PDF In-Depth

Introduction to PDF security



Permissions for the document can be set separately from access to the document. For instance, with password security, it's possible to require different passwords to open (Open Password) and modify (Permissions Password) the document, meaning that you can allow one set of users to open the document, and another, smaller set to make unrestricted changes. Users without the Permissions Password can only make the changes allowed when the document was prepared. If you elected to go with certificate security instead, permissions can be set on the certificate level (i.e. user X can print the document at high resolution, but user Y can't.)

Here's a breakdown of the permissions settings:

  1. Printing Allowed:
    • None: Prohibits all printing.
    • Low resolution (150 DPI): Allows printing, but only at a low resolution.
    • High resolution: Allows full printing privileges.
  2. Changes Allowed:
    • None: Prohibits all changes to the document.
    • Inserting, deleting and rotating pages: Allows the insertion, deletion, and rotation of pages.
    • Filling in form fields and signing existing signature fields: Prohibits changes to the document, but allows the addition to the addition of form data, and digital signatures.
    • Commenting, filling in form fields and signing existing signature fields: Allows for the addition of comments, form data, and digital signatures.
    • Any except extracting pages: Allows all changes except for the extraction of pages.
  3. Enable copying of text, images, and other content
    • Off: Prohibits readers selecting text or graphical objects, which would allow copying and pasting of content.
    • On: Enables text and graphics selection, allowing for the extraction of this content.
  4. Enable text access for screen readers for the visually impaired
    • Off: Allows text to be accessed by screen-reading software for the visually impaired.
    • On: Allows text to be accessed by screen-reading software for the visually impaired.

OK, so that's the basics. In future articles, I'll address 3rd party tools, eEnvelopes, security policies, Policy Server and digital signatures. If you're not familiar with any of those terms, you may just want to read those columns to find out more!

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