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Email Encryption

How to Protect Intellectual Property With a PDF Watermark

August 3, 2016

Standard PDF watermarks can be used to signify ownership, caution users against disclosure, certify document reviews and revisions and provide an easy way to brand company materials for external use. By clicking Tools > Edit PDF > Watermark > Add in Adobe Acrobat, you can put a watermark on a PDF, and configure size, orientation and other display features.

Virtru Pro PDF Watermarking protects intellectual property in a different way: by preventing leaks. When a Virtru Pro user enables encryption and selects “PDF Watermarking” before sending a message, Virtru automatically watermarks the attached PDF with the recipient’s email address (with multiple recipients, each one receives a PDF marked with their own address).

The PDF can only be opened in Virtru’s Secure Reader (not downloaded). And if your recipient decides to forward on (if you haven’t disabled forwarding), their recipients will not have the option to forward.

Standard PDF Watermarks Legally Protect Ownership

A PDF watermark is a good, basic step to protect intellectual property. Although the Berne Convention does not technically require a copyright notice, making it clear that you own manuscripts, manufacturing plans and other IP — even if it’s still under development — makes it easier to defend your rights.

PDF watermarks can also reinforce internal data security rules — for example, with a “confidential – do not share” message on sensitive documents. And with multiple drafts or versions of a PDF floating around, they can provide an extra check to stop the wrong one from being released or sent to a client.

Standard PDF Watermarks Don’t Stop Piracy or Leaks

In spite of extensive efforts to protect intellectual property, it’s very hard to stop someone from sharing a copy of a file.  IP Piracy costs the US economy $60 billion per year, and counterfeiting is even more costly ($250 billion).

In countries like China, state and corporate hackers routinely break the rules to acquire trade secrets. Lax intellectual property protections allow businesses to legally manufacture proprietary products like medicines and electronics without paying licensing, costing American business an estimated $320 million annually, along with millions of jobs.

A standard PDF watermark won’t prevent the sharing of copyrighted media or the theft and illegal use of trade secrets. And, while monitoring employees mitigates insider threats in cyber security, it can’t always prevent a careless (or malicious) employee from exposing a file. All it takes is one stolen smart phone, or one unencrypted email intercepted by a hacker, and you’ve lost control of that IP forever.

Source Tracking Watermarks Prevent Leaks

You can’t protect intellectual property in the wild, but you can prevent it from being leaked in the first place. PDF Watermarking from Virtru controls file access and identifies the recipient, ensuring insiders will think twice before compromising sensitive internal data.

The intellectual property protection begins with Virtru’s data-centric encryption, which prevents hacker from intercepting PDFs shared over email. Read receipts records when the recipient accesses the file and who (if anyone) they forward it to, and the PDF watermark holds the recipient accountable. Additionally, Virtru’s encryption key management allows you to revoke access at any time, or set a time limit on access. And because the recipient can’t download the file, they can’t remove it from the system’s oversight.

Protect Intellectual Property with a Secure Cloud

A PDF watermark protects the attachment, but can’t stop a hacker from stealing the original file, if it’s kept in a poorly secured cloud. For data to be safe anywhere, it needs to be safe everywhere. Learn how to protect intellectual property with these resources:

Author Virtru

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