Once a PDF document has been sent through email, control is lost to the owner. Anyone could be viewing the data and the owner lost awareness about it. That's why as an owner of the document, I want to track the activities performed with the PDF document. I want to know about the movements of the document and whether the PDF is spread beyond the intended personnel. Also, want to track logging information like IP addresses of the devices. In my office sometimes we deal with confidential and sensitive documents. Please let me enlight how to handle these issues. Thanks in advance.

3 Answers 3


A PDF document is merely a file, it's not a program which call back the author or the sender of the E-Mail. You have the option to limit the use of the document, concerning modification, printing, etc.


You can't, not with a PDF document. It is a simple as that. That is, by the way, for almost all information. It was even so in the old paper-days: if someone shared the confidential memo with someone else, the author/writer/.... would not have known.

Once someone with access to a photocopier had the document, you would have lost awareness about who views the document. And whether the copying is done by a scriptorium full of monks or by cp yourfile.pdf myfile.pdf, the underlying principle is the same: once the genie is out of the bottle, it is free.

Almost all security people (outside film/music industry) understand this. Therefore they wish to control who has access to the data. You will limit the access to people that you trust. And you will divulge data on a need-to-know basis.

There are a few companies that will sell you DRM for PDF documents. Digify, Locklizard to name a pair. But DRM is always bothersome and there is always the 'analogue' loophole (a camera or screenshot for example).

And it is a PITA. Digify, on their website, describe it as follows:

Why is DRM not more widespread?

While DRM sounds great for protecting your documents, the ease of use and cost are typically two factors that hinder the adoption of the technology.

Many DRM solutions are difficult for both the sender and the recipient. The recipient will need to go through many steps to get to the document, including installing special software or validating their identity.

You can also watermark the individual documents. At least when you find a copy in a place where it doesn't belong, you know who spread it and you can administer appropriate castigations.


What you can do is control the access. The best Acrobat can provide is signing the document against a certificate received from the receipient. In this case, only that particular person can open the document.

With the other restrictions you can apply, you can find out who leaked (if you get your hands on the leaked document)

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .