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Architectural Drawings/Blueprint Security Options

New Here ,
May 19, 2020

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I have Adobe Acrobat Standard 2017. I create architectural drawings/blueprints using Revit. When I print to .pdf the files contain images, text and lines. They do not contain layers. My city has recently required files to be "flattened" but I realize this means different things to Adobe. And Standard 2017 does not have a "flatten" selection.

 

Basically I don't want my images copied, my text edited and the general public (more or less) will be viewing and commenting/marking-up the files electronically (using various unknown programs). What is the best way to secure my files across all .pdf platforms? I've read some posts about third-party programs not recognizing Adobe security and this is very concerning. Thanks!

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Architectural Drawings/Blueprint Security Options

New Here ,
May 19, 2020

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I have Adobe Acrobat Standard 2017. I create architectural drawings/blueprints using Revit. When I print to .pdf the files contain images, text and lines. They do not contain layers. My city has recently required files to be "flattened" but I realize this means different things to Adobe. And Standard 2017 does not have a "flatten" selection.

 

Basically I don't want my images copied, my text edited and the general public (more or less) will be viewing and commenting/marking-up the files electronically (using various unknown programs). What is the best way to secure my files across all .pdf platforms? I've read some posts about third-party programs not recognizing Adobe security and this is very concerning. Thanks!

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General troubleshooting, How to

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 20, 2020

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Flattening won't help you or the city.  Your best option is to save as certified. This adds a set of restrictions that any compliant viewer will respect. But if not, it will show the file has been tampered with. Another option is to also encrypt the PDF with digital certificates from the people who need to view it. No one else will be able open the PDF. 

The only other option is to purchase a DRM solution, such as locklizard. 

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New Here ,
May 31, 2020

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I'm curious why flattening won't work?

 

Also with the certificate, I need it to be an open file for anyone to view. For example, years from now my clients may sell their homes and send these files to the new homeowners. I can't possibly keep track of everyone who needs access after I initially create the documents. But I do need the files to remain exactly as I originally created them.

 

To-date I have only been applying a password to the documents. Aside from the tamper-notification, is the password route less secure than a certificate applied, for an open for anyone to view file? Thanks!

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Most Valuable Participant ,
May 31, 2020

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Flattening doesn't provide any sort of security. Flattened text can be OCRed once more or just copied as an image, and then re-typed, and images can still be copied, either directly or using screenshots. Basically, it's impossible to prevent someone from copying the contents of a file once they have access to it. If they are willing enough they can easily sit down and take a screenshot of each page and then create a brand new file from those images, without any security.

The only real security measure that works is a digital signature (or certificate). It doesn't prevent copying or editing but it does allow you to prove that a copy of the file is not legitimate, if it doesn't have your signature in it, or if that signature can't be validated using a public key.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 31, 2020

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You might also consider saving the PDF as PDF/A, archive format. And also certifying it. 

 

Certifying a PDF isn't securing it. Although compliant viewers will refuse to operate on a certified document, the digital signature doesn't prevent the PDF from being opened. It just makes sure any changes invalidate the certification and the changes are logged. 

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