Are PDF based credentials secure

Are PDF based credentials secure

Mrunal Upadhye :

Are PDF based credentials secure

Are PDF based credentials secure

PDF, short for Portable Document Format, as the name suggests is a format used to share or display documents in an electronic form. It was developed by Adobe in 1992, mainly for the purpose to present and exchange documents irrespective of what system the person viewing the document uses.

PDF Security and How it works:

PDF allows its users to encrypt the document and limits the viewerโ€™s controls from editing, translating, printing, modifying, and so on. The encryption allows users to securely share the document and prevent it from taking unauthorized actions or getting tampered with by the viewer.

PDF security may include:

PDF encryption: PDF encryption protects the content of the document from getting accessed by unauthorized users.

Password protection: Confidential documents can be protected with a password, this will only allow users with the password to access the document.

Watermarking: One of the most traditional ways of protecting the document from getting tampered with is watermarking. Watermarking declares the ownership of the documents which would help the viewer use them accordingly.

PDF restrictions: Adobe Acrobat allows the users to enable PDF restrictions that limit the access of the viewer from editing and printing.

DRM controls: Digital Rights Management (DRM), controls what the viewer can do with the document. DRM acts as a barrier by controlling the actions of the viewer that has access to the document.

Is PDF security flawed?

Recently, academy students from Germanyโ€™s Ruhr-University Bochum researched how PDFs can be manipulated and tampered with. The research stated how digitally signed documents may be vulnerable to Sneaky Signature Attack (SSA) and Evil Annotation Attack (EAA). These attacks can completely change second-party rights by changing the content of the document.

Apart from this PDF security is flawed with injecting the JavaScript code with malicious content, creating malware through spam and hyperlinks, encrypted and password protected documents can be easily accessed through unauthorized tools.

How to secure PDF credentials?

PDF security comes with its own set of flaws and vulnerabilities. To secure digital credentials, like digital certificates and digital badges, documents must be secured using a digital credential platform that provides utmost security and verifiable credentials to generate a PDF document.

Verification using a digital credential platform helps verify the validity of the document making it difficult to get tampered with and preventing duplication.

In Conclusion:

PDF documents are the easiest to share and portable documents. With all the pros that it comes with, PDF does lack security and is highly vulnerable. To prevent the document from getting tampered with it is advisable to get it verified from a quality digital credential platform or encrypt the document with top-most security.

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