|17 Jan 2010||#1|
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How Secure Is Your PDF?
You don't have to be in the business world very long to know that Adobe PDF documents are used heavily in business-to-business, businesses-to-clients, and internal business operations. PDF documents are considered by some as a standard means of efficiently communicating information and data between users and computers. If you supply someone with a PDF of a document, you can be confident that it will open on their computer and print for them correctly without user intervention.
There is a potential drawback to the convenience and portability that PDF files provide. Once you provide someone with a basic PDF file, you lose control of its alteration and dissemination. This is the problem with many computer file formats when examining the issue from a digital rights management viewpoint. According to Christine Musil from Informative Graphics Corporation, "PDF is convenient because there are many applications to create and view them, but there are a number of applications to edit them." For example, says Musil, "A major university was considering using PDF for unofficial transcripts, but quickly discovered that any student willing to spend $20 on a PDF editor could change their grades." To combat this problem, several technologies exist for lawyers to communicate their information with security that will maintain the integrity of the document. This article will address those technologies with the pros and cons of each technique.
THE ADOBE MEASURE OF SECURITY
First, Adobe offers security through a number of levels. When authoring a PDF file you can apply security using a variety of methods depending on the version of Acrobat you are using and your computing resources. The simplest security an author can apply to a PDF file is password protection, which attempts to secure the PDF file by limiting certain activities by the end user, or the reader. PDF password security can prevent the end user from copying sections of the PDF, printing the contents, or even opening the PDF file without supplying the correct password. The problem with this method of security is that there are a number of tools that can be found via a simple internet search that can break password-protected PDF files. Some of the tools are based on guessing the password used to secure the file to remove the restrictions placed upon it. Therefore, relying on this form of minimal security may not give lawyers the level of integrity for documents that they demand to safeguard sensitive information. However, lawyers will continue to use this method because it does provide a modicum of security and is very easy to implement.
Law.com - How Secure Is Your PDF?
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