Simple Steps To Protect Precious PDF Documents

There are very few things in business, education, or personal matters that are as important as protecting intellectual property. Securing intellectual property comes in many forms. When we are dealing with material in the digital age this means we must secure the electronic documents we create and distribute.

The gold standard for electronic documents is the PDF. These documents are the gold standard because they're easy to create, manipulate, and share. One of the most interesting features is that they appear identical on any device which makes them very useful for personal and business purposes. It doesn't matter what device is used to look at a PDF document, it could be a smart phone or a 10-year-old computer, everyone sees the same thing.

Creating PDF documents is easy, but it's even easier to leak sensitive information to the world through carelessness. Never forget to secure your documents! There's really no excuse in leaving PDF documents unsecured because there are so many built-in tools to lock them down that anyone should be able to do it successfully. Here's a short list on how to go about securing PDF documents.

Remove and redact

Who wants to share sensitive information? Not me! It could be information as simple as an email address, dates, or something more sinister like a credit card number, but no matter what the situation sometimes you have to share a document that contains sensitive information. You don't just want to distribute your social security number for the whole world to see. That's why you can redact all the information which might be sensitive. It essentially blacks everything sensitive out making it unreadable for any recipient of the document. You almost feel like you are playing Army security specialist blacking out sensitive parts of soldiers letters with the redact tool.

Applying passwords and permissions

There are a few ways to set passwords on PDF documents. The important take away message here is that you should never send out a PDF document which does not have password protection set. This simply means that it's locked down and no one can make changes to it unless they have the password. You alone, the PDF document creator, set the permissions you want a reader to have. For example, you may want them to be able to print and that's it, so you can set that permission as part of the document. Password secured PDF documents are easily known with the little padlock icon for everyone to see that it is secured.

Signatures and certificates

Many important documents require signatures. These might range from financial to legal documents. The sender and recipient mst understand that the document is authentic and unaltered from its origin to be able to trust in the document. Who knows what might happen in transit. In order to ensure that the authenticity of the PDF document is secure, make sure you sign your PDF documents with a certificate ID. There are a few ways to do this, you can put a signature box on the page and stamp it with your signature. The electronic signature can also be embedded in the document and verified upon delivery.

The author of this article is Jared Jaureguy. Follow him on Twitter @JaredJaureguy.

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