These days, a lot of information is gathered and stored in the form of word documents. However, if other people get a hold of your confidential documents, it could become a problem.
For example, they can change the content and claim it as their own. This scenario is especially bad if you are a creative writer as this could interfere with your source of income. And, in a corporate setup, the documents may contain trade secrets and the perpetrator may end up selling them to the highest bidder. Again, your company will then probably suffer losses as a result.
While the above scenarios are not similar to all word documents, it is clear that some need to protect their files from prying eyes and external tampering. What is common practice now is to convert the documents to PDFs and password protect them. While we commend people for being proactive in their document security, we have to note that this countermeasure does not do much good. This is because passwords have many issues regarding their use and can be easily broken or removed. Nevertheless, you are still half right if you have elected to change your word document into a PDF.
Issues that Plague Password Protection as a Security Measure
- Password forgetfulness: With all the passwords people have to remember and use, who can blame them if they forget them sometimes. There are also all these rules about creating a password that make them so complicated that they are even easier to forget. Also, what happens if you need a new password for every document and you have twenty of them. There is no way you will be able to remember all those passwords so you will have to write them down and keep a list of them.
- Password theft: You might write down the twenty passwords which might seem like a necessity at the time. But, if someone rips out the page of your notebook that contains those passwords, you will remain locked out, while someone else has full control of your documents.
- Password sharing: You might also need to share your password with someone else so they can also view a document you have protected. But, they can then give it to others indiscriminately and you would be none the wiser.
- Password removal and cracking: We often hear of big corporations and government institutions being hacked. But what makes you think your documents are any different? People can use hacking programs to bypass your security or even remove a document’s protection altogether. Some apps are intended for other purposes, but can also be used to eliminate passwords. A good example of this is the Google Drive app.
- Adobe permissions password: We have already established that people can bypass passwords. And, the permissions password is even easier to crack once you have the password to open the document. Remember that you will also have to share the “document open password” sometimes (so people can view your protected documents) which makes the permissions password even more obsolete since it can be removed in seconds by freely available password recovery tools.
- No accountability: How do you know who is using your document? You simply cannot. How then can you be sure that your document is safe?
- No control: How do you control what someone can do with your document – whether they can print it or how long they can view it for? These types of features are only available in document DRM systems.
Issues that Could Be Solved by Using a Document DRM system
- Password forgetfulness, theft, sharing, and hacking: Once you start using a DRM system with licensing control, passwords will be a thing of the past. What you get in their place is the ability to transfer keys securely and transparently to an authorized device. There are no passwords for you or users to manage or forget.
- Stopping sharing: To prevent users sharing documents with others you can lock documents to specific devices and locations. For example, you could send a document to your lawyers and lock it to their office desktop. They will neither be able to leave the office with it, nor share it with any other device.
- Accountability: Knowing what people are doing with your documents is entirely possible since you can log document use. And, as soon as you notice any suspicious activity, you can elect to revoke access instantly.
- Permissions: you can stop any function that may compromise your file’s security. In this way, those copy and paste shortcuts should no longer give you any trouble. What is more, nothing can be done to remove this protection unless you (the administrator) desire it.
Is your document’s security important to you? If so, choosing an option better than a password system for protecting Word documents should be a no-brainer. All that is left for you to do is deciding when to make the move.