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Several Suggestions for Copy Protecting PDF Files. Good. Better. Best.

When considering PDF copy protectionthere are several options out there. This article will summarize some of those options to help a content owner (you) navigate to the best solution for your situation. A couple of definitions we should review before moving along to the reviews:

  • Encryption is not the same as copy protection. Encryption is the technology where a password is used to protect the PDF file. Once the password is entered the user can do anything they wish with the file. The idea behind encryption is a document being protected and un-viewable or usable until a password is entered.
  • Copy protection goes about things a different way. Copy protection will allow anyone to see the file, without a password, yet the PDF document is still protected. Meaning, the file cannot be copied, printed, shared or screen captured even though everyone can view the file. When people are searching for PDF copy protection, this is the solution most likely sought after.

PDF or Portable Document Format is an open standard. What this means is the document format was designed to be used so when a file is created the fonts, images and other components which make up the document are universal to any viewer. For example, if a specific font was used, the user would not need that font installed on their computer for it to display properly. The goal for the PDF specification was to make the format as universal as possible. For this reason, it is a bit more difficult to copy protect a PDF file than one would think.

Windows comes pre-installed with Adobe Reader. Even if Adobe Reader was not installed on your computer, or uninstalled, the underlying code is still there to open a PDF as the Windows operating system includes Adobe API code which it can call upon and use to open a document. Adobe Reader is the #1 PDF reader in the market but there are also dozens of other PDF readers you can find on the web. The ultimate goal of course, is for any of these readers to open the PDF and displayed as intended by the content owner (you).

Adobe copy protection – Good

Adobe offers a host of security features and functions to their PDF documents, unfortunately it is very well known for Adobe solutions to be cracked. If you Google “Adobe copy protection crack” you will find pages of ways the Adobe security features are compromised. Here and here are two examples of search results giving hackers a solution to crack the Adobe protection schemes.

Adobe is a good solution if you need something quick, inexpensive and the overall concern of security is not paramount. If you are a content owner who needs a strong “deterrent” from the file being copied, Adobe is a good starting point.

The fundamental problem with copy protection are the lack of controls a content owner has for when a user is viewing the PDF. Said another way, a content owner (you) does not have the control over how Adobe Reader blocks the user from doing certain functions like print, save, share and screen capture.

The idea behind a PDF copy protection solution is a framework where the PDF can be opened and viewed, while you (the content owner) maintains complete control of the document.

With the above in mind, it is difficult to provide a PDF reader with these security functions. Most users who receive a PDF do not want to download and install a second program just to read a PDF file. However, if you are open to that idea the next best solution is Lock Lizard

Lock Lizard is a better solution

Lock Lizard provides a process to set DRM (Digital Rights Management) to the PDF as a content owner and provides a reader program to view the PDF with those same security features intact. This is a good alternative to Adobe, but requires some additional work by the user.

The user is required to install the Lock Lizard viewer program. Typically this isn’t a big deal, but does pose as a problem for those who work in a corporate environment. Most corporations do not give employees Administrator rights to install programs. The bottom line is an IT manager would be required to intervene and perform the software installation. So the Portable Document Format is no longer as portable!

Copy Secure by Nexcopy is best solution

The Copy Secure solution by Nexcopy is a USB flash drive which is a physical device that provides PDF copy protection without the requirement of installing a program. Truth be told, the solution is a copy protected device, not a copy protected file. We can say this because the physical device is the digital key to controlling the PDF file and how it is viewed.

True the USB drive must be shipped to the customer, but in exchange you (the content owner) will have the most secure solution for you PDF document. In addition, the Copy Secure drive comes pre-loaded with PDF readers for both Mac and Windows computers. The pre-loaded reader runs 100% from the flash drive and does not require Admin rights to install it or run it. The Portable Document Format is restored to all its glory!

The secure PDF reader on the Copy Secure drive is coded and locked to the device itself. So even if a hacker downloads the viewer application which runs directly from the flash drive (no installation required) they still won’t have the tools needed to unlock the PDF and control it. The USB is also write protected so the user cannot delete or format the USB stick and remove the PDF file. The document is permanently on the flash drive. With the other two solutions, Adobe and Lock Lizard, it is very possible the PDF is deleted and thus requires post-sales follow up by you, the content owner.

PDF copy protection

The viewer blocks any attempt to print, either to PDF or to a physical printer. Copy Secure does not allow for saving, screen capture or sharing of any kind. With the Nexcopy solution, the PDF follows the USB drive and may be accessed from any computer. No need to download a PDF viewer for each operating system, simply insert the Copy Secure USB drive and access the file.

block screen grab of PDF

Copy Secure has additional digital rights management features. For example, the content owner can assign an expiration date to viewing of the file. This restricts the user (maybe your client or customer or student) from accessing the PDF after a specific date. The password feature, so familiar with encryption can also be used with the Nexcopy PDF copy protection. Now there are two layers of protection for the content owner! First, the user must enter the correct password before the PDF is displayed. Second, once the PDF is displayed the file is still copy protected. Even the most trusted user cannot print, save or screen capture the PDF.

In conclusion: The word of copy protection provides a host of different solutions for protect a PDF file. Which solution best fits your needs will depend on your situation. The Adobe solution is the least expensive and easy to use. The Lock Lizard solution is a bit more expensive and based of a licensing program with recurring fees. The Copy Secure solution by Nexcopy is less than Lock Lizard and provides the most secure method for copy protecting PDF files.

How To: Share Sensitive Files with a Third Party

You need to share a document, video or audio file with a third party, but the files are filled with sensitive information. What options should you consider?

Three possibilities come to mind: email, Dropbox or flash drive.

Sending an email is the same thing as sending a postcard through US Mail. Email remains wide open when it comes to security or lack there of. This is true and scary; anyone who wants to read your email (not just the NSA) can read your email.

Most times you can send sensitive documents through email and nothing will happen – roll of the dice really. However; you are playing Russian roulette (almost literally, given a recent theft of 1.2 billion email account credentials by a Russian gang). Remember, the topic of this post is about sharing sensitive data with a third party.

The next option would encrypting the email attached in the email. Encryption is a great option and certainly more secure than sending the email without encryption. You could run into a file size limitation though. Most videos will be larger than a 20MB, which is (generally) the maximum file size one could attached in an email. Encryption is a good next step, but there is a bigger issue at hand than file size. More about that in a few.

Dropbox is the next option on our list for how to share sensitive data with a third party. Dropbox is a great option when you have larger files. With Dropbox you could upload those big audio or video files and provide a download link for your recipient. Dropbox doesn’t encrypt your data by default so there is some exposure there. A quick and relatively safe method to encrypt your files using Windows would be compressing the video into a zip file and assigning it a password. Encrypting the data will provide that extra layer of security. As with an encrypted email, the encrypted Dropbox alternative also has a major flaw.

Ask yourself, “Do you trust the person receiving the document?”

If you cannot answer that question with absolute certainty, then sending sensitive documents to a third party using encryption is not the most secure method. It is important to understand, with encryption the files are secure while in transit from the sender to the recipient, but once the recipient puts in the password to decrypt the file, they can do anything they want with it. When the password decrypts the file, all the security goes away. When dealing with legal matters and sharing sensitive data with third parties, a major criteria will be to insure the file cannot be changed, manipulated or put into the wrong hands. With that in mind, copy protection is the better alternative for sharing sensitive data.

It is important to understand the difference between encryption and copy protection. Both technologies use encryption to protect the file, the big difference is trust of the user for the protected file. With encryption the only security feature is the password. Encryption is great for protecting files when the user is in your circle of trust. Think of your computer back-up files stored on a USB flash drive and that drive is dropped in a parking lot by mistake. Anyone who found the drive could not view the data because the data is encrypted with a password. They could not see your back-up files unless the correct password was entered.

Let us change the scenario just a little.

In this scenario, sensitive files are to be shared with a third party whom you don’t necessarily trust. It is important the files have a password to insure only the intended recipient can view the files and in addition, you need security to make sure the recipient cannot save the files, print the files, stream, share, upload or export the files. By changing the situation to this scenario one can see the value with copy protection is greater than the value of encryption. As with copy protection, the file can only be viewed, nothing else can be done with the file.

The last option from our original list is the USB flash drive.

As with email and Dropbox, one could encrypt the files and place them on a flash drive and send to the third party. But as we just discussed and highlighted, encryption is not the best solution for this situation. A Copy Secure flash drive which provides USB copy protection is the best alternative for this situation. The Copy Secure flash drive is manufactured by Nexcopy and carries a variety of features specifically designed for sharing files with “not so trusted” recipients.

USB copy protection

Copy Secure flash drives offer copy protection on USB sticks

The Copy Secure flash drive is write protected after the data is put on the drive. This means the flash drive is read-only. It is impossible to format the drive, delete the files on the drive or manipulate the files on the drive. The write protection feature is done at the hardware controller level, it is not a software solution, which means the most secure method for locking the device. The files on the drive are encrypted. A viewer application runs from the flash drive for either a Windows computer or Mac computer which displays the files. The viewer application is very secure and blocks the ability to save the file, print the file, screen capture, stream or export the files. Continue reading

How To Tips: Transition from CD Services to USB Duplication Services

USB drives are in high demand because the optical drive is no longer sold with computers. Supplementary tools and equipment such as USB flash drive duplicators are additionally increasing in popularity. USB duplicators come with an array of features, they are practical options for quick, accurate flash drive duplication. This article will expand on these ideas to better inform you of what equipment is out there, and which features are most helpful.

A USB duplicator machines are an innovative tool that make it easy to replicate information from a master USB flash drive to blank flash drives (or simply USB drives), called targets. The duplication equipment is specifically design for use of binary replication from one master to many targets. One of the most valuable features is asynchronous duplication where all target USB flash drives are copied at any time which they become available to the duplicator. Meaning, the binary copy process will begin the moment a USB drive is connected, and as more USB targets are connected the binary copy process starts independent of the devices connected. The goal is for each USB port of the USB duplicator to have maximum efficiency. However; some could find this confusing and synchronous duplication is also available. Synchronous duplication means the binary copy process is not started until all USB target drives are connected and the user presses a button to begin the binary copy process. The asynchronous USB duplication method is the single most efficient and beneficial feature of the copier equipment.

The USB duplicator by Nexcopy is a crucial digital gadget for production of USB flash drives which hold information. This type of equipment has ended up being the norm when transferring data from one master device to other target devices. Versatile and easy to use, the USB duplicator has become preferred method for saving and moving essential records from a primary location to a secondary location or group of secondary devices. Likewise, the USB duplicator has become the essential tool for distributing promotional information materials on give-away promotion items like trade show flash drives. USB’s are the preferred method for the high tech world to transfer data from one point to another.

The USB drive, also called thumb drive, consists of flash NAND memory integrated with a printed circuit board or PCB and a controller chip that controls the flow of data transmission. Using a USB (Universal Serial Bus) port, the thumb drive may be connected to a computer system, or any other digital device with USB ports, such as today’s HD LCD Televisions, car stereos and hand held portable devices. USB drives are well suited to store data as well as exchange data, as the preferred medium for data distribution over optical drives. Flash drives are naturally a portable device because of their small size and durable case and comes with the added benefit of being rewritable. The USB flash drive is rewritable and will not deteriorate or drop in durability which is a significant advantage over competing mediums like floppy disks (if you can still get them) or CD and DVD discs. Flash drives operate very quickly and have great access and seek times which searching for specific files or data on them. This is another significant advantage the USB thumb drive has over optical media. In addition to all these great benefits, the USB flash drive comes in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Making them more customizable to your branding requirements then a standard size CD or DVD disc. The only way to personalize or brand an optical disc is printing on the top surface.

Given that USB drives are so prevalent, it is not shocking to see USB duplicator systems with a wide variety of features and functions to address every type of need a user might have. There is not one USB duplicator system that is perfect for everyone. Both PC based duplicators and standalone duplicators have their advantages. These USB copiers make use of current USB technology to maximize speed and reliability, including raised data transfer rates with USB 3.1 and USB copy protection attributes to safeguard content put onto the USB flash drive. When it concerns data distribution to flash memory, the USB duplicator is an invaluable asset. Nexcopy USB duplicator machines are one of the most reliable and dependable methods of copying binary data to USB thumb drives.

USB duplicators include copy and verify functions that can be done in one simple step, this is why they are gaining popularity in the business sector. Standalone USB copiers can transfer data as quickly as 33MB per second. This ultra-fast copy speed significantly cuts down manufacturing times when comparing production times with their counter part such as CD-R and DVD-R optical media. Nexcopy USB duplicators can be found in 4, 15, 20, 40 and 60 target systems.

Today’s USB duplicators are easy to use and friendly to operate. Standalone units generally include an LCD screen, a front control board and little keypad to make the USB duplicator technology as easy-as-possible to operate. Another version of US duplicator would be a PC based system where a host computer runs software that controls the binary copy process. The PC based duplicators can copy data to all different digital capacities of flash drives, which is important to understand when dealing with a collection of different GB sized flash drives. The standalone USB duplicators do not care about USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 flash drives because the USB copiers will simply copy as quickly as the device memory will allow. There are no barrier speeds with standalone duplicators. With PC based USB duplicators you can copy to USB 1.0 and USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 flash drives will full support of the USB specification. Both systems, standalone and PC based, offer the copy and compare function to produce the most accurate copies possible. The biggest advantage with PC based USB duplicators would be with the advanced functions a flash drive offers, such as making the USB read-only or also said another way, write protected. Write protection a USB flash drive means the data cannot be deleted or formatted off the drive. The data is permanently on the USB stick, muck like a CD or DVD disc.

Other features which come with these USB duplicators would include ways to test or benchmark the USB flash drive. Meaning, there are features to test the read and write speed of a device. Having this capability means the user can check the quality of product before the product is put into use for production or mass USB duplication. One other feature which many corporate IT managers like to know is the ability to erase the data on a flash drive. These USB duplicator systems come with features to erase data on the flash drive. Meaning, the USB will be written with random binary code to all the memory so that no data could be recovered. Even the most sophisticated data recovery tools could not restore lost data after a USB erase cycle by a Nexcopy USB duplicator.

USB duplicators are really beneficial both in the business world and the educational sector. The duplicators make it easy for data to circulate to others through the flash drive device. These USB copiers may be purchased through online e-tailers such as Amazon and Wal-Mart. Learn more about USB duplicators here.

Source: GetUSB.info

New Mini Size USB Duplicator from Nexcopy

Lake Forest, CA – November 20, 2019 – Nexcopy Inc., a leading manufacturer and developer of flash memory duplicators, introduces the USB104SA, a 4 target standalone USB Duplicator specifically design to be light weight and portable.

“With the lack of optical drives in computers and laptop, the USB stick continues to grow in popularity,” reports Greg Morris, President of Nexcopy. “What we have seen is a demand for both small configuration systems for those transitioning from optical media to USB media and large production systems which we’ve serviced for years. The USB104SA is a great stepping stone for those coming from the optical duplication industry.”

The USB104SA USB Duplicator has a list of features which pivot from the larger, award winning, Nexcopy standalone duplicators. Features include:

  • Asynchronous copy mode, all the time
  • Binary copier will copy any format; FAT, FAT32, exFAT, NTFS, HFS, Ext2,3,4, Proprietary
  • Binary CRC verification algorithm
  • Quick Erase and Ful Erase for disk sanitization
  • Four language modes in LCD menu
  • USB speed benchmark utility
  • Firmware upgradeable

Stan McCrosky, head of Sales, comments, “What we have seen, are small organizations and business requesting something low cost and low volume for data duplication. Our main focus is still business-to-business, but the growing demand for low volume duplication equipment justified the development of a product like the USB104SA.”

The USB104SA is a portable solution and ideal for trade shows or spoken word events. The unit weighs less than one pound and with a foot print of about six inches by one inch tall. The unit can easily fit into your computer bag, which is ideal for carry-on luggage at the airport.

The USB duplicator is powered by a microUSB cable which can be connected to your computer laptop USB port. A USB block is also provided for powering from an outlet.

“What I like about this unit is the feature rich firmware. We did not compromise on the firmware settings and offer less. We offer the same functionality as our larger standalone USB duplicator models.” Morris continues,
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