Why Passwords Don’t Work When Creating Secure PDF Files


David Mudd

Your PDF files likely contain important information about your business, which you would
not want to fall into the wrong hands. So, you need to secure your PDF files against piracy
and theft. Passwords are commonly used as a security measure, as they are convenient and
easy to use. However, they have many drawbacks which makes them ineffective in securing
your documents.
We look at these drawbacks as well as consider the alternative to passwords.
The Problems with Password Protection
If you share a password-protected document with someone else, you will have to share the
password as well. So, you need strong passwords that are sometimes difficult to remember.

Also, once you have sent the password along with the document, nothing prevents the
recipient from sharing both with unauthorized people. In fact, passwords can be shared
easily and so anyone and everyone can get access to your PDF files. What would then have
been the point of password protecting them?
You might want to just prevent printing. In that case, you will not be concerned with who
has access to your file as long as they cannot print it. But, once the recipients can open your
PDF with the password, they can also remove the password that controls PDF use (the

restrictions password) with password recovery tools. In this way, the restrictions that you
have applied would be rendered useless.
Furthermore, programs to crack passwords have been around for some time. If you use an
easy password, such programs will be able to break into your documents quite quickly. Even
longer and stronger passwords can be broken given enough time and the determination to
do so.
Also, how do you manage the various passwords used for your different PDF files? Using the
same password in all instances is not secure; if that password is leaked, all your files will
become vulnerable. Then again, if you use a unique password for each PDF file, you will
have to store all the passwords somewhere as it is not humanly possible to remember all of
Some products claim they can securely store all your passwords. However, the possibility of
something going wrong is much higher with such password vaults. For example, if the vault
is breached by hackers, all your files will be compromised. Alternatively, you may decide to
store the passwords yourself. Yet, if there is a mismatch between the files and their
passwords, you will be locked out from accessing your own documents.
Then there is the issue when users forget their passwords or lose them and then you have
to send them again – another management overhead that you don’t need.
Ultimately, password protection may seem quick and easy, but it is not the ultimate solution
to secure your PDF files. For that you need DRM security.
What Does DRM Bring?
DRM provides all the document security features you need to protect PDF files from
unauthorized access and use. By using DRM, you will no longer need to depend on
passwords and you will be able to control access to and the use of your PDF files.
You can stop the copying, modifying, and printing of your content or limit the number of
printouts that are allowed. You can also prevent screenshots from being taken and apply a
watermark to your content.
Though you cannot stop authorized users from sharing and distributing your PDF files, you
can prevent unauthorized users from accessing them – so if a DRM protected PDF file is
given to an unauthorized user they won’t be able to open it.

You can also manually revoke access to PDFs at any time or use the PDF expiry option to
automatically revoke access once a certain time period has passed.
You can decide who is authorized to view your files as well as how many times they can do
so and when they can no longer do so. You will also be able to control whether or not users
can view and print the protected documents offline.
Finally, you can lock your PDF documents to a specific computer, mobile or tablet device
and a specific location such as the office.
With a PDF DRM security solution, you can have complete control over how your PDFs are
accessed and used. DRM secures your PDF files regardless of where they are stored or who
they are sent to. It takes care of PDF security, allowing you to concentrate on other business
So do you still try securing your PDF with passwords? Or do you use any other method?
Have you used DRM before to secure other files? Do you’ve any questions? Please feel free
to leave your comments below, we’d love to hear from you.