Why Digital Signatures & Block Encryption Fall Short in Securing Documents and PDFs

Why Digital Signatures & Block Encryption Fall Short in Securing Documents and PDFs

Digitally signing PDFs do not ensure document integrity and neither does block encryption secure a PDF. A PDF can be opened and saved by anyone but is not considered secure by many standards, especially in light of the number of malware attacks against PDF readers. Unencrypted PDF files could contain malicious code, including malware. 

Most of the time, malicious code embedded in a PDF will cause a user to visit a malicious site or download a virus. Often, legitimate business-related PDFs are misused to disseminate viruses. According to Kaspersky Lab, cybercriminals created fraudulent and fake documents to deliver malware, spyware and advertising ware. When this is done in a well-designed way, it can result in real damage to a company and its users.

What do companies need to know?

Digital Signatures and Block Encryption are important features of a PDF reader, but their use does not ensure document security. It is recommended that organizations use PDF DRM solutions to safeguard PDF files and documents

To prevent malicious code from being embedded into PDFs, organizations should select a PDF reader that is licensed with the appropriate security certificates.

As outlined above, most PDF readers fail to ensure the integrity of a document. Some users may also include malicious code in a PDF file, though most do not. Even if you select a PDF reader that provides digital signatures and encrypts your document, a sophisticated user might choose to embed malware into it anyway.

Most users won’t pay any attention to digital signatures and block encryption, but a hacker could use software to exploit these features to embed malicious code or trick the user into viewing a malicious PDF. 

PDF DRM solutions ensure the safety of documents and PDF files by utilizing digital signature and encryption technology to verify the identity of the owner. These solutions use a cryptographic hash algorithm (EHMASH) that takes the content of the file and reduces it down to the smallest possible amount that can be converted into a 32-bit number. Any unauthorized changes to the contents of the file will result in large changes in the amount of data stored in the file and in the version number.

As outlined in Kaspersky Lab’s cybersecurity and digital protection whitepaper, valid digital signatures and digital block encryption can be implemented by PDF DRM solutions in many ways. PDF DRM solutions support various industries, such as banking, automotive, government, military and transport sectors. 

In addition to verifying the content of a PDF file, these solutions ensure that the user of the device is the owner of the document.

Also, in some cases, digital signatures and block encryption are used to provide document security by giving the owner of the document the ability to revoke digital signatures and/or to restrict the file’s ability to be modified by other people. The presence of a digital signature and block encryption also adds to the overall security of the document, as users can’t alter it without the owner’s approval.

A user should be able to revoke digital signatures and block encryption. If the document is taken out of the author’s control, the document’s original signature/block encryption may be lost and the original content will not be protected. With a digital signature/block encryption, the user can use tools to digitally sign and unlock the document.

PDF DRM solutions are also helpful for granting different users access to a document. In some cases, only employees have full access to a document. In other cases, only certain authorized individuals are allowed to view the document. In a third case, the user needs to provide access to a specific document to a user. These specific digital signatures and block encryption can be granted to users and removed with the click of a button.

Furthermore, unlike traditional PDF readers, a PDF DRM solution gives the user full control over the PDF file, which can be important in some scenarios. For example, PDF DRM solutions can be used to deliver a document to people outside the company.

Many PDF reader applications, especially free PDF readers, do not provide a digital signature and block encryption by default but may include these features as a software option.

Read More: Top 5 PDF Viewer WordPress Plugins

How to protect your company and documents

Businesses can minimize the risks involved when using PDF DRM solutions. Many companies have already started using PDF DRM solutions, but companies still need to learn the best ways to protect documents with these solutions and ensure their security.

Organizations can prevent piracy and ensure the protection of their documents by including encryption and digital signature features.  Make sure you select a PDF DRM solution to protect your documents from unauthorized sharing. With the right PDF DRM solution, you can provide secure document sharing, ensuring that your documents are not shared with anyone who is not authorized. DRM software encrypts and verifies that a document is an original document and that all changes are made by the owner of the document – i.e. users cannot edit it.

Adequate security measures can significantly reduce the risk of theft and loss of intellectual property by locking down corporate data and documents that can be used to trick consumers or companies.  By ensuring your company’s PDF files are secure, you can also help prevent your company’s intellectual property from being stolen.


For companies or businesses that keep critical data or documents, keeping them safe should be a priority. By implementing a proper security solution, such as PDF DRM, you can significantly reduce the risk of your data or documents being leaked or manipulated. 

If you are interested in purchasing a PDF DRM solution that you can integrate into your business, consider choosing document security software that does not use passwords. PDF DRM solutions help you manage, protect and control the content of your digital files and ensure that it remains safe.

Muhammad Anees is a Digital Marketing Consultant. Also, he is the admin behind webhosttricks. He helps clients and businesses to grow their online presence by making authority and generating more traffic, leads, and sales.
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