Why Standalone Document Security Viewers Are Better than Plug-ins?

Your company’s PDF documents, such as eLearning modules, eBooks, company policies, and client contracts, are probably safeguarded with the help of a Digital Rights Management (DRM) solution. This is because such information is highly confidential and your business cannot allow the data to be accessed by unauthorized users. This is where a number of plug-ins help to add DRM functionality to your PDF files on the end users’ devices, including laptops, desktop PCs, and tablets.

However, you would do well to note that plugins may face several implementation problems and are less effective than standalone PDF document security viewers when it comes to PDF security.

Plug-ins only prove useful for PDF security if they are well designed, as they can be delivered seamlessly through the user’s browser by gaining direct access (authority) to the browser’s functionality. The fact that plug-in implementation on browsers can happen without the users even noticing their presence ensures that user authentication is carried out secretly.  However, plugins can alter security settings, can malfunction due to compatibility with other plugins or latest browser updates, and other software can be downloaded without the user even being aware of it.

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The fact that plug-in implementation on browsers can happen without the users even noticing their presence ensures that user authentication is carried out secretly.  However, plugins can alter security settings, can malfunction due to compatibility with other plugins or latest browser updates, and other software can be downloaded without the user even being aware of it.

When compared to document security software, plug-ins still require administrator permissions for initial installation. However, unlike document security viewers, plug-ins create a potential gateway for other malware or apps to enter, thereby increasing the security threat for the app into which they are plugged into. In fact, malware can even enter the end user’s computer by some manipulation of the plug-ins.

It is also possible for hackers to study a plug-in to understand how and where it acts on data. On this basis, hackers can possibly design another plug-in to catch the same data being processed. This is not possible with standalone document security viewers.

Also, the authorized users of your PDF document may experience some downtime in accessing the secure content when using plugins which may not be compatible with the old browser versions prevalent on certain platforms (as there are different versions of browsers operating on different platforms at the same time). On the other hand, a stand-alone PDF file security app enables the licensed usage of secure PDF documents with the latest version being used at all times by your authorized users.

There is also a case for multiple plug-ins being in operation for a browser at the same time, which can result in conflicts when they access the same data or resources. Such problems of conflicts can give rise to operational problems for the plug-ins, which may not be good for PDF document security.

Standalone document security viewers ensure PDF security and copy protection while maintaining transparency to your document users. You can have installed viewers which allow offline document access on any computing machine or have zero installation viewers that can be run from browsers or a USB stick for protected documents. With the latter group, there is no threat of plug-in failures or conflicts which would result in any PDF security compromises.

Also, the viewers are not required to be updated frequently for them to remain operational on all browsers or machines. JavaScript is not allowed to run on any of the installed viewers, thereby getting rid of any malicious attack threats which are common for JavaScript running apps or plug-ins.

Clearly, standalone PDF security viewers are much better for document security than plug-ins. What is your opinion about the comparison between plug-ins and stand-alone document security viewers for PDF security? Let us know your thoughts below.