Annotating a PDF - Don't Forget Security

In case you are doing this - sending a PDF without any sort of security applied, is .. well... risky.  

A common task these days, is to 'edit' PDF content - often by highlighting, adding comment balloons, adding strike-through, or text.   These edits are added to a "layer" in the PDF.

If you simply send an edited PDF to a recipient, they can change or delete these edits if they have use of a PDF editing solution like Adobe Acrobat or pdfDocs.  Thus, you run the risk of the recipient making unwanted changes to your edits.

The solution to prevent unwanted editing is quite simple - apply security.   In the example of Adobe Acrobat, (a) open your PDF in Adobe Acrobat, and go to Tools / Protection.   Choose Encrypt and use the password option.   Once you confirm you wish to change security in this PDF, you will be presented with a screen offering a range of security options.  

In the security settings, notice the "Permissions" section of this dialog.  You are able to (a) disable printing and (b) also / separately / permit functions ranging from NONE (cannot change ANY content in the PDF), to options to manipulate pages, fill in form fields, add comments - and the option to make any changes but not extract pages.

Under the "Encrypt" / Manage option you will also find an option to create security templates which can be applied with a single click.  This can be a very convenient way for users to access multiple levels of security - and apply the appropriate level with 1 click.

Use security - its quick, simple, and pretty bullet-proof.  Its also the only way to assure your content remains as intended.

Why lawyers love paper

I have - for a long time now - been confounded by the lack of adoption by attorneys when it comes to the 'paperless office'.  There are some great tools available - which are improving all the time which make the paperless office entirely possible.  So its not for a lack of good technology.

Adoption is the key to any technology initiative, and efforts to create the paperless office often run into problems when it comes to 'how to read a document'.  Lawyers prefer paper to reading on screen.  Thanks to Scientific American magazine, I have a new understanding of the issue of paper vs. on-screen reading.

Turns out - there is a scientific reason for a preference for paper.  (read the article here).   So what's the solution?

First step - recognize that attorneys will continue reading from paper.

Next Step: efficiently facilitate creating paper copies of documents.  My suggestion:  (a) in the context of the paperless office, continue to scan everything and (b) create a way to easily print a 'reading copy' for lawyers to work from.   The reading-copy would likely be identified by a footer added to the MS-Word document or PDF document which indicates date-printed, version number of the document, and a notation indicating "Reading Copy - not for filing".

Are you already doing this?  Comments and suggestions welcome!

Shellshock Primmer

The Bash Shell bug is here (and its apparently been here for a long while). This bug is not related to MS-Windows devices but does touch a large number of other devices including iOS devices.  Here are some recent articles about the bug - and a patch your IT professionals can apply to the appropriate devices.

What is the Shell Bash bug?

More on the bug and what it means.

The folks at Biscom have published advice on a patch your IT professionals can apply to affected devices. This is not for beginners and is not something you should undertake without the help of an IT professional.