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About access control for PDF Documents

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The many PDF files that are normally sent via emails or internet postings are largely unsecured and this predisposes them to risks such as being viewed and edited by and/or being forwarded to unauthorized parties. There is therefore a need to protect PDF documents so that publishers can be assured of incomes from subscriptions, and where sensitive documents are concerned, protect company secrets.

access control for PDF documents is mainly implemented through digital rights management (DRM) platforms and as such, DRM controls are actually rights which determine what the recipients can do with your PDF documents. The whole batch of controls is packaged into document control software suites which publishers and authors can implement on their servers.

The best PDF access control systems consider all the situations that your PDF files may be predisposed to i.e. printing, modifying, saving, copying, screen grabbing and screen shots, among others, once in the hands of the user. This way, despite the documents not being in your hands, you can still wield remote control over them no matter where they are. Document control software suites go further by enabling you to set expiration dates and thus determine how long an authorized user can access the document. This capability is certainly a necessity for subscription-based products such as magazines. Further, you can determine if printing is allowed, and if so how many copies can be made. Your suite of choice can also include watermarking features which display on the printouts the name and organization and other details of the person who used the document.

This type of PDF DRM access control can be applied to all types of PDF documents containing all manner of information such as corporate documents, reports, eBooks and so forth. To fully protect PDF files document control software suites need their own special viewers which users must use if they intend to access your protected documents. The concept of the viewer is to check with the author’s server (online) to see whether the user has permission to access the document and to also ensure that the documents are decrypted on-the-fly in memory and that code such as plugins and JavaScript cannot be loaded in order to circumvent document security.

To be totally secure we need PDF document control software that is not based on passwords since, as it has been demonstrated time and again, these can be broken by password cracking tools readily and freely available on the Internet. The software itself needs to be hard to break and as such it should feature public key technology and not less than 256-bit AES encryption. Using it should be as easy as selecting the PDF document and choosing the access control features you desire for the document.

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