DRM systems have been around for a while now and using a PDF DRM system is one of many options for securing PDF documents. People are gravitating towards this security measure as it solves most of the problems associated with password protection, cloud protection, and other PDF security systems. It also gives document publishers control over their documents, even after they have been shared with other relevant parties, including employees, company executives, lawyers, students and others who may need access to your documents.
Using a PDF DRM system you can control not only who has access to your documents but what they can do with them. The restrictions you can impose on document users include the following:
- For how long a user has access to a document – You can set up an expiry date; when the date is reached the user’s access will be revoked automatically. This might be useful for students, for example, as you can restrict access to study content only for the semester for which they paid. It could also be useful when you need to provide lawyers access to your documents for a certain case, but only for the duration of the case.
- From where a user can use the document – You can choose to lock your document to a particular location. This could be as broad as a country or as narrow as a specific office. When location locking is used, users will be denied access to protected documents if they try to open them outside the permitted zones.
- Whether the user can access the document offline – If you are confident that the specific user will always have an internet connection, you can restrict offline access. By forcing users to always be online ensures you can instantly revoke document use. However, for others who do not always have coverage, it would be best to allow offline use. Document controls are always enforced regardless of the type of access.
- Whether or not a user may print the document – A user may sometimes need permission to print your document, but you can then still restrict how many copies they are permitted to print. You can also turn off the ability to print altogether, depending on the scenario. A bonus is that DRM systems prevent printing to other file formats by default. As such, users cannot create unprotected copies of your PDF documents by printing to a PDF file. Also, the document only has to be protected once and you can give users different printing rights on the fly.
- If you do allow printing then using dynamic watermarks is advised so you can identify users by displaying their credentials on a document to discourage photocopying and subsequent distribution.
- Whether the user can copy the content – Restricting copying of the content is a multi-leveled approach. A DRM system will prevent the use of shortcuts, such as the copy and paste shortcut keys as well as other keys that will result in the user making a copy of your document. Also, DRM systems prevent users from taking screenshots by using third-party apps.
- Whether you want to block editing, reviews, and comments – Sometimes, altering the information on a document could mean the loss of crucial information. If every person who comes into contact with a particular document can change something or leave a comment, the last recipients may be confused by the information remaining. So, you can block users from being able to change your document.
- Whether viewing specific pages or content is restricted – You can select how much each person is allowed to view in a document. It is also possible to redact the material on a particular page of a shared document.
- Whether rich document capability is allowed – You can allow a person to see the written content without being able to view the video content or other file formats embedded within.
- The logging of document use – you can see who viewed and printed documents, when, and where this occurred. This is useful for compliance purposes and to identify any leaks.
The restrictions available in a document DRM system will allow you to keep your original content and information safe regardless of where it is stored or located. Documents are always encrypted at rest and in transit and only ever decrypted (in memory) on authorized users devices. Licensing controls manage use of users and their devices and DRM controls ensure documents can only be used in a restricted manner.
Once you have such control over your documents, security worries will be a thing of the past.