Why Adobe PDF restrictions or permissions are useless

pdf logo adobe filetype mime type
pdf logo adobe filetype mime type
pdf logo adobe filetype mime type

Adobe was one of the earliest companies that set out to establish rules or permissions as security controls for PDF-based documents. And as such, they introduced the use of passwords to secure PDF files. Passwords became timely and handy and are still employed today as a security measure – even though it may not be a very good one. 

In addition, Adobe PDF had also invested in the concept of digital certificates to add a layer of security to PDF documents. Unfortunately, these digital certificates did not help in limiting how content could be used by an authorized individual – that still relies on passwords. At the same time, Adobe PDF also invested in lifecycle management – a concept that arose from document management sectors who were keen on controlling how documents were created, shared, and revoke. However, these controls were complex to manage and time consuming to administer.

However, using passwords as a restriction or permission application by Adobe has made it highly ineffective in securing PDF files. Let’s look at some of these disadvantages and a suitable alternative to password protecting your PDF documents.

Password protection concerns

If you are sharing an Adobe PDF document password-protected with another user, you will need to share the file with the password. Hence, it could be demanding and challenging to remember and enter complex passwords in some cases. But here is where the problem arises. Once the password has been entered to access the PDF document, you can do nothing about what happens to the content within the document. For instance, upon receiving the password for the document, the recipient can further share the information in your PDF file with an unauthorized individual. Hence, since passwords are so easily shared, it can be an almost useless document security feature to protect your Adobe PDF files.

Since an authorized user can open your Adobe PDF file with the password, they can choose to remove the password that controls password usage with a password recovery tool. In this manner, the restrictions and permissions set by Adobe PDF are rendered useless. Besides, several password cracking programs are available on the Internet for free and ensure passwords can be cracked in a matter of seconds. Therefore, if you use a poor password, the password cracking program could take less than a few minutes to remove the password to open your Adobe PDF protected file.

Unique password for every PDF document

Since using the same password in all cases is not secure, and if it is revealed, it makes your Adobe PDF files vulnerable, another option is to use a unique password for every PDF document. Unfortunately, memorizing every password for multiple PDF documents cannot be human to remember at all times. Then there are password managers that claim to store your passwords securely. Unfortunately, the likelihood of something going wrong is much greater with such password deposits. For instance, if the secure file gets hacked, all files used by the password manager will also be compromised.

This goes to show that Adobe PDF restrictions and permissions for password protection may appear simple, quick and easy but is not the right solution to protect your PDF files. The only document security that matters and provides you with end to end encryption and document security is PDF digital rights management [DRM].

What does PDF DRM do?

PDF DRM provides you with all the document security characteristics you need to safeguard your PDF files from unauthorized use and access. With PDF DRM, you no longer have to rely on useless passwords. Instead, you receive complete control over how users or recipients can access and use your PDF documents with transparent and secure key management and licensing controls.

In addition, you can also prevent the copying, printing, editing, sharing of the content within your PDF file with PDF DRM.  Besides, you can also prevent screen grabs and apply dynamic watermarks on your PDF file. Another interesting and important feature is the control of revoking access to a PDF file at any time, even after the recipient has received it. You can choose the PDF expiration control to automatically cancel access after a specified number of views or at a particular date.

PDF DRM  gives you complete control over who can view your files and how often and set down rules on when the file can no longer be viewed. You also get to see if the user views your file and if printing is allowed, when it is printed. The right and advanced PDF DRM technology will also allow you to lock your PDF files to specific computers and devices and  locations to prevent the content from being shared or distributed without your permission.


As you have seen, when it comes to document security, Adobe PDF’s restrictions and permissions are utterly ineffective in securing the safety and protection of your PDF content. Only PDF DRM takes care of your PDF content, allowing you to take complete control over your PDF files regardless of where they are stored or who they are sent to.