Controlling the distribution of confidential documents

Almost every individual and entity, be it a business or large organization, Government, Military, etc., face a pertinent issue: how to control the distribution of confidential documents.  But, more importantly, how to prevent these documents from being distributed in an unauthorized manner is a grave problem given the lack of a mechanism forbidding this action.

A broad and expansive range of files in an organization could fall under the category of commercially sensitive or confidential data.  While some of them may be just for internal consumption, others may need to be shared outside the company, in the case of M&A transactions, financial deals, etc.  In such cases, entities or individuals outside your organization may not share your definition of data security or sensitivity.  Hence, you need to enforce your document security policies over theirs with the right data security technology.

The dangers of sharing confidential documents

Distributing confidential documents can present opportunities for threat agents to gain access to your information. It could also introduce the way for uploading viruses, malware, or phishing attempts deliberately or accidentally. Therefore, it is essential to protect confidential documents end to end to prevent the loss or compromise of sensitive information.  Furthermore, controlling the distribution of confidential data is vital because even if there is a minor leak, it could result in impacting the company’s reputation massively.

The role of encryption in distributing documents securely

Typically, computer-based applications use encryption to protect documents during transmission to avoid the data from being intercepted or misused. However, only managing the content within the document can be challenging. 

That’s because encryption on its own can only help preserve the original content but does not offer any continuing data security controls on how the document can be used or misused once the data has been decrypted and returned to its original format. 

A better approach to ensuring continuous control of PDF documents containing classified information is to merge it with digital rights management or DRM technologies that have been proven to securely protect confidential content. This is because DRM controls subsequent usage of the entire document rather than safeguarding the content only at source or during transmission.

Securing confidentiality through revocation

A popular and effective DRM control is the use of document revocation to control the access to confidential data. Revoking access to confidential PDF files can render the specific file inaccessible. When you set down revocation controls on the PDF file, you proactively choose to decide how many times the recipient can view the file, or you can set down revocation or expiry controls that are automatically enforced once a certain date has been reached. This feature is particularly successful as it enforces revocation by preventing access to the document after the data has been viewed by the recipient and prevents onward sharing of the file without your knowledge.

Dynamic watermarks to secure confidentiality

Several applications can be used to add watermarks to PDFs. However, these easy-to-apply watermarks can just as easily be removed through simple watermark removal software found online. However, with PDF DRM, users cannot edit the PDF document and are prevented from taking screengrabs, thus ensuring that watermarks cannot be removed.

Maintaining confidentiality by location

PDF DRM adds further controls to your document by applying and locking the content to a specific IP address or location. In doing so, you are preventing the leakage of your data outside a particular network or group of networks. You can choose to restrict a PDF file to one network address or a group of network addresses or even specific users within an acceptable range of IP addresses. The use of IP level controls in PDF DRM is an essential feature as it can prevent your content from being illegally distributed or shared.

PDF digital rights management allows you to exert control over how your confidential and sensitive data must be viewed or used once they are electronically secured. In addition, PDF DRM prevents authorized users from intentionally or unintentionally misusing or ignoring the document security solutions you have used on your PDF files.


When looking for secure document distribution for your confidential data, you need the best-in-class PDF DRM software. An advanced PDF DRM solution will enable you to bind controls to your PDF files and provide you with complete access and usage controls to allow you to manage your documents securely and effectively.

PDF DRM provides you with a range of data security management tools to control document access and use.  Furthermore, given its powerful revocation tools, it makes it easy for you to control when access to documents automatically (or manually) ceases.  Hence, if you want to control the distribution of your confidential documents, a PDF DRM solution will provide you with all the data security features you need.

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