Mitigate the 5 risks when using PDF for business documents
Updated: Jul 11
Since its introduction in 1993, PDF has become the primary means for sharing business documents. According to a survey conducted by the PDF Association in 2019, 91% of respondents indicated that they use PDF documents in their work, and 89% reported that PDF is important to their organization's document management strategy. Furthermore, a 2020 study by Adobe found that the average organization has 22 different document types, with PDF being the most common format.
PDF is widely used by businesses of all sizes to share a variety of documents, including proposals, reports, contracts, statements, and invoices, as well as intellectual property. While PDF is not inherently bad for sharing business documents, there are certain risks associated with sharing PDF documents that contain sensitive information.
Here are five risks organizations should consider when using PDF to share sensitive business information (regardless if the sharing occurs within the organization or with external parties):
Reason #1 – Unauthorized Copying
One of the main risks is that PDF documents can be easily copied without your knowledge or consent. Once your document has been distributed, there is little that can be done to prevent its unauthorized reproduction.
Reason #2 – Improper Distribution
This happens when someone gains access to the document and shares it with others without authorization, or if the document is accidentally shared with the wrong person.
Reason #3 – Document Modifications
PDF documents can be easily modified, either intentionally or accidentally. This can lead to the unintentional disclosure of sensitive information, or the intentional manipulation of the document to misrepresent information or hide relevant details.
Reason #4 – Outdated Information
Business documents are often works in progress, and subject to constant modification. The unfettered copying and distribution of business-related PDF documents can lead to confusion as multiple versions containing conflicting information become widely distributed.
Reason #3 – Lack of Tracking
You cannot track access to PDFs. You may be able to track downloads, but there is no information that tells you who has attempted to access your documents or what they did with them afterward.
With PDF, once a document is downloaded or shared you lose control over it. To mitigate these risks, it is important to take precautions when sharing sensitive business documents in a PDF format which include using encryption, limiting access to the document to only those who need it, and monitoring the document to ensure it is not being distributed or modified without your knowledge or consent.
At Confidencial Inc, our foundation is a strategy for Secure Document Sharing(SDS). One component of that strategy is our new ‘PDF Protector’. With PDF Protector, organizations now have greater control over their PDF content.
PDF Protector delivers a number of features to secure sensitive business information including:
Encrypt PDF – With a simple click, an entire PDF document can be encrypted and only viewable by those individuals you authorize.
Encrypt Selection – Highlight and encrypt any portion of the PDF document viewable only to those individuals you authorize. Each encryption can be made viewable to one or many unique individuals.
Encrypt Page Range – Indicate a range of pages within a PDF document for encryption, leaving the remaining pages viewable.
Find and Encrypt – Search for all occurrences of a word or phrase within a document and automatically encrypt them.
Confidencial also provides detailed ‘Document Tracing’ that provides an audit trail of all access and activity associated with your encrypted documents inside and outside the organization. Confidencial's PDF Protector addresses the need for businesses to secure sensitive information on a need-to-know business with a range of capabilities designed to provide the granular level of encryption required by today’s businesses. Our distribution capabilities also ensure that only those individuals you authorize can view the encrypted content you have specified for their specific needs. And, with a detailed audit trail provided by our Document Tracing capabilities, organizations always have visibility into the touchpoints and actions performed on their secure documents.
Try PDF Protector and Document Tracing today by signing up at www.confidencial.io and advance your PDF protection to the next level.