Select your PDF files, then in Safeguard Writer, create your PDF restrictions:
In the Safeguard Administration system you can:
Optionally lock users to locations – i.e. a country, workplace, etc. – so they cannot use protected PDF files outside this location. For example, you may want users to view protected PDFs on their mobile devices in the office but not at home.
PDF restrictions enable you to stop users from editing and changing PDF files, copying and pasting PDF content, printing, and saving PDF documents into unprotected formats (i.e. with all PDF restrictions removed).
Adobe was the first company that enabled Publishers of PDF files to prevent PDF editing, copying and printing, but controls could (and still can be) easily bypassed.
Original PDF restriction controls were designed when most of today’s PDF generation software was in its infancy, and some did not exist. And that is why the ability to restrict PDF editing and printing has become more sophisticated over time.
Domestic printing systems were often a dot matrix printer (remember those?) where high quality was not an option, nor was colour or graphics. The focus was not on how to restrict the number of prints available on a PDF, but getting it to work with all the emerging printing technologies. And laser printers were expensive in every sense for many years.
But all that has changed. Today making a high-quality printed copy of a PDF document is trivial, and every PC has a print screen key on it so you can get screen copies at the touch of a button.
So the ability to control PDF use has become increasingly important over time.
Today, there are two main ways to prevent PDF editing, printing, and viewing: Adobe Acrobat permissions and PDF DRM solutions.
Adobe PDF restrictions work through a dual-password system. There’s the open password, which you need to decrypt and view the document, and a permissions password, which is required to edit, print, or copy and paste from it.
This is a very flawed system. Any authorized user can share the view/open password with an unauthorized one along with the document. Meanwhile, because of serious flaws in the Adobe Security Handler, PDF restriction remover tools can strip PDF edit and print restrictions in seconds. Users can also bypass them by opening the PDF on a Mac or uploading it to Google Drive. See removing PDF passwords.
They are therefore completely useless and provide NO protection.
Locklizard Safeguard PDF protection uses a combination of 256-bit AES encryption, licensing, transparent key management, and a secure viewer application to restrict viewing, editing, and printing.
It does not use passwords at all which means they cannot be cracked or shared. Instead, it works like this:
When we talk about the ability to restrict PDF files, what are we actually talking about? Here we describe the various levels to control PDF access and make a PDF read only.
You can prevent people from accessing a PDF document when they are not authorized to do so using encryption. A user must have a key to decrypt the PDF and use it. Commonly, passwords are used to restrict PDF access, but they have many weaknesses which including manageability and security – see removing PDF passwords. You can also use certificates to encrypt PDF files but this requires time-consuming management. See using passwords or certificates to protect PDF files.
A more secure and simple way to stop PDF access is to use a licensing control system that never exposes your keys so that users can’t share them. This is what Locklizard uses.
If you want to prevent PDF sharing, you must stop authorized users from making copies of PDF files which they can then distribute. This can be achieved by locking documents to machines or devices so that when copied to another device they will not open.
The sharing of protected PDF files is of no advantage to users if the recipients do not have the keys that are required to open them.
To stop or restrict PDF editing, you need to control document functionality that users could use to edit text and copy/paste content. This is the core of any PDF DRM system – stopping the use of any functions that could allow someone to modify or copy content.
You may want to stop the editing of PDF content but still let users add and edit annotations and fill in forms. PDF document restrictions should be flexible enough to let you turn off all PDF editing or just allow annotation creation, editing, and form filling.
The easiest way to stop PDF printing is by controlling the ability of users to make printed copies (which users could scan or photocopy). PDF DRM software achieves this functionality by disabling all print functionality and outputting a print restricted PDF.
Sometimes, though, printing has to be allowed for operational reasons. As a result, Safeguard lets you enable unlimited printing or limit the number of times a user can print a PDF. If you enable printing then you might want to add watermarks to the print-out, either to make it difficult to scan or photocopy successfully, or to associate the name of the authorized user so that it is clear where the copy came from. See prevent printing.
To stop PDF copying and the copy/paste of document content requires more than just disabling the use of copy & paste functionality. An easy way to copy PDF content is to screen grab it, so you need to control this too.
Although users can take photos of anything visible on a screen, stopping screen grabbing prevents them from taking high-quality screenshots using software designed to do just that – see stop screen grabbing. You might also want to add watermarks to PDFs to discourage users from taking photographs of the screen with their mobile phone or a similar device.
The ability to restrict PDF downloads from websites is pretty useless. Once a user has downloaded a PDF file they can distribute it to others as they see fit. What you need to stop is the ability of unauthorized users to open PDF files, and that is what a PDF DRM system does.
So don’t be taken in by sites offering to restrict PDF downloads – they don’t provide any real protection against unauthorized sharing and distribution of your PDF files.
This is exactly the same as the PDF download issue. If you expect a specific email application to enforce this control, what happens if a user uses a different one? Even if you could stop a PDF from being emailed, a user can upload the PDF to the cloud and distribute it that way instead.
So again, it all comes down to restricting PDF access and controlling how keys can be accessed and used. A good PDF DRM system will lock PDF documents to authorized user’s devices, so that even if somebody emails them to others, they will remain protected and unopenable.
If you want to restrict PDF files use online (i.e. where they can be opened from) then you need to have the ability to lock PDF use to locations. You may want to restrict PDF files online, for example, if you have published a PDF document that should not be viewed outside certain countries or IP ranges.
Restricting PDF use to locations is important when considering BYOD since users will otherwise have the freedom to use confidential documents in unsuitable environments.
When we talk about the ability to restrict PDF saving, this means preventing users from saving PDF files into unprotected formats (i.e., saving to unencrypted files and then removing PDF restrictions), such as converting a PDF to Word.
A PDF DRM system will have the ‘Save’ or ‘Save As’ functionality automatically disabled so all a user can do is create copies of the protected PDF file.
It is also important that if you do not create a print restricted PDF (i.e. you allow prints), the PDF DRM system will automatically disable print to PDF and stop printing to other file formats.
Having PDFs expire on a set date or after a number of days of use, opens, or prints lets you restrict PDF use to a limited amount of time. You can also use this to restrict access to a PDF after a certain date.
This may be important for documents that have a shelf life, or that need to comply with regulations. See PDF Expiry.
Revoking access to PDF files is a simple way to stop access to files that you have already distributed.
It is important to be able to revoke both PDF documents and users. For example, a user may leave your company and so you would likely want to revoke all their access, whereas you may want to revoke access to specific documents for existing employees. See revoking document access.
In conclusion, there are many reasons why you would need to prevent PDF access and use, but you need to make sure you use a PDF security program that:
Adobe PDF restrictions are quite simplistic, with only the ability to prevent editing, printing, and copying/pasting. They’re also easily removed. Once a user has the open password (which they need to open the document anyway), all they need to do is:
Alternatively, they can just open your document on a Mac device, upload it to Google Docs, or open it in Microsoft Word.
This is because Adobe’s permissions work on a system of mutual trust – where it expects every application that can open PDF files to also adhere to its printing and editing controls. See remove PDF passwords.
If you are wondering how to bypass PDF print restrictions, the answer is the same as above.
Removing print restrictions from a PDF file only requires the user to perform a quick search for an online tool and upload the document to that tool.
Once the PDF restriction removal tool has done its work, the user can print as normal and remove any watermarks. See how to remove a watermark from a PDF.
No. Regardless of whether you use a password or a certificate to encrypt a PDF, restrictions are always protected by use of a separate password.
Attackers can easily break this password using cracking tools or just bypass restrictions using PDF readers that do not obey them.
Restricting PDF editing without using passwords is simple and secure with Safeguard PDF Security. There are no passwords to manage or for users to enter.
Safeguard PDF Security uses a secure licensing system to lock users to PDF files. Decryption keys are securely and transparently delivered to the client device and stored inside an encrypted keystore, which is locked to the device to automatically restrict PDF sharing.
Unlike useless Adobe permissions, which can easily be removed in seconds, Safeguard PDF restrictions cannot be removed and are enforced regardless of where your PDFs reside.
Locklizard’s PDF DRM system will stop sharing, piracy and theft of your ebooks. By using a combination of encryption, DRM, and licensing controls, you can securely distribute ebooks and protect your revenue streams.
See ebook security to find out how to restrict PDF books from sharing and misuse.
It does not matter here if you are talking about an electronic signature (an image of your actual signature) or a digital signature (one that is mathematically calculated). Both types of signature are used to identify you as the document signatory, and users can abuse both if they can edit document content.
To stop a signed PDF from being printed or copied you need to apply PDF restrictions. Since users can easily remove PDF password restrictions (i.e. they are worthless) you should protect PDF files with PDF DRM software that does not use passwords to stop PDF printing, editing, and copying.
If you add a watermark using Adobe, Word, or other Office or PDF applications, users can easily remove them. They can just edit the PDF and remove all watermarks in a single action.
To prevent watermarks from being removed you need PDF DRM software that will stop users editing content. It should also stop users from taking screenshots so they cannot easily remove watermarks in photo editing software.
To protect your electronic signature or signature image from being copied in a PDF document, you need to prevent PDF editing. This includes restricting PDF printing (to prevent your signature being printed and scanned) as weel as copy and copy/paste.
While a good PDF DRM system will stop users taking high-quality screenshots with screen grabbing tools, it is important to bear in mind that they can still take photos of anything displayed on the screen with a camera. Although the quality of a photo may be poor, it is still a good idea to use a background watermark with your signature on top (so that it is hard to remove from the background image) – some Moiré images may be useful for this purpose. See using document watermarks to deter copying.
No. When you digitally sign a PDF document that just proves you signed the document. It can also be used to check if somebody has altered the document, but it does not stop users from editing PDF content or tell you what changes were made.
However, PDF digital signatures are not as secure as you think – they can be bypassed or used in a manner that allows an attacker to add or change information in a digitally signed PDF document.
If you use a PDF DRM system to send protected PDF files to others, there is no need to digitally sign those files since it encrypts them (a modified encrypted file will not open), and you can restrict editing and printing and copy/paste so that users can’t make changes.
No, we only restrict access, edting, copying, sharing and printing of PDF files. if you want to restrict editing or access in PowerPoint for example, then you have to convert your presentation to PDF format.
When protecting a PDF file In Safeguard Writer, go to the ‘Printing & Viewing’ tab and in the ‘Printing’ section check the ‘Allow Printing’ box and the ‘limit number of copies to’ box. The number you enter or select here limits the number of times the PDF can be printed. For example, if you set this value to 1, then you will limit PDF prints to once only for each user.
You can change PDF limited printing controls on a user basis even after you have distributed the PDF file. You can also protect a PDF with zero prints (so that printing is disabled for all users), but grant print access (and limit the number of prints available) to individual users in the Safeguard Administration System.
While you can apply PDF password protection for free with online tools, the restrictions won’t be effective since they can be easily removed – and ineffective restrictions are worth very little.
With Safeguard PDF protection, you get what you pay for. Strong, modular restrictions that cannot be easily bypassed or removed.
Locklizard Safeguard lets users highlight and comment on text using its in-built tools, even if the PDF is protected from editing, copying, etc.