There’s no denying that the rise of the cloud has been fantastic for business and personal use. You can use it for any purpose, allowing you to simply and swiftly distribute PDFs and other documents and files anywhere in the world.
However, the cloud is not without its pitfalls. Not all partners or clients can be trusted equally. What’s a serious matter of confidentiality to you may seem like nothing to others? Plus, there’s always the threat of outside intrusion and the system being compromised.
So, does your cloud storage service provider keep backups, control access to them, and keep their cloud security top notch? Unless you are fine with your information on the cloud being widely shared through the net, you must be able to answer yes to all this. If that’s not the case, you need a better alternative to document security.
The Downside to the Cloud
The cloud itself works by allowing other people, without direct access to your local network, to share files with you by accessing your shared files on an Internet server. This could be done through a controlled access portal or simply through download links. Whatever the form, the minute the unsecured file hits the person’s device, you no longer have control over it.
And, the cloud is encrypted means little here. The end user will have the decryption key or they wouldn’t be able to use the file legitimately. Depending on the existing security, the key may have been as simple as a whitelisted email or a password. Regardless, the person who receives the key, no matter where they are, has access to the file as you intend it to be viewed. So, you have a security risk.
Some cloud systems describe their solutions as secure data rooms. However, they are not really that secure since your documents are viewed in a browser and that has inherent security weaknesses that can be easily bypassed. A secure data center counts for nothing if a viewed document can easily be compromised.
How Do I Securely Distribute PDF Documents?
The answer to keeping your documents secure in the cloud and ensuring only you have a right to distribute them lies in a DRM (Digital Right Management) tool.
The process begins with encryption so no unauthorized parties can access the file in a legible way. But, DRM goes way beyond simple encryption. The DRM license which goes with your document allows you to set controls on document printing, block screen captures and copying/editing, keep the document bound to one approved device or IP range and even cause access to it to be revoked by an expiration date or manually at a later date.
All this is done before the document is uploaded to the cloud. In this way, it can’t be breached during the uploading process. So, the cloud server’s own security is a nice plus and not something you have to rely on.
What’s a Good DRM Tool for Securely Distributing PDF Documents?
There are several hallmarks of a good DRM tool. First and foremost, your encryption keys should be generated by the program, as this is a complicated process that you’re unlikely to be comfortable doing yourself. The administration system should also not, at any point, disclose the key. This may require you to use a specific DRM document viewer that’s difficult to hack.
In addition, DRM basics, such as restricted printing, disabled print screens, and blocked copy, paste and Save As commands are a must. If the document should be printable, secure watermarking must also be enabled. Moreover, you have to be able to set time parameters (start and stop dates), revoke access at any time, and limit the number of views for the document.
Also, you must be able to set up several classes of user, so each document ‘group’ can have management specialized for it. You may furthermore be interested in setting whether the document can be viewed offline or whether its views should be restricted by a country or IP range.
Once you have this solution in place, it’s a simple matter of setting who can see what forms of content in the cloud.
You can now securely distribute PDFs with a DRM tool and a little ingenuity on your side.