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Secure PDF Forms

PDF Form Protection – lock form fields, stop editing, securely distribute

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  PDF form security issues

PDF forms are an easy way to collect user data but they suffer from multiple security issues:

  1. Form content (text and fields on the form) can be easily modified.
  2. Submitted field content can be altered after submission.  Adobe Acrobat and other PDF editing software enable users to save fillable forms after data has been entered and edit it later – there is nothing to stop third parties removing or editing this data either.
  3. Digitally signed PDF files are not as secure as you might think.  Objects that are being or have been signed may contain references to elsewhere in the PDF document or to somewhere outside the document where the content has not been digitally signed, and that content can be altered.

The Adobe Solution to PDF form protection

Adobe Acrobat (and other PDF editing software) enable users to flatten the PDF by using the ‘Print to PDF file’ option which creates a graphic image of the document inside a PDF file.  This can help stop field data being altered after submission (although someone could still edit the graphic image).  However, you may not want users being able to print and copy the form, especially if you are selling a PDF form and want to stop it from being edited and resold by someone else.

Adobe also enable you to apply restrictions to PDF forms (password protect PDF form) so that users can fill and sign a form but not change or edit it.  However these restrictions are enforced using the standard Adobe PDF password protection (encrypt with password option) and can be easily removed – see removing PDF passwords.  So Adobe PDF form security with passwords is completely useless.

  Stop PDF forms from being edited or form data modified after submission

  • Protect form content from copying and saving

    Locklizard’s DRM controls ensure users cannot copy your forms:

    • protect form content from being copied (users cannot copy and paste content to other applications)
    • stops screen grabbing tools (so users cannot take high quality screenshots)
    • saves fillable PDF forms as read only
    • prevents PDF forms from being saved to unprotected formats
    • stops users sharing PDF forms – forms are locked to authorized user’s devices

    For additional PDF form security, you can lock PDF forms to country and IP locations.

  • Protect PDF form & form fields from editing

    Safeguard PDF Security enables you to lock a PDF form and its fields so that form content cannot be edited and modified.

    It automatically saves fillable PDFs as read only so that form content is always protected.

    Form fields cannot be modified – only data can be entered by a user.

    The Safeguard Secure PDF Viewer does not make any tools available to users that enables them to edit form content.  Your form will theefore remain the way you intended it to be.

  • Control or stop printing

    Disabling printing (this is applied by default) is an important aspect of secure PDF form distribution as it ensures printed copies cannot be made available to unauthorized users or forms scanned back in and altered.

    However, if you want users to be able to make printed copies then you can:

    1. limit the number of high quality prints allowed
    2. enforce color documents to be printed in black & white or grayscale
    3. log each time a form is printed (when and where this occurred)
    4. watermark printed content with user identifiable information (using dynamic watermarks that insert user and system information at print time) to discourage photocopying and subsequent distribution

    Locklizard automatically prevent printing to file drivers so that users cannot print to unprotected PDF files and other digital document formats.

  • Control form expiry

    Setting a PDF form to expire can be useful if your form is part of teaching material or a competition (say a quiz) where you want to time limit access.

    Expiry controlled forms stop being available automatically – so stopping access to them does not have to be administered manually.

    Safeguard PDF security enables you to securely distribute forms that automatically expire:

    • on a fixed date
    • after a number of days use
    • after a number of views
    • after a number of prints

    So you have full control over how long your secure PDF forms can be viewed and printed.

  • Secure PDF form submission & form field encryption

    Secure PDF form submission is an important part of form security since it ensures data that has been entered by a user cannot be modified after submission.

    With a normal PDF form, form data is sent in plain text since it is part of the PDF document.  This means that it is not protected when stored on a server.

    Encrypting form fields (encoding form fields) ensures they cannot be modified after the form has been filled out and submitted.

    Some companies use JavaScript to encrypt form data, but even Adobe advise users not to enable JavaScript in PDF files due to PDF security issues – it is regularly used by hackers to gain access to computers.

    Locklizard store PDF form data in an XML file which can be encrypted separately when the form is submitted.  This ensures sensitive data like credit card information is always protected.

  • Revoking access

    There are going to be times when you have distributed forms that are no longer valid or contracts with third parties are no longer active.

    Locklizard enable you to instantly revoke access to PDF forms for all or individual users, or revoke user access to all or individual forms in one go so that they are no longer accessible.

    Being able to revoke access is an important feature of secure PDF form distribution since it ensures you retain full control over user’s access to documents regardless of where they are located.

  • Logging form use

    There may be occasions when you want to see if a PDF form you have distributed securely has been viewed and/or printed, and where, when and how often this occurred.

    Locklizard enables you to track and monitor PDF files so you can identify any suspicious activity and instantly revoke access if required.

  How do I secure PDF fillable forms / lock PDF form after filling out using Safeguard PDF Security?

How to save fillable PDF as read only or PDF form as read only

To save a fillable PDF as read only (protect PDF form from editing and protect form content from being copied):

  1. Download and install Safeguard PDF Writer.
  2. In Windows File Explorer, right-click on the PDF file that contains the form (the PDF could consist of just a form or multiple document pages and a form) and select the ‘Make secure PDF’ option.
  3. Select the DRM controls you want to apply (access, expiry, etc.).

Safeguard PDF Security will automatically save the fillable PDF form as read only – lock the PDF form against editing and modification and prevent the PDF form from being saved in unprotected formats.

Safeguard PDF Security supports basic forms functionalityCustom user JavaScript is NOT supported to prevent forms being exposed to AcroForm vulnerabilties.

How to lock a PDF form with Safeguard PDF Writer

Locking PDF forms and form fields with Safeguard is more secure than Adobe password protection & simple.

Safeguard automatically protects PDF forms from unauthorized sharing:

  • PDF forms are always locked from being changed (read only).
  • Users cannot copy or save protected PDF forms into unprotected files, edit or print them.
  • There are no passwords to enter or remove.
  • If a locked PDF form is sent to a unauthorized user they will not be able to open it since they need a decryption key.
  • PDF forms are automatically locked to authorized devices.
  • You can lock users to country and IP locations.
  • Stops Windows print screen and third party screen grabbers from grabbing screenshots.
  • Revoke protected PDF forms at any time.

locking pdfs

  Secure PDF form distribution: distributing a PDF form securely

With password based systems such as Adobe PDF password protection users can share PDF forms and their passwords with others.  So PDF password protection does not enable you to distribute a PDF form securely.

Locklizard use public key technology with a secure and secret key transfer mechanism so that keys are never exposed to users and interfaces where they can be readily exposed.  Document keys are locked to authorized devices within a keystore, so if the keystore is copied to another device it will fail to work.

Locklizards PDF security stops users sharing protected PDF forms with others and enables you to securely distribute PDF forms without fear of them being passed on to unauthorized parties.  This is especially useful if your IPR is the form itself and you want to protect revenue generating content from being pirated and misused or you want to protect form content from unauthorized disclosure and modification.

Locklizard provides total and secure PDF form distribution even enables you to encrypt form data on submission for additional security.

Why Locklizard for Secure PDF Forms?

Save fillable PDF as read only: securely lock, distribute & submit PDF forms without passwords

Locklizard provides total PDF form protection with US Gov strength AES encryption and public key technology to ensure your forms, form fields and data remain protected no matter where they reside.

  • Our DRM PDF Security products enable secure PDF form distribution without insecure passwords or plug-ins, and enforce access, location, expiry, and usage controls.
  • Unlike Adobe Permissions which can be easily removed, our DRM controls persistently protect your PDF forms and enable you to revoke them at any time regardless of where they are located.
  • Secure PDF form submission – form data can be encrypted on submission so that it cannot be modified after the form has been filled out and submitted.  Form data is stored encrypted on the server so that it always remains protected.
  • No keys are exposed to users or interfaces and PDF forms are only ever decrypted in memory (no temporary files are created that could be easily copied) – see our DRM technology.
  • Documents are protected on your computer so there are no unprotected copies uploaded to the cloud where they could be compromized.  Distribute protected PDF forms just like any other PDF file – by email, upload to a web site, etc.
  • Our easy to use adminsitration system provides simple user and document management and unlike passwords, keys are transparently and securely managed for you.

Read our customer testimonials and case studies to see why organizations use Locklizard PDF security to protect PDF forms, lock form fields from editing, distribute & share PDF forms securely, and enable secure PDF form submission.

Customer Testimonials