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
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Removing passwords from PDF files
A History of PDF Password removal
It’s possible to use passwords to protect PDF files from being opened, printed, or altered. A PDF file that has been secured with the help of a robust password has supposedly enough protection to avoid duplication or distribution by unauthorized users (assuming, of course, that the authorized recipient who has been given the password does not share it with others). The creator of a PDF file can use password protection to limit user access to the file (document contents are encrypted), prevent printing, copying of text from the file, and editing the content in the document. However, the question arises: what happens if the password has been forgotten?
Numerous tools to remove a password from PDF can be used to gain access to a PDF despite a lost password. Here, it is important to mention that PDF password protection remover tools were initially invented to be used only under appropriate circumstances – that is, only if the original creator has lost the password or the user has a legal right to view and modify the PDF but does not have it. However, as with all applications, they were quickly misused to help unauthorized users unlock a PDF or remove permissions so that they can copy and share the document.
One might ask: how did PDF password remover tools become so effective? This article provides a clue – “Adobe’s PDF protection scheme is a classic example of security through obscurity. They encrypt the content of a PDF file and hope that no one figures out how to decrypt it.”
PDF cracking programs are highly effective in decrypting PDF files and many of them are available for free. They use various methods to remove a password from a PDF, such as dictionary attacks. Dictionary attacks use a massive database of popular and common passwords and try all of them to see if any work. The process takes maybe a few minutes for thousands of passwords. Typical passwords NOT to use include: 123456, 123456789, password,. admin, 12345678, qwerty, 1234567, 111111, photoshop, 123123, 1234567890, 000000, abc123, 1234, adobe1, macromedia, azerty, iloveyou, aaaaaa, 654321, fred. If you want to share PDF files securely, then using obvious passwords is not going to provide much protection.
PDF Password cracking Timeline
Adobe PDF Security and FileOpen cracked
Feds arrest Russian cracker for breaking Adobe’s PDF security controls. Last year, ElcomSoft produced a piece of software that cracked FileOpen Systems code, since it relies on Adobe Acrobat to provide PDF security.
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 PDF files. It provides super-fast guaranteed recovery of PDF files with 40-bit encryption.
ElcomSoft release PDF password cracker that breaks 128 bit encryption
ElcomSoft’s CEO said that document-level password protection technically isn’t DRM (digital rights management). Because of the plug-in architecture of Acrobat and PDF readers, it makes PDF a less-secure platform for DRM.
Adobe 8 PDF password security broken
A single click of a button in pdf-Recover will remove the password from a PDF, regardless of whether it has been encrypted using 40-bit RC4, 128-bit RC4 or even the latest 128-bit AES Adobe 8 Generation technology.
Elcomsoft removes Adobe Acrobat PDF 9 passwords easily
ElcomSoft claim that despite the 256-bit encryption, Acrobat 9 passwords are susceptible to more efficient brute forcing than Acrobat 8 due to poor implementation – a password checking routine consisting of just one call to the SHA256 hash function.
Types of PDF Passwords
In the Adobe PDF standard there are two passwords you can apply to encrypt a PDF file:
The Document Open password– required to open the PDF file
The Permissions password– required to set, change or remove PDF restrictions
The stronger the document open password, the longer it will take to crack or remove a password from the PDF with PDF user password remover tools. The permissions password, however, can be broken trivially no matter how strong it is. This is due to inherent weaknesses (or flaws) in the design of the Acrobat Standard Security handler. See How Secure Is PDF?.
In fact, when it comes to removing PDF permissions, you don’t even need to use a password removal program – there are other, simpler methods – see Removing PDF Restrictions. These make it trivial to remove permissions from a PDF and do what you like with the document.
You therefore must add a Document Open password to the PDF or the permissions password can be easily removed. However, the dilemma is that the people you are sending protected PDF files to need to have the Document Open passwords in order to read them. So, protection is only provided if someone (i.e. an unauthorized user) gets hold of a password-protected PDF, not knowing what the password is. But even here PDF password remover companies provide PDF cracking tools that will remove anything but the strongest of Document Open passwords.
Types of PDF Password remover tools & technology
If you are looking at password remover tools for your legitimate use (to unlock PDF files that you have forgotten the password for) then you will need to exercise a great deal of caution with freely available password remover tools. Many password removal tools that are free require the user to download irrelevant software onto their computer. Some password removal tools, for example a well-known software called “PDF Unlocker”, gets the user to install unnecessary plug-ins and browser toolbars in order to use it. It is important to be careful while downloading such tools, as these additional extensions and plug-ins are often nothing but completely unnecessary bloatware that will slow a computer. A free online PDF password remover tool, or a well-known paid password remover tool such as Elcomsoft EDPR, might therefore be a wiser choice.
Current cracking tools use several techniques to remove a PDF User password and unlock PDF files:
Common password lists – this tries the most poplular words people often use as password – e.g. password, master, 123456, etc. If the common passwords fail they switch to using words from dictionaries.
Dictionary attacks – this tries common words found in a dictionary, often in several different languages. Single dictionary words can be cracked in minutes.
Brute force – they start with a password that is a blank field, add 1 bit and try that. If it fails they add another bit and try again until they find it, which is guaranteed. So the shorter the password the quicker the cracker gets there.
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.
How to remove password from PDF files
To remove PDF password protection from a PDF file, look into some of these safe PDF password remover tools:
PDF Password remover tools
Elcomsoft – removes PDF user and owner passwords. Adobe PDF user passwords removed by brute force and dictionary attacks.
Openwall – a fast password cracker for PDF and other file types.
Gua PDF – for small PDF files, when the Owner password has been forgotten or misplaced.
All of the PDF password remover tools can easily remove the Permissions password (and thus the document restrictions) in seconds.
How to remove the open password from a PDF?
The document open password (or owner password) may be harder to remove, depending on the strength of the password used (length and character combination) and the encryption algorithm. To remove the PDF document open password, you will have to purchase PDF user password remover software, as freeware only lets you remove the permissions password from a PDF (remove PDF restrictions). Some companies, such as Elcomsoft, specialize in PDF user password remover tools using various methods such as dictionary attacks and brute force to eventually crack the password.
Be wary of PDF cracking tools that offer an online service, because you have to upload your PDF file to their servers, where it’s decrypted. If you have confidential information stored in the PDF, you may therefore want to consider PDF password removal tools that you install on your computer. Otherwise, you’re granting a third-party the ability to read and copy your sensitive information.
Reasons not to Password Protect PDF files
Password removal software
Password removal or password cracking programs have been around a long time as free web downloads and are very effective.
Passwords are insecure
There are lists of popular passwords, showing that manual password selection is seriously flawed as an approach. PDF password cracking programs take advantage of this.
Any password can be removed
Some password removal programs, such as those from Elcomsoft, target very specific environments – removing Adobe PDF passwords, ZIP, RAR, Microsoft Office XP, PGP Keys, etc.
PDF passwords can be removed in seconds
Access is often provided within seconds or minutes – the weaker the PDF password the easier it is to remove. An Adobe permissions password can be removed in seconds no matter how strong it is.
Removing permissions from a PDF without password removal tools
PDF permissions (also called PDF restrictions), are ‘protected’ with the use of an Permissions password. However the Permissions password can be easily removed in seconds without using PDF password remover tools:
The reason PDF permisssions password removal is so simple is that Adobe relies on the honor system for PDF password security (i.e. please obey the restrictions placed on this document). So it would be fair to say that applying PDF Permissions passwords are a waste of time because all of the above methods effectively renders them useless.
Remove protection from PDF files – is it that easy?
A well-known technology website offered technical experts the opportunity to crack a 10,000+ entry-encrypted password document and asked them to breach the security of the file. The winner of the project was able to get over 95 percent of the entries while the other participants were able to crack 75 percent, in a matter of few hours. How the ‘crackers’ did it was through the unfortunate and irresponsible use of non-randomized passwords by the account holders. Some of the commonly used passwords in the encrypted file included “123456,” “1234567,” “password,” hello123,” “hello1,” “admin” etc.
Unlocking password protected PDF files is more likely if the password protecting them is simple and weak – PDF documents are only as safe as the passwords that are safeguarding them. To prevent the data breach of a PDF file, make use of passwords that are more than seven characters long and that also include at least one number and one special character. Experts widely agree that simple words such as a straight dictionary word should not be used. Also, refrain from using short length passwords. See PDF Password Tips.
The concerns regarding locking PDF documents with passwords are extremely valid given the value and importance of the contents contained within them. Having said that, it is also important for users to be extremely cautious when sharing PDF files and documents amongst one another, as this may cause documents to be inadvertently leaked to unauthorized parties. There have been cases where even after much caution, documents have fallen into unintended hands. This is why it is extremely important to integrate additional safety measures into documents.
Protection against PDF password remover tools
To prevent users from removing the password from a PDF, employ a secure solution that does not use passwords for protection or expose keys to users or any third-party interfaces or applications.
Locklizard PDF protection software, for example, protects PDF documents without the use of passwords so there are none to forget or pass on to others.
We use AES encryption, real-time licensing, and public key technology, with keys that are never exposed to any interface for attack so that unauthorized users cannot unlock PDF files or remove permissions. We do not rely on Adobe for security (the Adobe Security Handler is seriously flawed) or insecure plugins to any third-party applications. See our DRM Technology for the methods we use to protect PDFs from unauthorized use or misuse. PDF files are locked to individual devices so they cannot be shared and additionally can be locked to IP ranges and country locations.
Protect and control your PDF documents securely no matter where they reside.
How to remove password encryption from a PDF?
The decryption keys of a PDF file are linked to its user password. To remove password encryption from a PDF, then, you have to use a PDF user password remover. Usually, this means paying for a solution, such as Elcomsoft Password Recovery, as free tools typically only remove the permissions password.
Is it possible to remove the password from my PDF file?
If you’re talking about the permissions password, absolutely. You can successfully remove permissions from a PDF 100% of the time since password restrictions are completely useless. The open password you will have to crack using traditional password cracking methods, which are very effective if it is short to medium length, but too slow to be worthwhile on long passwords with many numbers and symbols.
How long does it take to crack the open password on a PDF file?
In short: it depends how secure the password is. Modern technology can crack simple passwords of up 10 characters instantly. Add more characters and particularly symbols, numbers, and capital letters, and you could be looking at anywhere from an hour to 7 quadrillion years. Check out our infographic for more detail.
How do I remove a password from a PDF on Android without the password?
There are no apps in the Google Play store that will remove the password from a PDF file when you do not know it. If you just need to remove the permissions from a PDF, you can upload it from your phone to an online tool. However, this will provide the website owner with a decrypted version of your document, which is not recommended for confidential material.
An open password cannot be removed online or with a mobile app, so you will have to use a computer and software like Elcomsoft.
Can you remove PDF password security from Locklizard encrypted files?
No, Locklizard does not use passwords as a security method to protect PDF files. There are no passwords to enter or remove. Only authorized users can open protected PDF files and permissions cannot be removed using third-party tools.
Locklizard provides an easy way to create a protected PDF document on your desktop which you can distribute over the Internet without fear of it being copied and shared with unauthorized users. The encrypted PDF file is locked to a user’s device, and editing, copy & paste, and printing is prevented by default. Locked PDF files cannot be modified in a PDF editor (so watermarks cannot be removed), or saved to a new PDF file that is unprotected. And if you want to allow printing then we prevent saving to a PDF printer such as MicroSoft print to PDF.
Locklizard uses secure and transparent key management with a licensing system and DRM controls to ensure your PDF documents are fully protected regardless of their location.
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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