you want to ensure that only those who have legitimately purchased a copy can read your content. However, there are a variety of other organizations that DRM can help.
Here are just a few:
It is important to understand the difference between providing PDF rights management controls and them being effective.
In many instances, PDF rights management controls have been so poorly implemented (see PDF password protection) that they are completely useless. Many websites offer tools dedicated to the cracking of the Adobe implementation – both removal of the open password and the permissions.
Some PDF DRM companies have gone down the route of PDF plugins, but these can be overridden by other plugins and often fail to operate when Adobe Acrobat or PDF Reader is updated. See PDF Security Issues, Flaws and Cracks for articles relating to these attacks.
The most secure way to implement PDF DRM is by using installed apps since you have full control over the environment.
Locklizard have produced software for creating PDF DRM files on the desktop, along with dedicated secure PDF Viewers to open DRM protected PDF files. Our PDF DRM software ensures that your unprotected PDFs never leave your system and that DRM restrictions can be effectively enforced. Other advantages of installed viewers are:
No. Adobe DRM or ADEPT DRM is inherently flawed. It uses passwords, which can just be shared along with the document to grant access to anybody the user wants. Additionally, controls or permissions to stop printing, editing, etc. are easily removed or bypassed due to flaws in the Adobe Security handler.
Yes. There are some downsides to distributing, such as a lack of reflowability based on screen size, but this is balanced out by effective DRM and the ability to preserve the content’s original layout and design.
Password based PDF permissions or restrictions provide no protection against edting, copying, and sharing of content since they can be instantly removed using free software. Some PDF Readers ignore them completely.
It’s very unlikely to. As it stands, free digital rights management software uses one of two techniques: Adobe permissions or converting the content to images. The Adobe permissions system is flawed and easily removed by online tools, and image-based PDFs can just be run through an OCR recognition tool and copied/edited as normal. Neither stops unauthorized distribution anyway, as the user can just share the PDF or share it along with its password if it has one.
A DRM protected PDF file is one that has been encrypted and has DRM restrictions added to it to control who can access it and how it can be used by authorized users.
You need the following:
PDF DRM solutions that use a licensing server can provide transparent key management and enable PDF security settings to be changed after distribution.
To open a DRM protected PDF file you need a license and/or decryption key. A PDF Reader app is required to process the license and/or key and decrypt the DRM protected PDF.
Yes, but the protection is ineffective since it can be easily removed using software such as Epubor. See Adobe Digital Editions security issues.