You would not leave your home without locking the door behind you and likewise you would protect your car when parked, so why do we quite happily leave documents open for anyone to see, print, alter or otherwise manipulate?

We see more and more people turning to the PDF format as a means of producing documentation that can be distributed in both email and accessed from websites, but too often these are still malleable and unsecured. This gross disregard for corporate ownership of intellectual property could cost your company dearly, and might even jeopardise its future success, but the fact remains that for all the information and attention to system security, our data is still at risk.

There are ways to ensure data integrity and to choose who and what authorised personnel can and cannot do with official documents. It is relatively inexpensive too, and extremely easy to use, so why take the risk of losing it? KeySec manufacture a very interesting and secure method of data exchange that involves the use of Adobe PDF documentation. It allows the creator to decide what permissions are to be deployed to individuals reading the data sent to them and what level of manipulation, if any, they are afforded.

A PDF document secured by the use of KeySec, once created, may have several levels to which ownership is granted. For instance, a user with the SmartKey is the creator and as such will have the master Key, used to create the secured document – they are identified by a unique serial number and can alter the document as and when he sees fit. On another level, SmartKey authorised users can also have rights designated by the creator if the IDCODE is the same, while non-key owners will be unable to open, print or change the protected document, unless the document is subsequently freed from all protection.

Installation is accomplished with ease, you simply use the supplied CD to install the software, registering the hardware and its security as your own, which then allows you to manipulate the documents to ensure only those authorised to view, print or change them are at liberty to do so. In order to do this, you need to get an activation key from KeySec, which can be done via the internet or by fax, so that your Smartkey can be given a unique code to allow it to be used.

The actual key itself is a dongle and simply connects to your PCs USB connection; it works on Windows 98, Me, 2000 and XP. KeySec also relies on the end-user having a copy of Adobe Acrobat version 5 and it then acts as a plug-in to secure all subsequent documents that you wish to create.

You can even ensure that although a document can be read by the intended parties, copying and pasting are not an option, giving you much greater control over your intellectual property. To activate the dongle and get the unique Master key code, internet access is required and further Smartkeys with the same IDCODE as the Master, depending on who is to have access, whether limited to certain tasks or not.

To protect a PDF, the originator simply selects the document to be protected, names and password-protects it, sets the level of protection required for their specific needs, and then distributes the keys and document to the selected recipients. By internet connection, the Master Key holder then sets the expiration date and password for each relevant key. This needs to be the same as the Master Key password selected when naming and protecting the individual PDF. Once the document and keys have been distributed, the originator can then send the recipients the information required, by batch if necessary, to enable the document to be accessed – this is the label.

Because a protected document has an expiration date, you can ensure that after a given time the only way to open it is with the original Smartkey. This gives added protection for important documentation that could otherwise be left hanging around well after you are finished with it.

This seems to be a valid way to protect medical files and sensitive financial assumptions and design information. These are the kinds of documents where information may need to be passed to others, but once they have been reviewed, their sensitivity must still be protected.


The end-user who is given a key to enable them to activate a protected PDF only has to insert the KeySec dongle into their USB and set the label that they have been sent, this is a one-time requirement and for subsequent use this will not be necessary. They will then log on to the internet for activation (again a one-time requirement), which activates their Key and allows them to use it as set by the documents originator. It really is that easy to use and provides for a more secure environment for all sensitive documentation, ensuring that data is only seen, copied, pasted, printed, edited or otherwise manipulated by trusted participants and that the document is always protected using encryption and is not available to unauthorised change.

Product title
Product info
Name: KeySec Description: Price: £150, KeySec Reader from £28
: Extremely easy to set up and use, distribution and end-user friendly, also allows set criteria on use and time expiration.
: Dongle has no protection for when in transit and may get damaged if attached to keyring,etc.
: Very useful security device for data protection of PDF documentation.

Get daily email updates

SC Media's daily must-read of the most current and pressing daily news

By clicking the Subscribe button below, you agree to SC Media Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.