How to improve the security of your PDF documents?

security of your PDF documents

The year 2020 will be recognized for several things in the IT industry, one of which should be the emergence of PDFs. Of course, PDFs are nothing new to most professionals, but the rise of remote working (which has left people far from their office printers) has necessitated an unprecedented reliance on this area of digitization.

On the one hand, PDFs provide a scalable, ready-to-use option for remote communication. Plus, PDF is one of the handful formats that can be converted readily to other formats such as PDF to Word and other document formats can also be converted into PDF like Excel to PDF or Word to PDF in no time. On the other hand, they create a vulnerability since more sensitive digital data is available for cybercriminals to attack.

Every PDF document that a business creates, distributes, updates, and stores must be carefully protected. Some PDF tools, fortunately, include built-in security safeguards. This is a solid start, but with PDFs being accessed from a variety of devices, systems, and stages of the workflow, the company must do more to assure security. So, with that being said, let’s have a look at a few ways by which you can improve the security of your PDF documents:


Encryption is a simple approach to prevent unwanted users from accessing documents by making them unavailable (encrypted) unless the intended receivers have the key/password to decrypt the data. This may be done in a variety of methods, including using a password or a certificate.

Encryption is simple to apply to any PDF and is especially handy when sharing with a small group of people and allowing multiple levels of access to the document. The disadvantages are that you must supply the password and that you have no control over who receives the password outside of your preferred group.

Confidential information removal

In many cases, personal data should be erased before a document is shared to safeguard it, a procedure known as redacting. It is not sufficient to merely draw a black line across the information that should be hidden, since an expert PDF user may easily erase the line. Instead, the information must be permanently deleted.

The act of redacting the appropriate portion simply indicates that sensitive material has been deleted, which is especially important for authorities and other public entities that are required by law to disclose where information has been removed.

Digital Signatures

When using digital documents, digital signatures can be used to substitute wet ink signatures. This idea has gained a lot of momentum and is well-integrated into the PDF standard. It’s similar to putting a public notary stamp on a document to confirm that the signatures are genuine and that the document hasn’t been interfered with.

The digital signature effectively records the individual’s desire to enter into the contract, and it’s used to encrypt the information and verify the authenticity of the signed document. Digital signatures provide several advantages, including automating and safeguarding your digital document process, as well as saving you time, money, and headaches.

Individuals and organizations typically use digital signatures in PDF documents to demonstrate who examined the document on a given date/time and that it has not been modified after it was signed.


The watermarking of papers is one of the earliest document security procedures. Watermarking has long been used to assert ownership of papers or to operate as a trademarking device, but it has new uses in the digital world.

A second, more fundamental application is to convey document categorization to receivers so that they are aware of how to handle the document. Someone might handle a document marked “confidential” with a lot more care than they would if it didn’t have a watermark on it.

For example, you could wish to discourage the leaking of private papers and add a way to track them if they go farther than you anticipated. One technique is to use the recipient’s own email address as a watermark on digital documents, revealing the source of the leak.

Keeping your PDF documents safe is an important part of keeping your data secure. In conclusion, depending on your requirements, you have a variety of security options. To encrypt a document, you can use a password or a key/certificate.

You may redact sensitive data and then save or share the document widely, or you can use digital signatures to certify that a document and its content have not been changed.

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