FAQ: Does Safeguard PDF Security stop copying, sharing, forwarding, emailing, saving, downloading, and printing?

Yes it does.

Stop copying, forwarding, emailing, sharing

When we say ‘stop copying’, ‘stop saving’, ‘stop forwarding/emailing’ we mean of unprotected documents.  And that is exactly what Safeguard PDF security does.

Safeguard PDF Security stops unauthorized users using protected PDF documents.  If an authorized user sends a protected PDF file to someone else then the recipient must be authorized by you to view it, otherwise it will be useless to them because they don’t have the key to open it.  Decryption keys are secretly relayed to authorized user’s devices (users never see them) and stored in a secure keystore that is locked to the device (i.e. it will not work if copied to another device).

To have effective copy protection security, a PDF security system must use licensing (to authorize users) and keys (to encrypt/decrypt documents).  The reason why Adobe Acrobat copy and print restrictions can be easily removed is because there is no security actually there – Adobe tells its own viewer to honour the settings it has applied.  And PDF password protection is not effective for stopping sharing, as users can share document passwords with others.

Stop saving

Safeguard PDF Security prevents users saving protected PDF files to unprotected formats.

There is no ‘Save’ or ‘Save As’ option in our Viewers.

Stop Printing

When you protect a PDF with Safeguard PDF Security you can either allow or stop printing.

If you allow printing you can also limit the number of prints and deny access once a print limit is reached.

Stop Downloading

If you want to prevent downloading of PDF files then our secure PDF Web Viewer will achieve this.

Users cannot download, copy, forward, email, save or print PDFs (you can allow printing if you want to).  However users must always be online to view protected PDF files.

This does not provide any additional security over offline systems (i.e. Viewers installed on a device) where protected PDFs can be copied, emailed, forwarded, etc. to other users because recipients won’t be able to view them unless they have been authorized.

In fact, Web Viewers are not as flexible or secure as installable (offline) Viewers:

  • you have no control over the Operating system environment to enforce additional security measures – i.e. if printing is allowed, preventing printing to file drivers
  • users can share login details – you can however lock users to IP addresses and countries with Safeguard Enterprise PDF DRM
  • users must always be connected to the Internet to view protected PDF files

So in summary, it does not matter if a user can download, copy, forward, etc. a protected PDF file to others or not.  What really matters is whether the recipient can use it.