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Thread: First Post - Censoring of PDF in email attachments

  1. #1
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    Smile First Post - Censoring of PDF in email attachments

    Hi

    I'm not an internet security professional.
    I just wondered onto this site via Google.

    My questions:
    Can PDF text be scanned in an email attachment, as it is in transit?
    It is technically possible?
    Does it happen if practice , in other countries?

    Thanks
    Last edited by weegillis; 04-30-2012 at 07:42 PM. Reason: title repair

  2. #2
    Administrator weegillis's Avatar
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    It would depend upon the type of firewall or antivirus program in place on the client machine. Most modern A/V and some firewall software scans everything coming through the mail ports, before it stores it on the drive. As well, by default, Adobe Reader will not allow JavaScript to be enabled in the PDF without the user's intervention.

    Outgoing PDF's would need to be scanned manually before sending.

  3. #3
    Rest in Peace 1946 - 2013 deepsand's Avatar
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    Some AV, such as AVG, provide for optional scanning of outgoing e-mail as well.

  4. #4
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    I suspect the question is about securing the content of the pdf against snoopers en-route rather than from the perspective of malicious / viruses etc.

    Short answer is yes, it's probably possible - pdf is a recognised "open" format that if someone intercepted the document in transit, and had the right tools, they'd be able to read it. There are ways of securing pdf's but don't know how effective they are against determined interceptors.

    And no idea if anyone does in practice, apart from maybe Google's rogue roving spycars
    Clarrie
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  5. #5
    Senior Member compusolver's Avatar
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    Possible and being done

    Quote Originally Posted by nworbmit View Post
    Hi

    I'm not an internet security professional.
    I just wondered onto this site via Google.

    My questions:
    Can PDF text be scanned in an email attachment, as it is in transit?
    It is technically possible?
    Does it happen if practice , in other countries?

    Thanks
    Yes, it is possible if the email and or pdf is not sent encrypted. Does it happen? Probably just about everything that is possible is being done somewhere, sometimes.

    Even text sent within an image file can be read, though with much more difficulty. No matter what format, everything digital is basically just zeros and ones, and a bored programmer/hacker with enough time on their hands can do just about anything.
    - Hank Castello
    Hidden Content

  6. #6
    Senior Member jhannawin's Avatar
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    Yes, this would be possible. Intercepting the mail rather than hooking something up on a mail server would be far more tricky. Is it being done? Probably far more than any of us want to think about!

    What can you do? Use encryption on the PDF and the mail to deter the opportunists, but as Hank says if someone is determined enough and has the resources .... Also try not to use trigger words like ********* [Redacted]. There you go they're everywhere
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  7. #7
    Rest in Peace 1946 - 2013 deepsand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clarrie View Post
    I suspect the question is about securing the content of the pdf against snoopers en-route rather than from the perspective of malicious / viruses etc.

    Short answer is yes, it's probably possible - pdf is a recognised "open" format that if someone intercepted the document in transit, and had the right tools, they'd be able to read it.
    The "right tools" are readily at hand. So as to foster the acceptance of PDF, Adobe itself has long provided a free reader; and, therr are countless free alternatives available.

    If a PDF file is not both locked and encrypted, it is open to being both read and altered.

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