How to protect a PDF ?
The PDF format was created to facilitate document sharing. It allows to keep the visual characteristics of the content and to ensure its readability on any support. However, this feature can become problematic if the file needs to be protected against indiscretions. Nevertheless, it is possible to limit the access to a PDF.
In particular, you can restrict the reading, copying and printing of the document.
Why protect a PDF ?
Many situations can encourage to protect a PDF. A company sometimes needs to limit the access of certain users to sensitive data. You may also need to prevent the opening of confidential or personal documents. This solution also helps to encrypt and better secure attachments.
In any case, you can use a software to protect and encrypt your PDF.
For a content creator, it may also be necessary to prohibit the copying and printing of a document. The recipient will then be able to open the file and read the shared information. On the other hand, it will not be able to copy or print the content in question.
This feature is often useful to protect copyrights or control the distribution of a particular text.
Finally, some documents are supposed to circulate within a user group in its initial version. They may be draft projects, agendas or other circulars. In this case, you need to prevent adding or deleting text, embedding objects, comments, altering the layout..
How to do it ?
In order to protect a PDF, you need an application that supports this format and integrates this functionality. The service can be free or paid depending on the provider. That said, you usually get a free trial on paid solutions.
The PDFSmart platform.com allows, for example, to test its tools for free and unlimited during 7 days.
The site is distinguished by its double protection. On the one hand, you can set a password to restrict access to your file. You just need to import the document and fill in the code in the dedicated module.
To reduce the risk of hacking, you should choose a strong password (at least 8 characters, random structure, mixing numbers, lower case, upper case and special characters).
On the other hand, the file is encrypted using ARC4 128-bit and AES 256-bit encryption protocols. These are military-grade encryption systems. It is therefore very difficult for malicious persons to bypass the protection of the document.
Finally, you can also protect a PDF file by using the proprietary Acrobat software from Adobe, the creator of the format.
Can I modify my PDF after that ?
The tools designed to protect a PDF also allow you to lift the lock and to modify the content (text, images, macros…). You only need the password defined by the creator of the file. You will then have to open the PDF in a dedicated software or import the document on a specialized platform.
When opening the file, you will be prompted to enter the password. Fill in the code in your possession to be able to make changes. Depending on the solution used, you may need to open the Tools, Protection, Encryption and Password sections to remove the protection.
You will then be able to modify the document.
If you have forgotten the password, it is still possible to unlock the file with a program designed for this purpose. However, this type of service is only offered by operators who have your registration information. You will then be held responsible for this action in the event of litigation. The operation is nevertheless easy.
You just need to follow the instructions of the PC, mobile or web application.
How to remove the protection ?
For remove the lock, you need to use a program that manages the blocking and encryption of PDF. The procedure is very simple, if you are the author of the document in question. Simply reopen the application and the options that encrypted the file, then select Remove Protection.
You usually have to enter a password during this operation. If you don’t have the access code, you can always remove the block with a service subscribed with your personal information. This precaution is quite common in the industry.
Thus, you bypass the protection of the file by engaging your legal responsibility.
In any case, Adobe Acrobat allows for example to remove the lock by recreating the document. You can also use the printer function to create a copy without protection. With this second option, however, you will lose interactive elements such as buttons, bookmarks and hyperlinks.
However, specialized sites allow you to keep these features.