Apply security to a PDF document when saving
October 9, 2017 4:09 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for a solution to allow superusers to create PDFs with forms that could/would be encrypted when they are saved and only opened by the superuser once saved/submitted and delivered (via email/ftp/dropbox etc)?

Meaning the document/form wouldn't initially require a password to open in its empty state but would require a password to open once saved.

Any suggestions for for ROLYO (roll your own) solutions or 3rd party solutions (locklizard, cytrix etc)?

Thanks in advance.
posted by specialk420 to Computers & Internet (2 answers total)
Password to open is more troublesome than needing a password to change info. (Most "secure forms" software and process descriptions deal with making the PDF unable to be edited without the password, not locked against opening.)

Let me see if I understand this: You have PDFs with forms to be sent out to individuals; they will fill out those forms, save the PDF, and return it; you want a way to lock them on return so that they need a password to open. Is that correct?

I'm pretty sure there's not going to be anything that allows end users to attach a password-to-open on saving the filled-out form; most people will be using Acrobat Reader and that's got limited functions. (Also, even if they had software that would lock it, you'd be stuck hoping they sent you the password that would open it.)

There are free online "upload PDF & password; get back a locked PDF" sites like
Acrobat Pro/DC will allow you to add them manually. If you have a couple dozen, either of those may be feasible.

Or you may be looking into one of the webform-to-PDF bits of software, and see about adding a password lock to those. It's probably easier if they all have the same password in that case; each password being unique would be much harder to set up.

Could you make it work if the PDF were locked and you gave out that password to people who needed to fill out the form, instead of locking it after it's returned?
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 5:13 PM on October 9, 2017

This feels like one of those times where OP has a problem, but the question is actually about an implementation plan that's not viable.

First, PDF security is hilariously weak. You can download free tools online to crack them.

Second, this sure sounds like a situation where a web-based approach would work better -- maybe even something like SurveyMonkey.
posted by uberchet at 12:19 PM on October 10, 2017

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