What are the pros and cons of online PDF security vs offline?

With the Managed Online PDF security service the main benefits (Pros) are:

  • end users access the service via standard modern web browser, so there is no need to download and install special software, which is a problem for some groups of users – notably for major corporates, government units, some schools and colleges etc, where installation of third party software is not permitted. It also means that there is no technical support required for the end user software, as this is handled locally by the user or IT department
  • the service is available across all technology platforms, as long as there is a modern web browser available
  • there are typically no problems in service access due to customer network security restrictions
  • access to documents can be controlled via username and password controls, with tracking and reporting, and optionally with IP address control. Access can be withdrawn instantly if required
  • typically the service is set up so that there is no facility for downloading or printing the documents. Printing can be enabled if required but has limited controls over its usage
  • the service is highly scalable, so 100s or 1000s of end users can be provided with access very quickly and simply, with costs contained so these may be considerably lower than an equivalent offline service

The main disadvantages (Cons) of an online/web-based service are:

  • display quality and speed is not as good as offline
  • navigation of documents is more limited, although hyperlinks do work well
  • print control is more limited and hence less secure than offline print controls
  • each document requires a multi-stage process to set it up on our managed service, incurring an initial setup cost per document
  • users could provide their username/password details to others, thereby misusing the system. Obviously tracking helps identify any such abuse and users can be disabled immediately any such behaviour is detected
  • access to files must be online, i.e. an active internet connection is required in order to view the files
  • online documents should be formatted to ensure readability on a range of target screens, and very long and large files should not be used. Files large than a few hundred pages can be loaded but are difficult to navigate and can occupy a large amount of disk storage, so are more costly to host