User Guide Cancel

Choosing a security method for PDFs

  1. Acrobat User Guide
  2. Introduction to Acrobat
    1. Acrobat DC tutorials
    2. What's new in Acrobat DC
    3. Create PDFs with Acrobat
    4. Rotate, move, delete, and renumber PDF pages
    5. Edit text in PDFs
    6. Convert PDF to Word
    7. Convert PDF to JPG
    8. Convert or export PDFs to other file formats
    9. Get started with Acrobat DC
    10. Navigating PDF pages
    11. Workspace basics | Acrobat DC
    12. System Requirements | Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, Adobe Acrobat Standard DC
    13. Workspace basics | Acrobat DC 2017, Acrobat DC Classic (2015)
  3. Workspace
    1. Workspace basics | Acrobat DC
    2. Workspace basics | Acrobat DC 2017, Acrobat DC Classic (2015)
    3. Viewing PDFs and viewing preferences
    4. Navigating PDF pages
    5. Adjusting PDF views
    6. Keyboard shortcuts
    7. Connect your online storage accounts to access files in Acrobat
    8. Grids, guides, and measurements in PDFs
    9. Flash Player needed | Acrobat, Acrobat Reader
    10. Display PDF in browser | Acrobat, Acrobat Reader
    11. Updating Acrobat and using Adobe Digital Editions
    12. Opening PDFs
    13. Asian, Cyrillic, and right-to-left text in PDFs
    14. Acrobat in Mac OS | Acrobat Pro
    15. Access Box files in Acrobat, Acrobat Reader
    16. Access Dropbox files in Acrobat, Acrobat Reader
    17. Access OneDrive files in Acrobat, Acrobat Reader
    18. Access SharePoint files in Acrobat, Acrobat Reader
    19. Access Google Drive files in Acrobat
    20. Enable thumbnail preview of PDFs in Windows Explorer
    21. Document Cloud notifications
  4. Creating PDFs
    1. Create PDFs with Acrobat
    2. Create PDFs with PDFMaker (Windows)
    3. Print to PDF
    4. Scan documents to PDF
    5. Overview of PDF creation
    6. Using the Adobe PDF printer
    7. Converting web pages to PDF
    8. PDF fonts
    9. Creating PDFs with Acrobat Distiller
    10. Adobe PDF conversion settings
  5. Editing PDFs
    1. Edit PDF using Acrobat DC
    2. Edit text in PDFs
    3. Edit images or objects in a PDF
    4. Rotate, move, delete, and renumber PDF pages
    5. Edit scanned PDFs
    6. Enhance document photos captured using a mobile camera
    7. Optimizing PDFs
    8. PDF properties and metadata
    9. Links and attachments in PDFs
    10. PDF layers
    11. Page thumbnails and bookmarks in PDFs
    12. Action Wizard (Acrobat Pro)
    13. PDFs converted to web pages
    14. Setting up PDFs for a presentation
    15. PDF articles
    16. Geospatial PDFs
    17. Applying actions and scripts to PDFs
    18. Change the default font for adding text and fallback font for editing PDF
    19. Delete pages from a PDF
  6. Scan and OCR
    1. Scan documents to PDF
    2. Enhance document photos captured using a mobile camera
    3. Edit scanned PDFs
    4. Troubleshoot scanner issues when scanning using Acrobat
  7. Forms
    1. PDF forms basics
    2. Create a form from scratch in Acrobat
    3. Create and distribute PDF forms
    4. Fill in PDF forms
    5. PDF form field properties
    6. Fill and sign PDF forms
    7. Setting action buttons in PDF forms
    8. Publishing interactive PDF web forms
    9. PDF form field basics
    10. PDF barcode form fields
    11. Collect and manage PDF form data
    12. About forms tracker
    13. PDF forms help
    14. Send PDF forms to recipients using email or an internal server
  8. Combining files
    1. Combine or merge files into single PDF
    2. Rotate, move, delete, and renumber PDF pages
    3. Add headers, footers, and Bates numbering to PDFs
    4. Crop PDF pages
    5. Add watermarks to PDFs
    6. Add backgrounds to PDFs
    7. Working with component files in a PDF Portfolio
    8. Publish and share PDF Portfolios
    9. Overview of PDF Portfolios
    10. Create and customize PDF Portfolios
  9. Sharing, reviews, and commenting
    1. Share and track PDFs online
    2. Mark up text with edits
    3. Preparing for a PDF review
    4. Starting a PDF review
    5. Hosting shared reviews on SharePoint or Office 365 sites
    6. Participating in a PDF review
    7. Use annotation and drawing markup tools to add comments in PDFs
    8. Adding a stamp to a PDF
    9. Approval workflows
    10. Managing comments | view, reply, print
    11. Importing and exporting comments
    12. Tracking and managing PDF reviews
    13. Adobe Document Cloud for Outlook
  10. Saving and exporting PDFs
    1. Saving PDFs
    2. Convert PDF to Word
    3. Convert PDF to JPG
    4. Convert or export PDFs to other file formats
    5. File format options for PDF export
    6. Reusing PDF content
  11. Security
    1. Enhanced security setting for PDFs
    2. Securing PDFs with passwords
    3. Manage Digital IDs
    4. Securing PDFs with certificates
    5. Opening secured PDFs
    6. Removing sensitive content from PDFs
    7. Setting up security policies for PDFs
    8. Choosing a security method for PDFs
    9. Security warnings when a PDF opens
    10. Securing PDFs with Adobe Experience Manager - Forms Server (Document Security)
    11. Protected View feature for PDFs (Windows only)
    12. Overview of security in Acrobat and PDFs
    13. JavaScripts in PDFs as a security risk
    14. Attachments as security risks in Acrobat DC and Acrobat Reader DC
    15. Allow or block links in PDFs for all or selected websites
  12. Electronic signatures
    1. Sign PDF documents
    2. Capture your signature on mobile and use it everywhere
    3. Send documents for signature
    4. About certificate signatures in Adobe Acrobat
    5. Certificate-based signatures
    6. Validating digital signatures
    7. Adobe Approved Trust List
    8. Manage trusted identities
  13. Printing
    1. Basic PDF printing tasks
    2. Print Booklets and PDF Portfolios
    3. Advanced PDF print settings
    4. Print to PDF
    5. Printing color PDFs (Acrobat Pro)
    6. Printing PDFs in custom sizes
  14. Accessibility, tags, and reflow
    1. Create and verify PDF accessibility (Acrobat Pro)
    2. Accessibility features in PDFs
    3. Reading Order tool for PDFs (Acrobat Pro)
    4. Reading PDFs with reflow and accessibility features
    5. Edit document structure with the Content and Tags panels (Acrobat Pro)
    6. Creating accessible PDFs
  15. Searching and indexing
    1. Creating PDF indexes
    2. Searching PDFs
  16. Multimedia and 3D models
    1. Add audio, video, and interactive objects to PDFs
    2. Adding 3D models to PDFs (Acrobat Pro)
    3. Displaying 3D models in PDFs
    4. Interacting with 3D models
    5. Measuring 3D objects in PDFs
    6. Setting 3D views in PDFs
    7. Enable 3D content in PDF
    8. Adding multimedia to PDFs
    9. Commenting on 3D designs in PDFs
    10. Playing video, audio, and multimedia formats in PDFs
    11. Add comments to videos (Acrobat Pro)
  17. Print production tools (Acrobat Pro)
    1. Print production tools overview (Acrobat Pro)
    2. Printer marks and hairlines (Acrobat Pro)
    3. Previewing output (Acrobat Pro)
    4. Transparency flattening (Acrobat Pro)
    5. Color conversion and ink management (Acrobat Pro)
    6. Trapping color (Acrobat Pro)
  18. Preflight (Acrobat Pro)
    1. PDF/X-, PDF/A-, and PDF/E-compliant files (Acrobat Pro)
    2. Preflight profiles (Acrobat Pro)
    3. Advanced preflight inspections (Acrobat Pro)
    4. Preflight reports (Acrobat Pro)
    5. Viewing preflight results, objects, and resources (Acrobat Pro)
    6. Output intents in PDFs (Acrobat Pro)
    7. Correcting problem areas with the Preflight tool (Acrobat Pro)
    8. Automating document analysis with droplets or preflight actions (Acrobat Pro)
    9. Analyzing documents with the Preflight tool (Acrobat Pro)
    10. Additional checks in the Preflight tool (Acrobat Pro)
    11. Preflight libraries (Acrobat Pro)
    12. Preflight variables (Acrobat Pro)
  19. Color management
    1. Keeping colors consistent
    2. Color settings
    3. Color-managing documents
    4. Working with color profiles
    5. Understanding color management
Note:

For a full list of articles about security, see Overview of security in Acrobat and PDF content.

By adding security to documents, you can limit viewing, editing, printing, and other options to only the specified users.

Choosing which type of security to use

Security features range from relatively simple measures to sophisticated systems adopted by corporations and agencies. Which feature you choose depends on what you want to achieve. Here are some examples:

  • You want only certain people to view your PDF. The easiest solution is to add a password to the PDF and send it to your intended recipients. (See Add password security.)

  • You don’t want anyone to print or edit your PDF. You can block printing and editing from the same dialog box that you use to add a password. (See Add password security.)

  • You want to assure your recipients that the PDF is really from you. The best way is to purchase a digital ID from a certificate authority. Alternatively, you can create a self-signed digital ID if you are communicating with a group that you trust. (See About digital IDs and Securing documents with certificates.)

  • You want an organization-wide security solution for PDFs. You can devise a solution specifically for a company handling sensitive data. Some organizations use Adobe LiveCycle Rights Management ES to apply a policy to documents. The policy contains the list of recipients and their individual set of permissions. Individuals can use a policy to apply the same security settings to numerous documents. (See Securing documents with Adobe LiveCycle Rights Management ES.)

Security policies

A security policy enforces systematic constraints on information flow and exchange within an organization. You can use Adobe LiveCycleRights Management ES to apply a policy to documents without the need for digital signatures and certificates. If you often apply the same security settings to PDFs, consider creating a security policy to simplify your workflow. Different policies are useful for accommodating different requirements.

Envelope policy

You can secure multiple documents by embedding them in a PDF envelope. You can encrypt envelopes to prevent unauthorized users from accessing the contents and certify them to provide proof of origin. Authorized recipients can open the envelope and extract the files to view them.

LiveCycle Rights Management ES policy

Adobe LiveCycleRights Management ES policies are stored on a server, and users must have access to the server to use them. Creating these policies requires specifying the document recipients from a list on Adobe LiveCycleRights Management ES.

Password and certificate policies

Save your password or certificate settings and reuse them to encrypt PDFs without setting up the password or certificate for each instance.

Note:

If you apply security settings to a PDF Portfolio in Acrobat Pro, including the component documents, you can automate the steps by using Action Wizard (Choose Tools > Action Wizard).

Protection required:

Action:

Require a password to open a PDF, or copy or print its contents

Choose Tools > Protect > More Options > Encrypt with Password. For a PDF Portfolio, choose View > Portfolio > Cover Sheet. Then choose Tools > Protect > More Options > Encrypt With Password.

If your company is signed up, you can also use Adobe LiveCycle Rights Management ES to secure documents.

When you use Action Wizard to apply security to PDF Portfolios in Acrobat Pro, the child documents are secured, but the cover sheet is not.

Indicate that you approve of the PDF content

Sign and certify the PDF. You must obtain a digital ID to add digital signatures. Buy a digital ID (see the Adobe website for security partners) or create a self-signed one. See Create a self-signed digital ID.

For Asian languages, you can add an approval stamp.

Prevent forms from being tampered with

Use LiveCycle Designer to secure forms and create locking signature fields. See the Adobe LiveCycle Designer Help.

Send secure file attachments via email

Use security envelopes. (Tools > Protect > More Options > Create Security Envelope.

Allow only the people you specify to view a PDF

Choose Tools > Protect > More Options > Encrypt With Certificate, or apply security using Adobe LiveCycleRights Management ES. You must have certificates for users who can view the documents.

Additional resources

For more information on using security features, see these resources:

Choosing security methods within FIPS mode (Windows)

Acrobat and Reader provide a FIPS mode to restrict data protection to Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS). FIPS mode uses FIPS 140-2 approved algorithms using the RSA BSAFE Crypto-C Micro Edition (ME) 3.0.0.1 cryptographic module.

The following security options are not available in FIPS mode:

  • Applying password-based security policies to documents. You can use public key certificates or Adobe LiveCycleRights Management ES to secure the document. However, you cannot use password encryption to secure the document.

  • Creating self-signed certificates. To create a self-signed digital ID, it must be saved to the Windows certificate store. You cannot create a self-signed digital ID that is saved to a file.

  • RC4 encryption. A PDF file can only be encrypted by using the AES encryption algorithm when in FIPS mode.

  • MD5 or RIPEMD160 digest methods. In FIPS mode, only the SHA-1 and SHA-2 families of digest algorithms can be used when creating a digital signature.

In FIPS mode, you can open and view documents that are protected with algorithms that are not FIPS compliant. However, you can’t save any changes to the document using password security. To apply security policies to the document, use either public key certificates or Adobe LiveCycleRights Management ES.

FIPS mode is configured in the Windows registry by a system administrator. For more information, see Digital Signatures Guide (PDF) at www.adobe.com/go/learn_acr_security_en.

Adobe logo

Sign in to your account