Using PDF DRM protection to get to your markets faster

Most people seem to view any form of Digital Rights Management (DRM) based PDF protection as being difficult to implement and impossible for users to work with.

The PDF format itself was developed to facilitate the ability to transfer a document, and have it reproduced (copied?) accurately both on-screen and when printed. That is why it has been so widely and enthusiastically adopted by enterprises, whether publishing internally or externally.  And that is why it continues to be the format of choice instead of html, xml, shockwave flash and so on.

But in today’s economy, the pressures are on.  Enterprises have to juggle a wild cocktail of requirements, getting faster to market, converting from paper to digital, reducing reproduction costs, improving access to larger markets, protecting their IPR, protecting brand image, maintaining control and ownership of content.  Further, the appalling and continuing lapses by governments and industry to protect private information they have been entrusted with have underwritten the need to protect content.  For PDF creators this means ensuring that suitable PDF protection mechanisms must be utilized for controlling the access to and use of information being published.  Without PDF protection mechanisms, proprietary IPR (including copyright information) and personal or private data may be exposed and available for hackers to steal and then misuse.

LockLizard is an acknowledged leader in providing state of the art PDF protection services, employing both granular and scalable overarching controls that allow publishers of all types to ensure the relevant level of control over the information that they must publish electronically. Apart from the typical access controls to information by start and stop date, and license verification requirements, LockLizard have extended the typical controls provided by competitors in a number of novel directions.

One of the critical features of protecting IPR is the ability to resist the use of Print Screen type screen capture, as well as detecting and marginalizing screen grabber programs operating.  (Typically screen capture is used in a manual or automated way to copy screen content that is then either held as a graphic image, or run through an OCR process in order to convert it back into a PDF format for uncontrolled and potentially unlawful reproduction.)  LockLizard address these issues with techniques for disabling key use, detecting grabbers, and resisting some methods of screen identification.

Another critical point is providing granular and extensible controls over the printing process.  Allowing printing content also risks allowing the content to be printed multiple times, and perhaps scanned and converted back into PDF format, but without any content controls.

LockLizard utilize a wide range of overarching and overlapping methods and techniques for making it unattractive to the person granted printing rights to pass on copies or attempt to scan the printed document.

At the simplest level, static watermarks may be added that identify the owner of the document, such as Copyright marks and the original publisher’s branding, logotypes and so on.  To these may be added dynamic watermarks such as the name and email address of the user printing the document.  And with LockLizard software you only have to protect your PDF document once since the watermarks are applied dynamically, unlike other watermarking and PDF protection systems.

At a more sophisticated level it is possible to add copy preventing watermarks that act to resist the ability of photocopiers to produce copies of good quality, and to make OCR converters mis-convert the graphic image when trying to convert it back to text.  It is also possible to include watermarks that only become active when attempts are made to photocopy or scan them, and reveal that the copy is not authentic, or is a pirate copy.

LockLizard employ other techniques in order to resist attempts to print to files instead of to actual printers.

The provision of these measures by LockLizard allows content providers to choose a content protection stance that is relevant to their requirements on a document by document basis.  There is no ‘one size fits all’ arrangement.  It’s a matter of Risk Management.  For instance, it is not generally economical for someone to obtain a print-out of a 1000 page document and then have it copied by Kinko’s and distributed to their friends.  And if every electronic copy is of poor quality and clearly identifies them as the source, then they may prefer not to go that route.

But the key point is that LockLizard provide their publishers with the ability to choose a Risk Management stance when selecting pdf document controls, something not addressed by other content management providers.

Balancing security against usability

It’s a commonly held view that security systems are difficult to set up, and the more secure you want them to be the harder they are to use.  It’s also wrong.

LockLizard have made full use of their significant background in the design of easy-to-use systems, and in the implementation of encryption and security technologies (45 years experience), to provide realistic, granular and effective PDF document protection and document management controls.

LockLizard have avoided the use of passwords and password management systems, in order to provide a higher level of security control.  And at the same time LockLizard have made life simpler and easier for both publisher and customer.  The LockLizard approach to licensing is to create ‘generic’ relationships between publishers and customers.  So licenses are used to establish the presence of a business relationship, but they do not, of themselves, confer rights to documents.  This is a very different approach from competitor products that derive relationships through documents.  LockLizard have simplified the entire business process for all parties by dynamically resolving whatever rights the publisher has granted for the user without the user having to do anything at all.

So who says that you can only have high security systems if they are not usable?  It’s simply a fiction invented by people who think they have a divine right to get any content they feel like without having to pay for it.  LockLizard have delivered a PKI class security service without any of the pain, and all of the gain.  The LockLizard infrastructure sorts out all the security issues, transfers keys and so on without anyone having to do anything at all.

Ease of use

LockLizard have used their significant experience in simplifying the Human Computer Interface (HCI) for pdf management and control systems to create what is acknowledged as the simplest (and most thorough) interface to work with by content publishers around the world.

For the content publisher, LockLizard have condensed the complexity of protection classes and requirements into just a few tabbed dialogs.  There are no complex code schemes to input.  The dialogs follow the language of the business user rather than the IT guru, making it far easier for the business administrator to decide what they want to achieve, and having it happen, rather than waiting on the IT department to fail to understand the business requirement.

For the ultimate user, LockLizard have made the entire control process seamless.  The user does nothing, and the LockLizard infrastructure implements the agreement made between the user and their publisher.  It could not be simpler.

But please do not tell the IT security acolytes, because it would upset them to see a solution that is actually easy to use as well as being very secure.

About Lizard Safeguard PDF Security

Lizard Safeguard PDF Security is for publishers of high value or confidential information published in PDF format, whether for sale to the public or internal control and protection, where a higher degree of security and control is required – beyond simple pdf password protection. There are no passwords for you to send, or for users to enter, manage, forget, or pass onto others.

Control who views and prints your secure PDF documents – where, when, how many times, and for how long (days, months, years or forever).

Lizard Safeguard PDF Security protects your PDF documents from unauthorized:

  • viewing (including how many times)
  • copying
  • sharing
  • modifying
  • saving
  • printing (including how many times)
  • printing to file, PDF, or image printers
  • screen grabbing (print screen and third party screen grabbers)

You decide:

  • when documents expire (if at all)
  • if documents should be revoked
  • if user accounts expire
  • whether watermarks should be applied to viewed and/or printed documents

For more information visit http://www.locklizard.com/pdf_security.htm to see how you can use PDF DRM protection to get to your markets faster.