PDF is widely accepted as the go-to-format for sharing documents due to the fact that the documents will appear the same on all devices, but many have started to question the security of this file format.

With data breaches and information leaks becoming more and more common, many business owners are beginning to wonder if they can better protect their documents. Here’s everything you need to know about PDF security:


A brief history of PDF security

The first security controls for PDF documents were created by Adobe, who hadn’t included security in earlier versions of PDF documents.

Adobe’s first security measures were simple password access controls. The file creator could create two passwords for the document, one which controlled permissions and the other which allowed access. The trouble, was that these passwords were created by the document creators and were often short and easy to crack.

With a simple brute force attack, hackers could easily access most password protected PDF documents. The other major issue with password based security was that someone with the password could freely distribute the PDF to whomever they’d like providing them with the password to access it.

This meant that document owners not only suffered from a lack of security, but a lack of control over their documents as well. The majority of owners simply relied on an honor system, hoping those whom it was shared with wouldn’t distribute it without permission.

Eventually, third parties and competitors stepped in to fill the void and provide the necessary security features which Adobe was lacking.


A list of current PDF security measures

Now, we have plenty more options for keeping PDFs secure. By using non Adobe PDF technology (like Foxit and Debenu) or third party apps, you can utilize the following security measures:

  • Rights management services including IP whitelisting, user access, printing, and more
  • Audit logs (who accessed documents, which documents were accessed and when, how many copies were printed, and more)
  • Printer restrictions
  • Screenshot prevention
  • Security watermarks
  • Dynamic revocation (the ability to remove access to documents which have already been issued)
  • Encrypted PDF files
  • Dynamic Redaction (redacts certain contents based on permissions)
  • The ability to display viewer identity information on protected PDF files. (This provides additional security to protected files from being compromised by users cameras/smartphones and video capture.)



ConnectedPDF allows you to gain control over your PDF documents like never before.

You control who can do what with your documents by protecting files with encryption and enabling activities such as viewing the file. Only users of a cPDF application (such as Foxit Reader, or Foxit PhantomPDF) are able to view the file, preventing unwanted access to your files.



By using a combination of the above security measures, document owners can ensure the information contained within their PDF documents is secure. To learn more about today’s PDF security features and technologies, click here.