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How to certify a PDF so that it remains compliant with PDF/A-3u?

Explorer ,
Nov 28, 2018 Nov 28, 2018

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We are using Acrobat Pro DC's preflight feature to convert PDFs to comply with the PDF/A-3u standard. Our next step is to use Acrobat Pro DC to digitally certify the same PDF. Once that is done, Acrobat Pro DC reports that the file no-longer complies with the PDF/A-3u standard.

Here is a screen cap of the preflight indicating the issue.

post-signature-pre-flight.png

Is there a way to certify PDF/A-3u files that doesn't break conformance with the standard?

I asked this same question in the PDF standards forum here. The conclusion was that Acrobat Pro DC is breaking the PDF/A-3u standard when it signs the file. Any suggestions as to how we can overcome this issue or is it simply a bug in Acrobat Pro?

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Security digital signatures and esignatures

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Adobe Employee ,
Nov 29, 2018 Nov 29, 2018

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Hi dmkerr,

As per the issue description mentioned above, you are facing issue when trying to convert PDFs to PDF/A-3u standard, is that correct?

I tried replicating the issue on Windows 10 machine with Acrobat DC latest version 19.008.20081 and the issue was not reproducible.

Please find attached the screenshots for the same.

You may try with another pdf file to check if this behavior continues. Also, check if an update is available for Acrobat using check for updates option under Help menu. You may also download the updates from here: Adobe software and product updates

Let us know if you need any help.

Shivam

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Explorer ,
Dec 10, 2018 Dec 10, 2018

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Hi Shivam,

Thanks for taking the time to reply to my question. We are able to convert to PDF/A-3u successfully but after certifying the PDF using Acrobat Pro DC, it is no longer compliant with the standard. So, the issue is with the certifying process, rather than with the conversion to the standard.

After speaking with Adobe support, we were able to prove that Acrobat can apply a document signature to the PDF without breaking the standard but not a Modification Detection and Prevention (MDP) signature/certificate. When applying our digital signature in that way, Acrobat is adding a DigestLocation, DigestMethod, and DigestValue to the signature references dictionary. That's not permitted by the PDF/A-3u standard. Do you know of a way to prevent Acrobat from doing that?

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Adobe Employee ,
Jan 10, 2019 Jan 10, 2019

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Sorry to say but there is not much can be done about it as this behavior is as designed.

-Shivam

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Explorer ,
Jan 10, 2019 Jan 10, 2019

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Hi Shivam,

Thanks for confirming that. It seems quite odd to me that applying an MDP signature/certificate with Acrobat would break the PDF/A-3u archival standard in this way. Surely we're not the only users who see certification and archival standards as two parts of the larger goal of long-term preservation. A key aspect of which must be authenticity.

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Adobe Employee ,
Jan 11, 2019 Jan 11, 2019

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Hi dmkerr,

You may share your feedback to the team using the following link: Feature Request/Bug Report Form

-Shivam

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Explorer ,
Jan 11, 2019 Jan 11, 2019

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Thanks, Shivam.

I've shared feedback on the bug report form. Here is the link in case others come across this issue and want to up-vote it: Modification Detection and Prevention Certificate Application Breaks PDFA/3-u Standard – Share your ...

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