How To Copy Protect Files?
A commonly asked question is "how can I protect my
files?" to which nneds refining:
- copy protect files sent by email?
- copy protect files embedded or linked for download on
a web site?
- copy protect files distributed on disk or CD?
- protect access to files sent by email?
- protect access to files embedded or linked for download
on a web site?
- protect access to files distributed on disk or CD?
- protect access to files on your own computer?
There is a big difference between protecting a file by
restricting access to open a file to what there is when
copy protecting the file's contents while it is open. From
the options above you can see there are very different scenarios
and each can require special treatment. So in order of difficulty
let's look at some pros and cons.
Encryption is the basis of all file protection systems
The best way to protect anything and the mainstay of all
file protection methods is encryption. It is encryption
that keeps the file and its contents out of reach until
teh set requirements are met, whether it be the use of a
password or recognition of a key file, etc. So to protect
any type of file from being accessed is quite easy because
all you have to do is encrypt it and protect it by password.
There is a multitude of file encryption programs and any
of them will do the job for you.
File encryption is most useful because it can protect files
stored on your own computer in case you ever lose the computer
or if it's stolen. And it can protect files in transit,
sent by email or posted on disk. Since simpletons can be
quite successful selling useless apps to other simpletons,
everyone needs to be aware of some file protection solutions
that are most useless. For example, the concept of using
a hidden password for decryption of the file based on the
hard drive serial number or disk ID is not only insecure,
it can be a disaster. While it may seem like a good idea
to encrypt sensitive files stored on your own computer and
lock them to your hard drive, what happens if your computer
dies or that hard drive dies? In short, you lose everything
because any backups of those files will also be encrypted
and unless trying to open them on the same drive, you won't
So protecting files sing encryption based on hard drive
serial number is not a good idea at all because most people
can lose them forever. Well that applies to most people,
however for anyone really wanting to access those who has
some very basic programming skills, like how to use Notepad,
they can simply change their hard drive serial number or
doctor a USB stick to match the same number. So there you
have it... a totally useless idea that will cause havoc
for most computer users and not be secure to anyone who
really wants your data.
What type of file needs to be copy protected?
As already mentioned, any type of file can be encrypted
and protected from user access. In fact most encryption
programs will encrypt all types of files because it doesn't
matter much what the contents are because it's all just
data, and when decrypting all it needs to do is return the
same file extension. Copy protect file software that is
merely encrypting static files on your computer doesn't
need to be specialized so don't fall into the trap of assuming
that you need one program to encrypt files, another to encrypt
images and so on.
However if the file protection system is part of a viewer
or reader that also displays the contents of the file, then
yes, that software will need to be specialized. But for
each different file format, to display it in a viewer will
usually require support resources to interpret the file
format. For example if you take a MS Office file like Word
and encrypt it, then to display the decrypted version of
it without saving a copy to disk, it will require that the
reader be able to interpret Word file format. And so it
goes for all other file formats.
So now when asking ""how can I protect my files?"
we have more distinct scenarios. One in which it doesn't
matter what encryption is used because all it does is encrypt
and decrypt, and another scenario where the file is decrypted
and displayed in a reader by the same application. In both
of these cases we have protected the file from unauthorized
access, and that is "file protection" but it's
not "copy protection". Copy protection
pertains to the prevention of a file's content to be copied
by printing, saving, extraction, copy'n'paste, printscreen
and screen capture software. File "duplication"
can never be prevented however there are measures that can
be taken to prevent access to those duplicated files and
the process is generally known as "DRM" or digital
Copy Protecting A File Distribution
Files distributed to others can include eBooks, videos and
communication of trade and corporate secrets such as sensitive
information about accounts, investments and forthcoming releases.
Unfortunately there is no one solution for the whole of this
broad spectrum of protected file usage. Regardless of file
type there still remains the distinction between ensuring
that only the intended recipient can open the file and while
it is open, that its contents cannot be copied or reproduced.
For files distributed on disk in catalog or sample form, there
are solutions available to prevent disk copy by embedding
a secret layer in the disk recording that is supposedly invisible
to normal disk copiers. However this process has been around
for a while and there is bound to be a variety of options
for circumventing it kindly provided by the wastrels of this
world. With the stem of the problem being that the whole of
the protective mechanism is stored on the disk, it is exposed
for exploitation. Consequently a better alternative is to
remove part of the process by requiring confirmation from
a remote server online.
Distribute Protected Files On Disk Or Host Them Online?
There are pros and cons for the distribution of sample files
on disk like CD and DVD. The main advantage for distributing
on disk is that the user can view it locally and while offline.
However the disadvatages in using this deployment are that
while offline you cannot properly protect your files or prevent
unaathorized use and redistribution. Also, once a catalog
has been distributed on disk, it cannot be updated with the
latest product, nor can discontinued products be removed.
Distributing protected files on disk that requires a user
to be online is step in the right direction because it enables
the integration of a rights policy administered by a remote
web server. The days of dialup Internet are long gone and
most users have Internet connections while walking down the
street, traveling on public transport, in fact almost everywhere
they go, so requiring an internet connection should no longer
The big plus with providing content dependent on an online
connection is that it will always be current because it can
be easily updated. Other advantages are of course the protection
that can be applied and with total control... imagine being
able to pull content or disable a user's access because their
check bounced. Online content can be protected by log-in and
it can also be protected using DRM (document rights management).
Sure, you can still distribute files on CD and that can be
most useful when your file readers are included and any mechanisms
to aid and enable a user to log into your site and conform
their identity. A leading developer in this field and one
that can provide the most secure applications for the copy
protection of the largest variety of files is ArtistScope.
The support team at ArtistScope provide free consultation
for all copy protect file and rights access projects, and
advise the best policy for your project. If they don't already
have a ready-made solution, they can customize one to cater
for any file protection that you require.
Copy Protecting Files For Online View
For the copy protection of files viewed online using a web
browser, there are two (2) most secure options available,
each providing secure copy protection from all methods of
copy and save.
Copy Protecting Files Online Via A Browser Plugin
Using a web browser plugin to decrypt copy protected files
and apply a layer of control to prevent copy and capture of
the file while displayed is simple to deploy and most effective.
If a user doesn't have the plugin installed they are redirected
to download and install it. Only when the plugin is installed
and active can a user view the copy protected content. CopySafe
Web provides copy protection in all Windows web browsers
and will prevent copy of the web page and anything displayed
on that page whether it be images, Flash, PDF or video. For
evaluation please see the
CopySafe Web demos online.
Copy Protecting Files Online Using A Secure Web Browser
While using a browser plugin can provide a most secure viewing
scenario, the situation is not ideal and a much more secure
environment can be created by using a secure web browser,
one specially designed to protect web content instead of exploiting
it. The ASPS Web Reader provides an encrypted stream from
server to the user and anything displayed in the reader is
most securely protected from all manner of copy without any
threat of data leakage or cache retrieval. For evaluation
download the ASPS Web Reader and explore the demo
links from its start page.
Copy Protecting Files For Local View & Offline Distribution
PDF files can be used for everything from contracts to invoices
and brochures, and there are many diverse solutions for protection
based on PDF. Password restriction and expiry dates are commonly
used and there are a multitude of PDF readers that provide
these options. Unfortunately most, while providing simple
access restrictions, do not prevent forwarding to others nor
provide protection from copy of the file's contents when open
for display. When looking at the options for properly protecting
a PDF file, there is only one application that is secure from
all exploits. CopySafe
PDF is the most secure and economical copy protection
solution for PDF files.
All-in-one solution for file protection and online distribution
CopySafe PDF provides the most secure copy protection for
files, protecting its contents from all manner of copy
and save including screen capture. CopySafe PDF files
can be distributed by download and on disk and can be read
locally whether online or offline. CopySafe PDF users are
entitled to free use of the CopySafe DRM Portal to further
extend the protection of the files to prevent onward forwarding
and unauthorized use.
The publishing service provided by the
CopySafe eBook Store has it all covered!
- Upload PDF files and convert to copy protected file
- Extend file protection to prevent unauthorized use
- Free listing in the CopySafe eBook Store shopping cart
- Online tools for managing file rights and downloads
- Online book cover designer to create promotional cover
- Online sales using credit cards and user tracking
- Totally free of any commissions or royalty
Return to the top