Want to Keep Document from Being Illegally Shared on the Internet? Here’s How

Many people will get a headache just thinking about content control. It is so hard keeping documents out of the hands of unauthorized users especially since they can be so easily distributed over the internet. Even hard copies of documents can be scanned and turned into PDFs and then sent via email or added to a website for download. Of course, this could mean losses for those who own the data and the other parties involved in managing it.

To prevent unauthorized access and use of documents, the controls employed need to start from an electronic standpoint and encompass everything a person can do with a file. For example, before you allow printing of a document, you should ensure a dynamic watermark (one that is applied at the print time and contains useful information and a date/time stamp) is embedded into the text so that you can identify anyone who leaks a printed copy.

DRM controls are the right way to go as they enforce controls on everything a person can do with an electronic document. These document controls include the following:

Stopping any screen grabbing methods

The screenshot is just one area where a user can copy and duplicate content. Once a user has taken a screenshot image they can save it and distribute it to others. The saved image will not have the same features as the original file (search facilities, links, etc.) but it is clear that users should be prevented from taking screenshots in order to spread content. Document DRM systems use various techniques to stop screen grabs from being taken, making it more difficult for users to share your content illegally.

Regardless of the above restrictions, someone can still use a camera to take photos of a file which can then be collated to create a PDF. A dynamic watermark could be the only solution to this problem since (as indicated above) watermarks allow the source of a leak to be identified.

Stopping the copying and pasting of content

Allowing users to highlight or copy and paste sections in a document can lead to the document content being available in an unsecured format. So, DRM does not allow such options to be available as they could compromise the security of documents. In this way, no one will have the opportunity to send out a confidential file on the internet.

Stopping the forwarding of confidential files

Over time, stopping files being forwarded has proven to be easier said than done. Luckily, DRM has the perfect countermeasure. DRM does not stop the file from being shared. Instead, it prevents any unauthorized person from using the shared file.

This might be a little confusing to some, so we will break it down. Firstly, the unauthorized user will need to have a PDF viewer that allows them access to the file. Secondly, even if the person has the viewer, he or she will still be unable to view the file because they must be licensed to view the file. The viewer will check for a decryption key on the host computer and if the viewer cannot find the decryption key, the PDF viewer will check the administration server which will show that the party is unauthorized. Therefore, the file will not open. Authorized users will be transparently sent a decryption key to view the file. This decryption key cannot be shared because it is locked to the device that it is downloaded to and stored encrypted in a keystore – unlike passwords, the authorized user does not even know what the key is.

Stopping printing

By not allowing printing you can ensure that photocopies of your documents are not made. DRM can be used to limit the number of high-quality prints or prevent printing altogether.

Revoking files

There may be times when you have distributed documents by mistake or need to revoke an old copy in favor of the latest edition. DRM can be used to instantly revoke document access. This can be access to the document for all users, a single user’s access to a document, or a single user’s access to all documents.

Auditing use

Sometimes the easiest way of finding out how your documents are being used is by logging when they are viewed and printed. Any suspicious behavior can then be nipped in the bud. DRM lets you log when and where documents were viewed and printed.


Using DRM means you can distribute documents securely without having to worry that they will end up on the Internet where anyone can access and use them. It ensures you have full control over your documents even after they have left your premises.

Also Read: ATF In-Depth: Email Spams and How to get Rid of them

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