Security Risks Associated With PDFs and How To Protect Them

Every organization that has something or the other to do with documents surely uses PDFs. These offer document integrity and universal compatibility. On the face of it, a PDF is such a harmless piece of document, but, you will be surprised to know that PDFs are one of the ways threat actors carry cyberattacks.

In this post, we’ll try and delve into some of the security risks associated with PDFs and the protective measures you can take to avoid PDF vulnerabilities.

How Can PDFs Be Vulnerable?

There are multiple ways in which malicious users can exploit PDF documents and carry out cyber attacks. Here are some of the common tactics by which threat actors can exploit PDFs –

– Embedded Viruses and Malware

PDFs downloaded from untrusted sources can carry embedded viruses or malware. Furthermore, the PDF may contain a seemingly harmless image or link. When you open the file there could be a hidden script that might download malware on your computer and exploit applications on your system. Not just images or links, threat actors can also embed malicious attachments such as Word files.

– PDFs With Confidential/ Sensitive Information Reaching Wrong People

PDFs not protected by passwords have a heightened risk of reaching unauthorized individuals. For example, let’s say, you drafted a business plan that consists of covert business strategies, sensitive client information, and other such confidential data. Since you were in a rush to meet deadlines, you mistyped the email address and the draft reached an unauthorized recipient. Incidents like these can lead to corporate espionage, data breaches, and unauthorized disclosure.

– PDFs Can Be Used To Carry Phishing Attacks

email received

PDFs are one of the ways phishing attacks are carried out. In a phishing attack, attackers may create seemingly legitimate PDF attachments that may mimic documents such as bank statements, invoices, or other urgent messages. The PDF can include an embedded form or link that may ask you to enter sensitive information like personal details or login credentials.

Best PDF Security Tips

– Protect Your PC With Antivirus

systweak antivirus

Antivirus software adds an extra protective shield and catches any malware or malicious threats before they cause any harm to your PC. Here we have enlisted some of the best antivirus that can help you identify and remove malware. Use one of the antivirus before the malware make their way inside your computer and cause harm to your system or to the data that resides within it.

– Password Protect PDF Documents

Wherever possible, encrypt PDFs using a password. It adds an extra layer of security and allows you to control the access of the PDF. This means only those who have the password will be able to open and view the contents of the document. Most PDF managers and editors these days allow you to easily password-protect PDF documents. Advanced PDF Manager, for instance, is one the easiest tools that can let you password-protect PDFs with utmost ease.

Here is how you can use Advanced PDF Manager to password-protect PDFs –

Step 1 – Download, install, and run Advanced PDF Manager.

Step 2 – Click on Protect PDF.

protect pdf

Step 3 – Click on the Protect option signified by the padlock icon.

advanced pdf manager

Step 4 – Enter a password and click on the Protect button. It is advisable that you choose a strong password for added security.

pdf protected

– Keep PDF Reader Updated

check for update

Your PDF Reader is just like any other software. It is important that you fetch regular updates. And, it is not just about your PDF reader, it is also important that you keep your operating system updated.

– Avoid Falling Victim To Phishing Attacks Carried Out Through PDFs

There are various measures that you can undertake and save yourself, your colleagues, or others from falling prey to phishing attacks. We have already discussed some of these in this post. To begin with, you can start by verifying the legitimacy of the sender by, for instance, contacting them if you suspect the PDF. Next, you can enable security features on your PDF reader and pay heed to warning prompts that you may receive while downloading an attachment.

Time To Up Your Defenses Against PDF Security Threats

Now that you are aware of the various PDF vulnerabilities, and the various protective measures that you can take to defend yourself, it’s time to elevate your productivity game. Embrace the benefits of PDFs without compromising security. Explore features like annotations, bookmarks, and document collaboration to streamline your workflow.

Found value in this post, do give us a shoutout in the comments section below. For more such content, keep reading WeTheGeek.

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