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Control Your Document Distribution Through Acrobat Security

by anonymous

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Acrobat security has always been a concern when proprietary or sensitive documents are generated. The information must be distributed to a particular audience, but cannot be distributed outside that audience. This is a difficult prospect: there are so many ways to bypass Document Rights Management (DRM) strategies.


Distribution controls can be foiled by innocent users as well as deliberate information thieves. The simplest way to breaking the distribution barrier is to take the basic PDF document and copy it to a new location, or email it to another receiver. One of the basic controls is password protection. The password can be delivered through a separate channel than the PDF document, helping ensure that only target receivers can view the document. Of course, this requires a more complex distribution system. Unfortunately, an innocent person could take the secure document and distribute the password with the document, believing that they are helping. In addition, the user could forget the password, requiring an even more complex distribution system to resend the password. In addition, the password itself is not always secure, in some cases making it almost as easy to acquire as the stolen document.


A second way to bypass Adobe DRM PDF measures is to print the document and distribute the paper copy. An effective protection system must disable the print options when viewing the document. The standard free Adobe Reader does not have this capability.


In addition, the full Adobe editor can alter the properties of the target document. For instance, if the original document is password protected, and the person has the password, they can open the document in the editor and create a copy without the password protection.


Even when all of these avenues for uncontrolled dissemination are controlled, a user can still thwart Acrobat security by simply performing a screen grab on the document. For decades, Windows machines have included the Print Screen button, which allows a screenshot to be pasted into any image-editing program. With the advent of Windows Vista, this process became even simpler. A Snipping Tool was added to the software which made it simple to capture any image on the screen, even that of a sensitive document.


The only way to combat these issues in an integrated, reliable fashion is to use a special viewer that displays PDF documents from a designated server. In this way, PDF documents are not transmitted to end locations. Adobe DRM PDF security is enforced by node-locked controls. A user must login before gaining access. None of the hacks mentioned are allowed from the viewer. This is a robust system for delivering PDF information only to designated recipients.



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