Think about the sheer number of times you have read or shared a document as a PDF? Probably more times than you can count, right? PDF files are one of the universally most used document formats that almost every website has a few of. With the age of emailing when links are being shared constantly, it’s more important than ever to decide if PDF files are truly safe to open.
Cyber-attacks usually try their hardest to trick people into opening PDF files and attachments in exchange for information.
The real problem is it can be super hard to know if a PDF document or attachment is dangerous just by looking it. That’s because they attach a code that can compromise your whole computer by taking down your security system without you even knowing.
So, in short, the answer to the question are PDF attachments safe to open is double-sided. Not always, but they can be and you can learn to protect yourself. Keep reading to find out how!
Are PDF Attachments Safe to Open: Our Tips
Update Your Software
One of the most often repeated pieces of advice that everyone is sick of hearing, but is true all the same, is that you need to keep your PDF reader software up to date.
More often than not we ignore the updates of our security features and readers because of the time they take to download and they often ask us to restart the computer.
Well, this may not entirely save you from all other PDF related problems, but it can certainly help to avoid viruses. Just make sure to download the update straight from the reader’s website – working from the source is always best.
If you use Adobe Acrobat you can also use their Protected Mode, which will help you to open the PDF document in a sandbox. This means that your file will be opened in an isolated way, keeping it away from any kind of malicious software.
Nowadays, many of us have a PDF reader plugin that allows us to open PDF files straight in the web browser, saving us time. Sadly, this comes with a major downside as it makes you more vulnerable to malicious software.
It’s a much safer option to use the browser’s built-in plugin that will open the PDF for you in a sandbox so that you’re secure.
We recommend that you should disable any plugins that might have been downloaded separately and are easily targeted by attackers, though it has been thought by experts for a long time that one of the best ways to prevent against PDF attacks is to remove you PDF reader from the web browser.
As they said, prevention is better than a cure.
Check Your Reader Settings
Another way of editing your PDF files is also to check the settings of your reader and to make sure that your security settings on are on a maximum.
Unfortunately, if you turn up security features, this can sometimes take from other features. For example, using Adobe Acrobat’s Protected Mode, you are definitely safer when opening PDF attachments, but you are no longer able to use features like printing or full-screen mode.
Even though no advice is going to make you or your computer 100% secure, we hope these tips help you as they decrease your vulnerability.