When protecting PDF files, the immediate method that comes to mind is the use of a password. However, PDF passwords, although the most popular safety measure, are not the most secure and reliable way to prevent documents from being accessed by third parties.
Here, we list five reasons why PDF files should not be protected through passwords. We also provide a few options that could be considered instead.
Requests of Complexity in Passwords Encourages Easy Passwords
The security effect of passwords is reduced due to the specific requirements asked for when setting one. For example, when determining a password, we are asked to include a variety of different characters from lowercase letters to uppercase ones as well as numbers and symbols.
Furthermore, after setting such a complex password, it is expected that we change the password every few months to enhance the security. This request of changing a complex password may make one feel the need to choose an easy one, with a lack in variety when it comes to different letters.
Easy passwords mean that they can be accessed without difficulty, as they are effortlessly memorable and can probably be identified through trial and error. Memorable and short passwords are also simple targets for hackers who use dictionary systems, as they may be able to access them in a matter of minutes.
Passwords Cause a Catch-22 Situation
Easy passwords also produce problems when it comes to protecting protecting encrypted PDF documents or zip files. Passwords need to be passed onto a second person when encryption is involved since the receiver of the file needs to decrypt the data to gain access to it.
So, you may feel the need to choose a simple, short, and memorable password to ensure that the second person can access the document without any problems. And, undoubtedly, complex passwords cause issues due to their difficulty of being memorized and typed correctly.
Again, as mentioned above, easy passwords suggest that third parties can easily access your documents.
Extensive Passwords Distribution Suggests a Probable Track Loss
When a second person is involved with your files, you will find that the person may make changes to your files. You may not be fond of these changes and, in at such instances, you will need to remember to whom you distributed the password so that you can track down the person who made the changes. However, if several persons are liable to have access to your files, keeping track of this may be difficult.
Misplacing, Replacing, and Wrongful Distribution of Passwords
Passing a password on to a second person without accidentally revealing it to a third party always causes concern and frustration. It is also common knowledge that passwords have a high likeliness of being misplaced, meaning that your files are at risk of being accessed by persons who may want to cause harm.
There is also the issue of replacing the password if it is forgotten. How can one replace it? This, in itself, is a hassle. Once renewed, it is then a matter of letting all the individuals, who are directly linked to the PDF file, know that the password has been changed.
And, probably, the most crucial issue is that you will never be able to prevent or even have knowledge of whether the second person has passed the password onto a third party who should have no connection with the file whatsoever.
Immediate Access to Password-Removal Programs
The internet’s ability to provide easy access to anything that comes to mind also creates an ideal platform for hackers to gain effortless admittance to your files. They just have to type some keywords into search engines and they will immediately be presented with suggestions of programs and products that are able to remove the password protection immediately.
It is accurate to say that PDF password protection is not the most secure way to enact PDF security and there are several other methods that could be used to enhance protection instead.
One effective method is to use cryptographic keys that can be shared discreetly between persons without their knowledge. Or, there are several programs that do not require passwords, while it protects your files through DRM, preventing your files from being accessed, manipulated, and edited by third parties.
Author Bio: The article was written on behalf of Locklizard, a digital rights management company. They produce high quality document encryption products. Check out their document security blog for more information on DRM.
So, what do you think is the best method for you? Will you still opt for password protection first?