Tracking PDFs with Safeguard PDF security
Tracking PDF Files: how does it work?
Tracking PDF document use always sounds like a really neat idea. Monitoring PDF use should tell you who opened or printed a document, when it was, and where they did it. At least in theory.
There are normally two reasons for wanting to track PDF files:
- marketing analysis – which are the most popular PDF documents in terms of how often they are read rather than just numbers sold. If you are monitoring PDF use then you can see if a document is opened lots of times by the same person.
- authorized use – did someone unauthorized try to open a document, or an authorized person open it from a ‘strange’ location. So when you have a question about document distribution you can track PDF files and see where they went.
To track PDF usage you have two choices for how you do it. You could be using either a
- page server, handing individual pages down to a client
- reporting server that relays from the client when a document is opened (and maybe when it closes, but most likely not)
So the first thing to understand is when tracking PDF documents you are forcing recipients to always be online. Because the monitoring PDF technology needs to ‘phone home’ to tell you what is happening.
For a business proposition this could be a disaster. Many people need offline access to documents, but a PDF tracker cannot see that. So monitoring PDF ebooks and magazines may not be such a good idea.
Tracking PDF documents and privacy issues
Privacy is becoming a bigger issue. In many countries you must register what it is that you intend to collect if it relates to personal information – and in the EU the opinion is that anything linking a person to an IP address is personal data. You also have to register what you will use the data for, and ask the consumer for their informed consent to monitoring. So you may have to set up a raft of policies and procedures before you can track PDF use.
This does not apply to business users, but it may be a fine point. Plenty of institutions, such as banks, do not, as a matter of policy, allow PDF tracking of documents used internally. Some PDF tracker products cannot be used in those environments.
And where is the PDF document that is being tracked? Some theories say you can track pdf documents by IP address, but that doesn’t mean much if you are seeing an ISP with thousands of customers. Also, PDF tracking by email address may not mean so much if it’s not a company email address since many people use freemail accounts to avoid identification.
Tracking PDF documents and identifying users
Finally, in PDF monitoring, who is the recipient? On a home PC or a laptop it is whoever is using it. You don’t ever know who is actually sitting in front of the screen (although that might be an interesting and expensive research project). People are generally completely relaxed about letting others use their computers, so you may not be monitoring what you think.
Why Safeguard to Track PDF Files?
Safeguard to track PDFs vs PDF Tracker applications
As well as tracking PDF use, Safeguard PDF Security enables you to:
- Stops users sharing PDFs and editing, copying and pasting content
- Stop printing or limit the number of prints
- Locks PDF files to specific devices and locations
- Make PDFs expire on a specific date, after a number of views, after a number of prints, or after a number of days from opening
- Stop screen grabbing applications and Windows print screen
- Watermark viewed and printed pages with dynamic user and system data
- Revoke PDFs at any time if you think they are being misused
Safeguard PDF security is much more than a PDF tracking solution – it enables you to distribute and/or sell PDFs securely and control their use regardless of their location.
Logging overall use
Logging document views
Logging document prints