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Using PDF Passwords to Control Document Usage

Password protecting PDF documents

Password Protecting PDF documents

As one of the earliest methods of protected PDF documents, the use of passwords has been in existence for decades. However, using PDF passwords to control document usage has exponentially gained bad press over the years, because of the disappointing ways in which document creators choose and maintain their passwords and how security has waned with regards to passwords as a poor security mechanism.

In spite of technological advancement and decades of computer usage, security experts are still finding it difficult to educate and inform people on how to create strong passwords in order to protect their documents. Two of the most popular passwords that are still prevalent in most companies are ‘123456’ and ‘password’. Most users opt for convenience over security when it comes to choosing passwords for protecting their documents, which compromises the very fabric of their data.

In addition, managing numerous passwords for large quantities of PDF files can become a nightmare. When numerous passwords are used, creating a system to store the passwords can be a huge burden. To prevent costly management overheads, some companies employ a standard password to be used for all files, which is a huge security weakness.

If you type the keywords ‘Password protect PDF’ online, the Internet displays hundreds of PDF password applications freely available for use. And amongst those are the most popular PDF password cracking programs which can easily remove the password, irrespective of whether the document has been encrypted with a strong algorithm. As result, an unauthorized user or hacker is then able to use a copy of the original PDF without any passwords or security settings in place.

If it is highly imperative that passwords have to be used for securing data in PDF documents, then it is important to continuously keep changing those passwords and to use different passwords for every document. It is dangerous to become complacent if the growing list of passwords for your documents are not maintained or stored securely. If these passwords need to be physically maintained, they must be stored in a private and secure location. One of the highest priorities of securing classified documents is in protecting the entryway – that is the password that is protecting the document.

In a number of cases password protect pdf documents that have been compromised has happened due to the intentional or unintentional involvement of the document creator. This does not mean that there is a deliberate dishonesty or maliciousness among document users, rather they might not be aware of the importance of maintaining strong passwords or storing them in a proper manner, which is an important task that they need to perform.

At the end of the day, the use of passwords to securely protect PDF data is not the way forward. Look for leading PDF protection software like that available from Locklizard, that does not use archaic passwords to secure PDF documents. It is now possible to securely safeguard PDF documents against unauthorised usage and misuse without the need for passwords and the management overheads that that entails.

Digital Rights Management (DRM) and public key encryption is the way forward to protect PDF files and documents. PDF files with DRM protection can be easily prevented from being duplicated, edited, shared, screen grabbed, or printed by unauthorised users. In addition, expiration dates and revoking rights can also be enforced. All this, without any passwords to type in, manage, store or convey to others.

Posted on 12th June 2015 in articles

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