Keeping forms and their data secure

by Brad Selbst, Sales Director

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For many people, forms are simply a part of everyday business. Requisitions come, contracts get signed, applications get filled out, end of story. But for those of us who create those forms and rely on collecting the information they contain after being submitted, forms are a way of our business lives. We see them for what they really are—storehouses of information that need to be created, maintained, distributed, and protected like any other valuable business asset.

One of the realities of using digital forms in today’s business world is that, like all other digital assets, if not properly secured, they can be manipulated, altered and even stolen. Departments and employees may edit them to suit their desires. They may make impractical, and even illegal, changes that put the company at risk, or edit form content, leading to breaches in security.

According to “Chain of Custody and its Critical Role in Authenticating Electronic Evidence,” as written by QDiscovery, any electronically stored information (ESI) must be authenticated to be admissible and useable in court.

“Chain of custody shows where the evidence has been, who has touched it and its condition at all times. It tracks a device or file through the full evidence lifecycle of collection, transfer, handling, storage, analysis, review and production. The norm is to demonstrate that there has been no alteration of the evidence.”

Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to ensure the sanctity of your PDF forms.

Foxit ConnectedPDF (cPDF) forms can satisfy secure forms requirements

With Foxit PhantomPDF, Reader, and MobilePDF for Android and iOS, you can use the Protect Document tool in the ConnectedPDF panel in the navigation pane to protect a ConnectedPDF document, including a form. This protects PDF files in real time without any complicated operation and deployment.

cPDF allows each PDF form to carry an identity assigned by the ConnectedPDF cloud service, and tracks all the events on the PDF, such as recipients opening the file, modifying it, printing it, signing it, and more. So, no matter where your ConnectedPDF form goes, how many times it’s redistributed, or how many modifications are done to it, you can always track it in real time.

To enable users to complete data input in your cPDF form, you simply allow them to do so using features for filling in forms and signing signature fields.

Flatten PDF forms so they can’t be altered

Once you receive the completed cPDF form and extract any data you need, you can use an extra measure of security to uphold data integrity.

All PDF forms contain two layers—the form data layer, where all the fields and information you’ve used in the structure of your form exists, and the document layer, where users input their data into the fields you’ve created.

Simply “flatten” your form, which merges the two layers into one. This makes all text, images and shapes static on both layers so that they can’t be easily changed. Your PDF form will still look the same, but users can no longer alter data in the PDF form fields.

When it comes to forms and the data they contain, the importance of preserving them and protecting them can’t be overstated. With some simple steps in your workflow and by using ConnectedPDF and PDF in general, you can ensure that your forms are usable, protected and secure.


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