Why you should put a password on a PDF, and how to do it
With the recent Equifax breach, which put the personal information of hundreds of millions of Americans at serious risk, we're reminded that it's more important than ever to protect our digital property.
Your digital property comprises things like your photos, emails, audio and video files, websites, social media profiles (i.e. your online reputation), and documents like PDFs. And the value of all this digital property? Experts say that it is worth roughly $55,000 - a number that's likely rising as we put more and more of our data into the cloud.
PDFs - particularly any PDF files that include any personal information - should be included in this property, whether they're used in your work place, or for personal and financial documents like mortgage or car loans, or tax filings.
Passwords are the most secure method we currently have to protect our online identities and property. And the stronger - and less memorable - the password is, the better. And now, with PDF Pro's Password tool, you can use strong, unique passwords to encrypt and protect your important files.
When do you need to password protect a file?
There are plenty of instances where password protecting a file can give you peace of mind and protect your most sensitive information. When you password protect a file, you lock it from unwanted eyes - so only someone with the password can open it and view the contents.
This means you have greater control over who can access the information. If you're filling out a form online, and want to make sure that it can only be viewed by the person you're sending it to, use password protection to guard it.
Password Protecting Your Work
From sharing confidential information with colleagues, to protecting sensitive data for employees when storing digital files, using password protected PDF files is vital in the workplace.
There's plenty of reason to be protective of your work product. As much as we always like to hope that we're part of a team, the truth is that some of your colleagues may be willing to steal or piggyback on your ideas to climb up the corporate ladder. By safeguarding your work, you're more able to focus on delivering profitable, unique ideas - rather than worrying that they'll be stolen.
Another facet to consider is the need to present your ideas to a client, colleague or manager in context. By protecting your work from unwanted eyes, and limiting who is able to view it until it's ready, you have a better chance of polishing your presentation before it's available to a larger group. You can be sure that it's seen in its best light - and you'll have the time to collect statistics, customer feedback and industry data to back it up.
PDF ProTip: Not using PDFs for your work? You can use PDF Pro to convert many of the most popular file types to PDF before adding a password.
Protecting Your Personal Information
Applying for a home loan? Preparing your tax documentation for your accountant? Most PDF forms that you'll be asked to complete include personally identifiable - and often sensitive - information. While it's much easier and more efficient to complete forms electronically, and even add a signature before sending it back over email, you will want to take the extra step of adding a password to the file before returning it.
This extra step protects your information both during transit and from anyone who may access your computer, or the receiver's computer, where the file is saved. You have control over who can access your physical hardware - like your desktop computer, laptop or mobile tablet, but you don't have control over the devices of the people you send files to.
For additional safeguarding, send the password over a separate method of communication - like text message, to ensure that if a hacker or thief gains access to one device, they still won't have what they need to open your file.
Protecting PDF From Unwanted Edits
Beyond safeguarding your data, you'll also want to prevent unwanted edits to your PDF documents. If you control who can view the PDF file, you can also better control who can edit it - so if changes are made, you'll know who's responsible. This can also be helpful when working with a group of people - by limiting access to the file only to those in the group, no one has to worry about edits being made from anyone outside of the work team. For collaborative tasks, this makes it much easier to work together without worry.
Now that you know all the reasons why you should encrypt a PDF with a password, here's some tips on creating a great, strong password to use.
How to Create a Strong Password
Security experts recommend using a strong password to protect online accounts and personal data. But what is a strong password? And how do you remember it?
A strong password should be at least 16 characters, with a combination of numbers, upper- and lowercase letters, and special characters. Avoid using words that can be found in a dictionary - in English or other languages. Passwords should always, always be unique - so don't ever reuse passwords across accounts or separate documents.
But how do you remember all these unique, long passwords? Use a password manager like 1Password or Last Pass to store your passwords securely - they use strong encryption to protect your data, and you'll have access to them when you need them.
With a few small additions to your regular work flow, you can better protect your information from unwanted eyes. And given how much you own in digital and intellectual property, it's time to take securing it seriously.