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PDF file with printing restrictions still prints from gmail browser

Explorer ,
Mar 17, 2016 Mar 17, 2016

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I have saved a pdf that is password protected. The file is pretty much locked down, no printing, no altering images, no copying text...

But the problem is that when the file is viewed as an attachment in gmail and comes up in 'preview' mode of the browser (in this case, firefox) it can be printed from the browser. any way to fix this? basically adobe security has been bypassed very simply even without a sophisticated hack. #disappointed adobe!

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Acrobat SDK and JavaScript , Windows

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correct answers 1 Correct answer

Mar 18, 2016 Mar 18, 2016

Actually, it depends on how you password protect a document. If you simply put a password on the file, but don't encrypt it, yes, non-complying applications can and will open the PDF file. But you can encrypt.

See Securing PDFS with passwords, Adobe Acrobat.

           - Dov

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Adobe Employee ,
Mar 17, 2016 Mar 17, 2016

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Hi ,

If possible could you please share the file with us on dim85201@adobe.com?

We need to review the file at our end and update you regarding the same.

Regards

Sukrit Dhingra

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Explorer ,
Mar 18, 2016 Mar 18, 2016

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coming your way now...

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Community Expert ,
Mar 18, 2016 Mar 18, 2016

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This has nothing to do with Adobe. The fault lies entirely with the developers of Firefox (or possibly Google, if it's a part of Gmail) who didn't implement the security restrictions correctly in their PDF plugin. You should report this issue to them.

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Explorer ,
Mar 18, 2016 Mar 18, 2016

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while that may be the case, it is still very disturbing. i feel violated. so what you are telling me is that an adobe pdf file that is security password protected really isn't?

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Community Expert ,
Mar 18, 2016 Mar 18, 2016

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It is, as long as you're using Adobe software. In any other application it's up to that application's developer how they implement it.

The PDF specifications are open and anyone that wants to can create an application to open PDF files. Some people follow the specifications relating to security more closely than others.

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Mar 18, 2016 Mar 18, 2016

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Actually, it depends on how you password protect a document. If you simply put a password on the file, but don't encrypt it, yes, non-complying applications can and will open the PDF file. But you can encrypt.

See Securing PDFS with passwords, Adobe Acrobat.

           - Dov

- Dov Isaacs, former Adobe Principal Scientist (April 30, 1990 - May 30, 2021)

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New Here ,
Oct 17, 2018 Oct 17, 2018

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I have followed the instructions on the linked page to encrypt my document to not allow printing of my PDF created in the most recent version of InDesign.

Unfortunately still, when you attach the encrypted secure document in a Gmail message, all the recipient has to do is click on the preview thumbnail to open, and then click on the 'print' button to print. It is as if there is no protection at all.

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Community Expert ,
Oct 17, 2018 Oct 17, 2018

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Yes, this happens when you use the PDF viewer of Google.

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Community Expert ,
Mar 21, 2016 Mar 21, 2016

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When you set the password security you will get following message:

Bild2a.jpg

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New Here ,
Sep 13, 2022 Sep 13, 2022

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I'll go one more. I have a document secured in Acrobat DC and then opening file via guest access through Microsoft 365 in Microsoft Edge. The documents are set so they can be opened but the viewer cannot print, download, etc – all of the editing security settings. For a Microsoft guest user (different Office 365 account) the PDF security works on the 1st page and presents a blank page in Edge BUT if the user scrolls through the document – they CAN view and print that page. It is rendered so it looks like it is from a browser but they are still able to print page by page except the 1st page and then could theoretically put through OCR.

For a gmail guest user using Edge it’s even worse – they can print ANY page including the 1st page but, again, only page by page. Seems something is broken here with how Acrobat is using Edge because clearly it IS working on the 1st page with the Microsoft guest user fine and the print preview presented is blank and printing results in a blank page. For gmail guest access (also opened in Microsoft Edge), the print display shows fine for the first page. You can't scroll in the print dialog so it's impossible to print more than the first page but the first page can and does print fine when accessed via a gmail guest user and the guest user can scroll and THEN print each individual page. I've attached a sample file which manifests the same behavior. Password on sample document: abc123@@!

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Community Expert ,
Sep 13, 2022 Sep 13, 2022

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"Seems something is broken here with how Acrobat is using Edge ..."

It is a issue of the PDF viewer in Edge. Acrobat doesn't use Edge.

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Enthusiast ,
Sep 14, 2022 Sep 14, 2022

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Please be aware that anything that can be displayed on some computer, technically can also be exported as bitmap or printout. You can make that more complicated, e.g. by using a proprietary file format etc., but that merely makes things a bit more difficult, not impossible.

 

As @try67 already mentioned, PDF is an open standard. Thus, there is nothing preventing anyone from implementing a PDF reader that can print the PDF ignoring all permission settings (by design or by error) as long as it can read the PDF at all.

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