Locked PDFs and Microsoft print to PDF

New Here ,
Feb 18, 2021 Feb 18, 2021

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We have been locking documents via Adobe Acrobat and other PDF generating software. Today we learn if a PDF is open in Windows 10 and then use the Microsoft print to PDF, the PDF is printed and the lock/security is removed.

 

Wondering if there is someway of stopping this?

 

Thank you,

Tim

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General troubleshooting, PDF forms

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Adobe Employee , Feb 18, 2021 Feb 18, 2021
This is a big problem. Just so everyone understands what is going on ... If you print from any Adobe Acrobat on Windows to the Adobe PDF PostScript printer driver instance to “refry” a PDF file, hoping to remove security, you find that the “print job” will fail. Why? First of all, Acrobat generates its own PostScript to maintain some level of quality (i.e., CMYK versus RGB and other features not available via normal Windows GDI or XPS-based drivers). But secondly, that Acrobat-generated Post...

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Adobe Employee ,
Feb 18, 2021 Feb 18, 2021

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This is a big problem.

 

Just so everyone understands what is going on ...

 

If you print from any Adobe Acrobat on Windows to the Adobe PDF PostScript printer driver instance to “refry” a PDF file, hoping to remove security, you find that the “print job” will fail. Why? First of all, Acrobat generates its own PostScript to maintain some level of quality (i.e., CMYK versus RGB and other features not available via normal Windows GDI or XPS-based drivers). But secondly, that Acrobat-generated PostScript contains special code that although ignored by real print devices, triggers Distiller to terminate without creating a new PDF file.

 

When one prints from Acrobat (or for that matter Reader) to the Microsoft Print to PDF, Acrobat (or Reader) has no way of knowing what the target of the output is. PostScript isn't generated, but rather GDI which is translated to XPS which Microsoft Print to PDF converts to an RGB-only (somewhat degraded) PDF without any security. A similar situation occurs when printing PDF files to other third party “PDF printers” whether from Adobe Acrobat or third party viewers.

 

The only way you can prevent such back door removal of PDF security is by setting the security to not allow printing at all … and that assumes that non-Adobe PDF readers obey any of the optional security features (such as printing, modifying, etc.) at all beyond encryption security in which a password is required to even open the document; regrettably, many don't!

 

- Dov Isaacs, Principal Scientist, Adobe

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