What Is PDF Protection? How To Encrypt PDF Files With Passwords & Permissions
PDF protection is about limiting or preventing access to a PDF document and/or preventing its copy and print. By limiting access to designated users one can prevent sharing, unauthorized use and redistribution. By applying copy protection users can be restricted to a read and view only without the ability to copy the content of your PDF for use elsewhere.
PDF protection is needed to protect proprietary information from falling into the wrong hands and to prevent plagiarism. Online schools use the PDF format because it is easily managed, portable and a good presentation tool for multi-paged lessons and ebooks. But in its natural form, ie: readable in any PDF reader that may be available, it is not a secure document format and its content can easily be extracted and saved into other file formats.
So the first thing to do is to encrypt the PDF. But any encryption decipherable by a generic PDF reader will contain the keys to that decryption and consequently be insecure. So proprietary encryption is required for use with a proprietary reader that will only display the PDF contents when all other protection requirements are satisfied, whether that be user identification or use within the active period defined by document expiration.
Password permission is the most basic form of DRM and all PDF makers offer password protection options. But again, unless the PDF document uses a proprietary reader that password can be easily extracted and even removed by using one of many software applications that can extract data from normal PDF content. Yes, the contents of a PDF document may look as though it is encrypted, but that encryption routine is known to all generic PDF readers.
Expiration can be set to limit a PDF document's life span, but as with passwords, unless encryption for a proprietary reader is used that expiration can be exploited. Also, one pitfall with using simple expiration is that the date is usually checked by the user's computer date setting which can be altered. Only a proprietary reader that provides the option of time checks against an online time server can prevent that exploit.
Expiration is usually set by calendar date, after which the PDF document can no longer be opened. Unfortunately that expiration date gets embedded into the PDF document so it cannot be changed without creating a replacement. So in cases where an author wants to give each user say 3 months usage, then a better idea is to use expiration that commences from the user's first opening of the document. To expire by days or hours from first use requires monitoring of a user's document usage and that is where the call-to-home of ArtistScope's unique DRM comes in.
DRM & Access Rights Management
Passwords are considered to be DRM and they can restrict access to PDF documents, but passwords can be shared with other users. So password protection does not really prevent sharing or unauthorized redistribution at all.
A better method of access rights management is to use authorization that can be limited per user and the best way to do that is to detect unique computer ID and validate it against each user account. By using a unique Computer ID that cannot be duplicated, authors can be assured that only the intended users can open their documents. For computer IDs there are mainly two options. One is by using the Mac Address of the computer which used in simple protect solutions. But MAC Address is dependent on the user being connected to the Internet at the time, and for each connection type whether it be by LAN WiFi or Broadband, MAC will be different for each interface.
The best method for unique computer identification is by serial number of say the computer's hard drive. But each manufacturer uses their own number sequence so there can be duplicates between the manufacturers. So it is better to use an algorithm based on serial number and manufacturer's name. However one can still get duplicates as one client found where cloned iPhones were all using the same serial number.
PDF Protection Software
The best PDF security is provided by the CopySafe PDF Protection software. CopySafe PDF includes all of the above features and its innovative features have been the role model for every other PDF protection solution since 2008. Based on the CopySafe solution that ArtistScope first developed in 1999, it remains as the only PDF protection software that is effective in preventing all copy.
Website Protection Software
CopySafe PDF is not only the most effective protection of PDF for desktop reading, but it is the only copy proof PDF software that can be used on web pages. PDF can be encrypted locally using the desktop software and then uploaded to your web site for embedding on web pages. For CMS websites like WordPress, Moodle, DNN, Drupal and Joomla, ArtistScope provides plugins that enable site admins to upload and add copy protected PDF to their web pages from their CMS page editor.
DRM Server for PDF Documents
While web page display usually entails its own user management via CMS logins, authors publishing for desktop reading can employ DRM via their online DRM accounts. ArtistScope provides unlimited DRM accounts on their server for all CopySafe PDF licensees. From their account, authors can upload and manage an unlimited number of PDF documents, groups, subscribers and also sell online from the CopySafe Online Store free of commission. DRM accounts also include a free book cover design tool. For only $295 authors get all of those services and unlimited support for free for life.
Corporations wanting to keep everything in-house, especially in the case of intranets, can purchase the DRM portal software for installation on their own server. The DRM portal includes a server-side version of the CopySafe PDF Protector software to convert PDF as they are uploaded to DRM accounts.
ArtistScope provides a suite of solutions for copy protecting all types of media on both the desktop and online for web browser reading. CopySafe PDF Protection, CopySafe Video Protection and CopySafe Web Protection can be used on any web site, even on the most basic shared hosting server. However those hosting their site on their own dedicated or virtual server will have the rights to install at system level, and thus be able to use the most secure
website protection software ever imagined. The ArtistScope Site Protection System (ASPS) provides the most effective copy protection for all media and data ever imagined.
Author: William Kent
Date: 13th May 2020
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