Information Technology

We Found This When We Searched For “I Want To Copy Protect My PDF File”

copy protect PDF file

This article will provide an overview of PDF copy protection options. There are some important points to make before we discuss the various options that can be used to copy protect a PDF file.

  • For a file to be copy-protected, it must have something done to it to maintain control. The file must be changed in some way for it to become secure. This is an example of a similarity: anyone can drive, but you’ll need a “key” to start it. The “key” secures your vehicle.
  • You have several transportation options. You can choose to own a car, and then give the key to whoever you wish to drive it. Or you can use Uber to get a driver to take you around. Copy protection works more like Uber than your car.
  • Copy protection is a way to prevent anyone from saving, printing, sharing, streaming, or capturing pages of a file. Uber, like ride-sharing, wants everyone to be able to access the cars. However, they don’t want everyone to drive them.

To better understand the difference between encryption and copy protection, let’s return to our previous comment that something had to change in the file. Encryption uses a technique whereby the owner can assign a password for each piece of the file. Once the correct password is entered, the PDF file will be readable.

Encryption is a problem because once the password is entered correctly, anyone could do anything they wish with the document. The same as keeping honest people honest. The file can be used in any way the user wants; printing, sharing, saving, screen capture, etc. The key is the equivalent of owning a car. You’ll only lend your car to people that you trust. See the problem now?

A password is not used for copy protection, but anyone can view the file. Encryption does exist, but how it’s applied and used differs. As with Uber cars, the driver will be the one to drive you wherever you want.

The PDF can be viewed by anyone but it cannot be edited. Most people will look for this solution when they are looking for PDF protection.

The Portable Document format is a standard. The document format is designed to be compatible with almost any document reader. The goal of the PDF specification was for the format to be as universal as it could be. Copy-protecting a pdf file is more complicated than it seems.

Adobe Reader comes preinstalled in Windows. Windows includes embedded Adobe API codes to read PDFs. Even if Adobe

If Reader has been uninstalled or not installed, you can still open a PDF file. Adobe Reader, the number one PDF reader available on the market, is just one of dozens of PDF readers. The goal of all these PDF readers is the same: open and read portable document files.

Adobe copy protection is well-known for being cracked. Google “Adobe security crack” to find out how Adobe’s security features have been compromised. Google search results dedicated to hacking can be found on these two pages.

The main problem with copy protection is that there are no controls available when viewing a pdf. Meaning a PDF content owner (you) does not have the control over Adobe Reader, or other programs, to stop the user (your client/customer/student) from printing, screen grabbing, sharing, and saving.

The PDF copy-protection solution works by providing a framework in which the document can be opened, viewed, and edited while you (the owner of the content) remain in control.

Adobe Reader, FoxIt Reader or any other program will not offer the tools needed to stop a user from printing and saving documents from within its software. Instead, we’ll need a “reader”, or “viewer”, with controls for blocking these functions.

In this context, it’s difficult to give a reader these security features. Users who receive PDF files do not want another program installed just to open a file. This process can make a PDF look clunky and unattractive. The PDF format is no longer portable. A hacker can also download a program to reverse engineer a PDF. To control PDF, there needs to be more than a secure viewer/reader.

Associating a copy-protected PDF file with something physical is the most secure method. Software-only solutions can be used, but are less secure than a solution that involves something physical.

In our research into this problem, we came across a product by Nexcopy called the Copy Secure Flash Drive. Copy Secure is a USB flash drive, a physical device that provides copy protection for PDF files. This is done without installing any software to view the file. In actuality, the solution is not a protected file but a protected copy device. The physical device is what controls viewing the document.

The Copy Secure drive has a secure PDF viewer that is locked to it. The hacker will not be able to open the PDF file if they download the viewer program that runs straight from the flash drive (no need for installation).

Copy Secure drives work on Mac and Windows computers. It is easy to view PDF files with the viewer software that automatically launches when the USB is inserted. The PDF is a portable format.

According to our testing, this viewer does not permit printing. It does not allow saving, screen capturing, or any other sharing. The PDF is accessible from any computer with this solution. There is no need to download secure viewers to every computer where the PDF will eventually be used. Simply insert the Copy Secure USB Drive and access the document. All functions are run directly from the USB drive.

There are features to control PDFs if you need more digital rights management. Copy Secure’s solution includes a PDF time-expiration feature. This restricts the client/customer/student from accessing the PDF after a specific date.

Copy Secure gives you the option of assigning a security level to the PDF if it contains sensitive data that the PDF doesn’t want anyone else to see.

The password must be entered before a PDF can be viewed. In other words, the content owner now has two types of protection: Before the PDF is shown, the user/student must first enter the right password. Once the PDF has been displayed, it remains copy-protected, so that even the most trusted users cannot print or download the PDF.

When we were researching the best way to copy protect a PDF file, we found several other useful products.

Adobe – They have a solution. However, after doing a quick Google search we discovered that there are far too many hacks and workarounds for us to consider it a viable one.

PDF2GO-This is a fantastic online solution. However, we found that the price was very high for medium- and large-volume applications. This solution may be the best choice for a single-time need.

LockLizard is a solution that falls in the category of expensive solutions for medium to large business models.

In conclusion, the idea of a device that is physically connected to PDF security is very appealing. Nexcopy’s solution is ideal if the PDF content owner is using a business model that directly ties the intellectual properties of PDF content to revenue. Adobe is a very large company that has been a target for hackers over the years. These two “software-only solutions” are great for one-off needs or small businesses, but they are also a bit expensive.

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