Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Why You Need More Than PDF Password Protection To Protect PDF Files

Protect PDF Files

There are billions and billions of passwords used by people worldwide, and more and more are created every time files need to be sent. According to a report from LastPass, an average business employee keeps track of 191 passwords. The same report reveals that over 81% of confirmed data breaches were due to weak passwords. 

Despite this frightening cycle, many organizations and businesses continue to use passwords. Unfortunately, passwords that are intrinsically linked in most companies will always be a poor level of security given its insecurity and weak nature of protection. Let's look at why passwords are an inadequate and insufficient choice for securing your data.

The Problem with Passwords 

Almost every employee and individual has experienced conflict and frustration when logging into their accounts. For one, constantly remembering a combination of letters, symbols, special characters, and digits can be a huge hassle. It is even more problematic when passwords get stolen or lost, which they consistently do. 

This can place a tremendous burden on the IT department or helpdesks. A recent report from Search Enterprise revealed how at least 20 to 50% of help desk calls are to reset passwords, with an average call costing an organization $70. In addition, for any organization, especially the IT department, passwords become corporate assets that miscreants and cybercriminals looking to target. 

And that can be an issue because passwords often move in the clear and are stored in databases that become the primary targets of hacking attempts. Besides, passwords are also shared among people and often reused across multiple applications and services. 

These factors make passwords an easy target for phishing attempts, credential-stealing plans, and malware. Despite being widely used, passwords are fundamentally defective. Hence, they can no longer be used as an appropriate authentication method for any use case except those with negligible risk. 

When passwords are robbed or stolen, they are typically shared in public and put up for sale on the dark web. Threat agents purchase these lists and use automated credential stuffing attempts that pass through logging combinations until a match is found for a specific account. Besides, passwords can be cracked through:

Dictionary attacks. Hackers systematically execute combinations of well-known words and other likely passwords. 

Brute force attempts. Hackers systematically test every mix of potential characters up to a specific length.

Lookup tables. Hackers create a table of precomputed hashes from the passwords dictionary and test hundreds of hashes per second.

Reverse lookup tables. Hackers create a table that compares the table of password hashes. These are picked up from user accounts with the table of hashes of guest passwords to look for the right match.

Rainbow tables. Hackers develop a similar kind of table akin to a reverse lookup table. But in this case, they employ a reduction function to cut down the amount of storage space required.

Passwords: Fundamentally Insecure and Faulty 

Password insecurity has led to massive data breaches, account takeovers, bankruptcy, and worse. According to a 2019 report from Verizon Data Breach Investigations, stolen credentials were the second largest cause of data breaches, with billions of compromised passwords. 

Several other studies, reports, and surveys reveal how it is becoming challenging for IT departments and organizations to provide adequate security and protection for PDF files, classified data, and confidential information, etc., and the like for their organization. 

For instance, CISOs protect financial data, customer information, IPR, employees' personally identifiable information [PII], and copyrights, among other factors. In addition, organizations must indicate that they comply with regulations and other document security requirements. 

In this regard, organizations are looking at preventing a data breach and not wanting to see themselves in the headlines or explaining to their clients and customers why their accounts were breached. In addition, other headaches such as notifying the board of the consequence of the data breach and what it could cost the organization in terms of lost revenues, damaged brand, and reputation management can be a nightmarish time for all stakeholders involved. 

At the end of the day, every business is looking to maintain goodwill, rising stock prices, and a sparkling brand reputation. All this boils down to establishing good security practices, which means safeguarding the data and assets in the company. For example, suppose threat agents penetrate classified information through stolen passwords. 

In that case, they have the freedom of moving laterally within the organization, and network and causing havoc by putting not just data but also the physical organization in danger.

PDF DRM: The Only Alternative To Data Security

There is a need to find the correct alternative and an accurate authentication method to secure company information. One solution, rather, the only solution to the password issue and other current options to document security, is licensing control and transparent key management as used by some digital rights management [DRM] solutions. 

Licensing and transparent key management eliminate the need for passwords and the discord and risks that arise. It uses a simple yet unbreakable concept to leverage US government strength 256-bit encryption for document protection, giving you complete control over how and who should view your protected data. 

With PDF DRM, you can lock your PDF files to authorized devices, specific IP addresses, and locations and prevent them from being shared, printed, screen grabbed, copied, pasted, modified or altered, and more. In addition, through the use of dynamic watermarks, you can identify users if screenshots are made and shared.  You can also enable the expiry and revocation of the PDF document content at any time.


Passwords, while ubiquitous, are also fundamentally insecure. Your only alternative solution to safeguarding classified and sensitive information is through PDF DRM which uses licensing and transparent key management. 

Regardless of where your information lies, PDF DRM protects PDF documents without passwords through transparent public-key technology and without exposing those keys to users—at the same time enforcing their use wherever the documents reside.