Sanford Bingham, President & CEO of FileOpen Systems, provided Planet
PDF with the following comment on ElcomSoft and its software products
that allegedly crack a variety of PDF encryption solutions, including
those from FileOpen and Adobe Systems.
"FileOpen Systems condemns the actions of ElcomSoft in releasing software to
remove encryption from PDF files. The release of this software violates the
privacy of individuals who have placed password protection onto their own
documents and infringes the copyright of publishers who have distributed
works protected by rights management systems such as our own.
We believe that individuals have a right to restrict access to their
documents and that publishers have a right to control the distribution of
their works. We therefore oppose the use of tools that undermine the
exercise of those rights, just as we would oppose the illegal use of tools
for picking locks or breaking into cars.
The mere fact that such software can be created is no justification for
doing so, still less for releasing the cracking tools as a commercial
product. We have directly questioned ElcomSoft representatives on their
motivations for releasing these tools, and challenged their public claims to
be providing a service to consumers. We have also warned ElcomSoft
repeatedly that they are not above the laws of the United States in cases
where they are distributing the software through U.S.-based servers and
distributors. So we welcome and applaud Adobe's legal efforts to remove this
product from the marketplace.
We further dispute ElcomSoft's argument that the PDF format and the Acrobat
viewer are inherently insecure. Acrobat must decrypt PDF files in order to
display them. Once the document has been decrypted, ElcomSoft's software
steals the key. This is the equivalent of a burglar waiting for the owner to
unlock the front door to his house and then sneaking in behind: it does not
follow from such an action that the lock on the front door is inadequate.
This attack relies, moreover, on the document being opened in the
presence of the ElcomSoft software. FileOpen Systems can and will prevent
from happening. The current versions of FileOpen's products contain
countermeasures which prevent the ElcomSoft tools from removing protection
PDF files protected with our software.
FileOpen Systems' mission is to provide our customers with working solutions
that strike a balance between the dual goals of security and usability. We
consider it our job to negotiate constant changes to the electronic
publishing landscape on behalf our customers, whether it be security
challenges from determined hackers or benign changes to the Acrobat viewer.
We appreciate our current and future customers' understanding of the need to
constantly adapt to these changes, and are honored that so many publishers
worldwide have chosen FileOpen to act on their behalf.
Despite the discouraging statements made by ElcomSoft and the security
"experts" they have recruited to rationalize their case, FileOpen Systems
maintains that electronic document protection is still a worthy and
achievable goal. It has made it possible for millions of publishers and
end-users to radically change their methods of information distribution and
consumption in ways that are less expensive, more convenient, and yes, more
secure than old-fashioned paper and ink. FileOpen Systems will continue to
do whatever it takes to make secure electronic publishing a reality for our
Planet eBook & Planet PDF has a regularly updated index of all articles related to this issue, as well as links to the coverage by other news outlets.