Learn how to make your digital documents tamper-proof.
Commercial real estate brokers share
information daily with their clients, fellow agents, lenders,
attorneys, and other industry professionals. Due to the need for rapid
communication and information access, e-mail and various online
services quickly are replacing traditional communication methods, such
as postal service, overnight delivery, and even the fax machine.
Instantaneous delivery methods are more economical and easier to
access. Unfortunately, in many cases, digital documents offer little or
no security or methods for privacy.
The need for document integrity, confidentiality, and
security is inherent in broker/client relationships. The basic
principles of information security include protecting documents against
unauthorized access, assuring they come from the stated authors,
detecting unintentional or malicious alterations, preventing senders
from refuting documents they have signed, and maintaining document
security throughout the transaction process.
Systems' 6.0 versions of Acrobat Professional, Standard, and Reader
have improved document security solutions for portable document format,
or PDF, files. These security options include document control
settings, password encryption with the ability for user-targeted
encryption, digital signatures, and certified documents, as well as
complimentary security technologies.
How does this all
work? Acrobat maintains PDF security through a framework that Adobe
refers to as “persistence,” which means that the assigned security
controls remain inherent to a specific document, such as a contract,
whether it is available on a Web site or sent via e-mail. Persistence
eliminates the need to explicitly secure a communication line; thus,
anyone who has access rights to that document can read and print it.
way users can encrypt documents is by assigning them a single password.
Only recipients with the password can access the file. Authors can also
add further password security to the document to restrict modification
of permissions initially assigned to the document. These permissions
include setting document printing options, allowing users to copy or
extract words or pictures, or add or change document comments.
more powerful option is to use targeted encryption, which allows
authors to assign unique document access rights to each recipient. This
option relies upon the public key infrastructure, or PKI, to eliminate
the need for disseminating passwords to recipients. Assigning
individual document rights is simple after locating each recipient's
digital certificate, or secure electronic identity. Consult your e-mail
provider for instructions on finding the digital certificates attached
to recipients' addresses.
As an added layer of
security, digital signatures can validate who created the document, and
control any changes to document content by warning the author of any
tampering. Most importantly, digitally signed documents provide added
assurance to recipients that important documents are valid. Recipients
using the free Adobe Reader also can sign a document digitally (if this
permission is enabled by the document's author). A single PDF document
can contain multiple digital signatures, which can validate that all
required parties have reviewed an agreement.
Visit Adobe's Web site at www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/main.html for more information on Acrobat's security features.