Generally, when people talk about "document security", they are referring to a server's resistance to common exploits or the obscurity of a document's location on a server. But when we start talking about document security in respect to "copy protection", there are few solutions that can protect documents from unauthorized use and also protect their content from being copied while open to view.
Today document protection is a popular topic and many developers
have exploited the need by offering what are mostly useless and
superficial protection solutions; useless because they offer
little to no protection at all and cannot be recommended where
the protection of intellectual or otherwise classified
information is mission critical.
How such applications even exist is supported by the naivety of end users who do not realize that implied "security" does not necessarily mean "secure", and also because of the naivety of the developers peddling the solution, that is, if they have any integrity in the first place. One only has to perform a web search on "protect documents" to appreciate how many different approaches and concepts currently exist. Further exploration of them will be disappointing and could leave one with the impression that real protection is not possible.
There are mainly two (2) areas of protection to consider when dealing with documents:
While it is impossible to restrict the duplication of files to send to someone else by email, download or on disk, it is possible to limit and restrict access to those files by the person receiving it, so that it does not matter who receives the file when they will not have permission to open it. This type of protection is commonly referred to as Digital Rights Management (DRM).
While a document is open, a user usually has the option of copying its contents by:
Most of these options can also be activated by using hotkeys such as "Ctrl C" for copy to the clipboard and so on.
But even after disabling menu options in the reader, pages are still at the mercy of screen capture.
To properly protect any document a custom reader is required to ensure that the file remains intact and that the usual copy/save menu options are not available. For example it is not possible to protect a Word document unless that document is encrypted and then you need a reader that can decrypt and display Word. MS Word cannot do this so you need to create a custom reader and Word resources are not open source. The same applies to almost all other file formats and for each file type you will need a reader. So a common file format is needed to narrow the field. Because PDF is a file format that most have heard of and because there are many PDF converters available today, converting most files types to PDF can be easy and economic.
Today we have many different operating systems (OS), all of
which fall into distinct family types such as Windows, Linux,
Android, MacOS, etc. So designing a copy protection solution
becomes most difficult and while it might be possible to provide
readers that prevent and limit copy and save actions, it is not
possible to do so effectively for all operating systems (OS). Yes, there are solutions
available for all OS but they have so many holes and they can be so
easily exploited that you may as well not use protection. For
example, how can anything be considered as being "protected"
when all it takes is a click of the Print Screen button to
capture a page or part thereof?
However there are worthwhile solutions for Windows computers. ArtistScope, the founder of copy protection for the Internet and leading developer of DRM since 1998, provides the most secure copy protect solutions that are supported across all Windows versions since XP.
ArtistScope provides a CopySafe Service that is second to none when it comes to preventing copy from all methods including Print Screen and screen capture. CopySafe Web was first released in 1999 and it is supported on all Windows computers. Then in 2008 CopySafe PDF was released with DRM options that revolutionized Document Rights Management. Unlike its predecessors ArtistScope DRM could not be exploited and its DRM could not be removed. Others providing document protection claimed that what ArtistScope DRM does was impossible because they couldn't understand it. It took them more than 2 years to imitate those ArtistScope processes.
ArtistScope DRM provides total control management over all documents and users with immediate effect on any changes made, even on documents that may already be saved to a user's computer or out in the wild on CD. From a control panel (web form) in the DRM Portal an author can suspend a user's account, retire a document, change its expiration or change its print restrictions. Because the reader always "phones home" to check permissions before opening any DRM protected document, control of a document subscription stays in the hands of the author.
CopySafe PDF Protection is by far the most secure solution for documents, especially when DRM is applied. Documents can not only be distributed securely by email, download or on CD, but they can also be displayed on web pages. In fact, CopySafe PDF is the only document solution that can display PDF on web pages while being protected from all avenues of copy and save including Print Screen and screen capture.
CopySafe PDF can be added to any web page regardless of which programming language is used. If you are using a CMS and/or have limited HTML skills, ArtistScope provides a variety of free modules for integrating CopySafe PDF with most popular CMS solutions:
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