Compromised document security is a growing problem throughout the Internet. The virtual world can create real-world problems including identity theft and forgery. Corruption of these documents can lead to the release of sensitive information or misinformation that can cause legal troubles for the entity responsible for the document. Because documents are so easy to compromise over the Internet, consumer confidence has fallen in regards to electronic communications.

With the widespread availability of PDF (portable document file), these files become vulnerable to corruption. This is a serious concern, especially for businesses transmitting financial information or public officials exchanging legislative texts. To solve this problem, Adobe has developed a new security system that strives to enhance consumer confidence and reduce liability issues. Certified Document Services (CDS) is a digital signature tool that secures PDFs so that the author can transmit it to one recipient without the fear of alteration or unauthorized view. This certificate is characterized by a blue information bar at the top of the file that provides a brief summary of the certification status.

CDS ensures that the recipient of a document can trust the author of a PDF. CDS requires a digital signature that shows the recipient the origin of the document, and it also shows whether the document has been altered. Without this technology in place, the recipient would only be able to rely on the author’s word that the document is accurate. Because PDFs can often be found in search engines, unsecured PDFs can be altered by anyone who knows enough about Adobe Acrobat. This can lead to falsification of information or the spread of classified information.

The first step in ensuring document security is converting that document to PDF format, if it isn’t already a PDF file. In the PDF, you can edit the security settings for your own purposes – you can lock it entirely, or you can set the PDF to flag any changes that are made to that document. Once the security settings are in place, you can distribute it to only the entities meant to see that document. The certified document will require an e-signature from the recipient to ensure that it is in the right hands.

One success story that Adobe reports is that of Pennsylvania State University, which suffered a rash of transcript falsification by advanced users who were able to embed watermarks and other security implements into counterfeited transcripts. With their prestigious status at stake, the university needed a way to legitimize their electronically-transmitted diplomas to maintain trust in their degrees. Without CDS, the university would have been unable to provide electronic transcript services, and they would have been required to revert to their traditional paper system. The paper transcript system consumed time, money, and manpower – with CDS in place, they were able to more efficiently manage student services and still turn out trusted documents.

To obtain CDS for your own organization, contact Adobe directly and consult with one of their partners to purchase CDS credentials. With CDS security measures in place, your organization can ensure that PDFs will remain secure and unaltered.

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