4 ways to encrypt or password-protect a PDF for free without Acrobat
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Jul 26, 2022
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The title question can be viewed as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it may suggest that you have been sharing your personal or business files wrong the entire time. On the other hand, it may indicate that you’ve been transferring data from point A to point B reasonably well, only questioning whether you know why you’ve been doing it the way you did.
We often do things because they feel right — but feelings do not equal understanding. Such an approach will only take you so far because, in the event of a real cyber threat, you will not know how to solve the problem efficiently and effectively. You will be left in the virtual dark, operating on a trial-and-error basis.
This is just to say that maybe you should do more to protect your files. That you should know what secure file sharing actually looks like. Or maybe you already do?
So, are you good or bad at sharing files?
Welcome to cybersecurity 101. Glad you could join us. We will now ask you a series of questions and explain precisely why we’re asking them, while you think about the answers, okay? Great, let’s start.
1. Do you encrypt?
To assess your file-sharing abilities, we need to start with the basics – the files themselves. No, we don’t want to know what data you usually share. It’s likely personal or business documents, private photos, and videos you shot using your mobile phone. After all, it’s what we all share with each other, isn’t it? The thing that we want to know is whether your files are encrypted or not.
When you share something that is valuable and private, you don’t want any outsiders to be able to have access to it. Encryption is what makes files unreadable to unauthorized third parties. The way it works is it applies complex mathematical models (often called “cryptographic algorithms”) and digital keys to add cyber-layers of protection to your file. Without a key, it would take years to crack the code and see what’s inside.
If you’re already using encryption — a big thumbs up to you! If not… well, let’s keep going.
2. Do you use strong passwords?
What’s the definition of a “strong password?” A combination of letters, numbers, and symbols that is hard to identify both by humans and computers — sounds about right.
You should use passwords like that to protect every sphere of your virtual life, from your email account, your social media, to your banking applications. A strong password should also secure every file transfer you run. If you think one of your passwords is weak, go change it!
The other important thing is where you keep your passwords. If you have them in your notebook (or you made your passwords purposefully simple so that you can remember them), do yourself a favor and get a good password manager.
If you’re already using one, you’re a champ! If not, remember what Chris Pirillo once said, “Passwords are like underwear: you don’t let people see it, you should change it very often, and you shouldn’t share it with strangers.”
3. How do you share files?
This is where the elephant enters the room. When confronted about data sharing, most people tend to give the impression that they do it in a safe manner.
Many people still share their data simply by sending unencrypted files over email or via password-unprotected file transfer platforms and they think this is fine. Their stream of thought is — “this is just my email, no one has access to it. Nothing bad can happen to my files when I send them.” Too bad that’s wishful thinking.
Your files can get stolen during the transfer, your email account can get hacked, your data may end up in the hands of the platform provider, your transfer password may be compromised (if it’s even set at all). Just because it feels safe, doesn’t mean it is. Remember what we said about feelings at the start of this article.
People who take data security seriously put up defenses on the entire path the data travels while moving from point A to point B. What is it they do exactly? They use end-to-end encrypted file-sharing platforms to encrypt the files on their device, encrypt the communication channel used for file transfer, and ensure data stays encrypted until opened by the intended recipient. Solutions like these are easy to implement, easy to use and help improve your cybersecurity significantly.
If you’re already using this kind of platform, hats off! If not, please know that every time you send somebody your files, you risk their interception and nefarious use by cyber criminals.
4. Where do you keep the files you send and receive?
Suppose you run an enterprise-size company and you receive a top-secret report that reveals the financial data and business strategies of your organization. You wouldn’t put that report on display in the lobby so that anyone can read it, would you? No, you would lock it away somewhere, like in a James-Bond-style safe hidden behind an Edward Hopper reproduction hanging in your office. You would go to great lengths to keep it away from the public eye.
So, why would you store – business or personal – confidential files unencrypted on a hard drive that could get hijacked by hackers in minutes?
You wouldn’t… or you shouldn’t, depending on your answer to the fourth entry in our questionnaire.
Given that we now have clouds, virtual spaces where you can keep your digital belongings, you can find yourself encrypted cloud storage and place all the valuable files you send and receive there. Such storage incorporates the same encryption standards we already discussed in points one and two to protect your data. And the other huge plus is that files become accessible from any device anywhere in the world. This is a perfect marriage of security and convenience.
If you’re a user of an encrypted cloud storage platform, we applaud you and can’t find the word to express our admiration. If you haven’t tried one yet, it is not too late. They are cloud-based, which means you don’t need any expertise to implement and start using them. So it all depends on you and whether you see any danger in the way you manage your data.
What should your next move be?
First, what’s your score? Were your answers to our questions affirmative and positive? If so, then you are a cybersecurity master who needs no tips, hints, or clues to protect their data. You know exactly what you’re doing. You can rest easy and be sure that your data will not be stolen or used against you in any way.
Although, there is one question that you can ask yourself — does the file-sharing platform you use cover all the aspects of cybersecurity that we discussed? Maybe it is missing something important.
If any of your answers were negative or left a lot to be desired, then this is an indication that you need to take cybersecurity more seriously. Luckily for you, there’s a way you can save a lot of time, money, and energy, and address the issues covered in the article all at the same time. How so?
How NordLocker can help you
Since you’ve found this article on our blog, you should already have a basic idea of what NordLocker is. Still, the question you may be asking yourself right now is – what does an encrypted cloud storage platform like NordLocker have to do with secure file sharing? The answer is everything.
If we had designed encrypted cloud storage where you can only keep and manage your files, it would have been good enough. But knowing that today’s world runs on data and everybody shares information all the time, we’ve made it an end-to-end (E2E) encrypted file-sharing platform as well.
This means that when you create an encrypted cloud folder (we call them “lockers”) and upload a file to it, you can use NordLocker to share that particular file – or the entire locker – with someone you trust. You can do it in several ways.
Ways you can use NordLocker to share files
First, you can share your files with other NordLocker users, which will involve using public and private encryption keys to lock and unlock the contents. In basic terms, you encrypt your files using your private key and the recipient’s public key — the person to whom you send your files can decrypt them using your public key and their private key. As a result, your data remains safe as it moves from one device to the other.
Second, you can create a copy of your encrypted file or a locker and share it via a link with anyone — not only NordLocker users. The file (or the entire locker) will be protected by a securely generated link (URL) and a dedicated security code. The person to whom you send your files needs to provide the code and they will be able to open and download the content. Easy and efficient.With these options, you can be sure that your files will reach the desired recipient — and only them.
Our point with all of this is that NordLocker is a piece of software that allows you not only to store and manage files but also to share them securely with your friends, family members, work colleagues, and business partners. Available in two versions, one for personal use and the other one for business, it is a tool that, once you get it, will make you ask yourself “why wasn’t I sharing files this way before?” Don’t believe us? It has a 14-day free trial, so try it and tell us your thoughts later.
John believes that the best things in life are simple. He uses the same approach when he’s writing about online security. John says that his #1 pet peeve is phishing scams. Ironically, his favorite non-work related activity is fishing.