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How to sign a secured PDF document?

Signeasy offers an easy and secure way to sign password-protected PDF documents anywhere, anytime, and on any device.

Sign a PDF

Encrypted PDFs are great for sending and receiving sensitive contracts online, but do you know how to sign a password-protected PDF?

Signeasy is one of the most secure and easy-to-use eSignature solutions that allow users to sign password-protected PDF documents. All your important documents, such as W-9 forms, real estate contracts, and confidential loan documents, can be signed and sent within a few minutes from any device.

Let us walk you through the importance of encrypted PDFs, how they differ from password-protected documents, and the easiest way to sign a password-protected PDF document online. We’ll also point you toward the software that can help you electronically sign encrypted PDFs on any platform you happen to be using, including those on mobile devices.

What are secured PDF documents?

Secured PDF documents are PDF files that have been encrypted or protected with security features to restrict unauthorized access, prevent modifications, or control document permissions.

Common security features of secured PDF documents:

  • Password protection: Secured PDF documents may require a password to open or perform specific actions, such as editing, printing, or copying content.
  • Digital signatures: Some secured PDF documents may have one or more digital signatures applied to ensure the authenticity and integrity of the document.
  • Certificate-based encryption: Encryption techniques are used to secure the contents of the PDF document, ensuring that only authorized recipients can access the document.
  • Permissions settings: Secured PDF documents may have specific permissions assigned, such as allowing or disallowing certain actions like printing, editing, or extracting content.

How security affects the signing process:

  • Security measures in secured PDF documents can impact the signing process by adding an extra layer of protection and verification.
  • The signing process may require additional credentials, such as digital certificates or signing keys, to authenticate the signer's identity.
  • It is essential to use compatible tools and software that can handle secured PDF documents and support the necessary security features.
  • The signing tool should preserve the document's security features and ensure that the signed document remains secure and tamper-proof after the signature is applied.

What is the difference between an encrypted and password-protected PDF?

Let us quickly understand the difference between encrypted and password-protected PDFs to ensure your sensitive document or contract has the right level of protection.

Password-protected PDFs

Opening a password-protected PDF file requires a password, but the PDF and the content within are not encrypted. The passwords on these documents are easily bypassed or even removed, leaving the content viewable and alterable by a malicious actor. These PDFs are less secure than encrypted PDFs.

Encrypted PDFs

All the content within an encrypted PDF is scrambled (encrypted), which means by passing the password won’t make your data accessible.

In essence, the encryption and the password are two separate things in the case of encrypted PDFs, both of which would need to be cracked to access the data within. Using standard hacker methods of stripping out the password would still make the PDF unintelligible without a way to decrypt it. Considering that it would take a super computer more time than the current age of the universe to crack 128-bit encryption (which is one of the weaker encryptions used in SSL), that kind of breach is unlikely.

These PDFs, when encrypted properly, are highly secure

What PDF documents should be encrypted or password protected?

Not every PDF contract you send or receive needs a high level of protection, but most should be encrypted to protect you and any parties involved. We’ve compiled some of the most common encrypted PDFs you might need to sign and the kinds of PDFs you need encrypted.

Financial documents

Does the PDF contain financial data about any involved party, including bank information, account numbers, tax data, or any other information that could risk the assets of anyone involved? Encrypt it. Real estate contracts, tax documents, loan agreements, and financial partnership contracts would fall into this category.

Confidential data

Does the PDF contain anything that could be considered “trade secrets”? Encrypt it. Legal documents, mergers, acquisitions, patents, copyright documents, manuscripts, screenplays, and any form of sensitive intellectual property should all be sent and signed as encrypted PDFs.

Medical records

Does the PDF contain any sensitive medical or personal information? Encrypt it. Medical consent forms, medical diagnoses, guardianship forms, and adoption forms are great examples of paperwork and contracts that might need to be signed and should been crypted.

Legal agreements

Does your PDF contain a contract or legal documentation to be used in courts of law? Encrypt it. Retention agreements, Power of attorney agreements, engagement letters, shareholder agreements, asset purchase agreements, board consents, confidentiality agreements, class action communications, M&A agreements, and employment contracts that have to be signed should be encrypted.

How to Know if your PDF is password protected or encrypted?

Once you’ve been given the password by whoever sent you the PDF, you can usually check the level of encryption in a standard PDF viewer by checking out the security details. This kind of information is mainly found in the File or Properties menu. For most software, you can even search in the help bar for “security,” and then follow the directions to find out how encrypted your PDF is.

How does Signeasy help you sign a secured PDF?

Signing an encrypted PDF is tricky without help and is not always native to basic PDF viewers. Instead, you’ll need software to sign it (and to ensure the signature is protected once you do).

While most basic PDF software includes a signing feature, the signature, and the PDF are rarely encrypted—this means they don’t have security or accountability. To help encrypt and track all signatures for your PDF, you’ll want to use an eSignature platform like Signeasy.

Signeasy can be used on your computer or mobile device. On mobile devices, there is both an Android version and an Apple version. Once downloaded and installed, you simply sign up for the app, open the encrypted PDF, and sign the PDF. Every signature will be digitally audited (making them trackable) and encrypted with SSL encryption.

Adding biometric gates is also wise, especially for contracts signed on multiple devices. It adds another layer of security, which is always a good idea.

Can you edit a password-protected PDF?

Yes, you can edit a password-protected PDF by removing its encryption.


People are adopting new ways of working and remote workflows, and modern encryption and eSignatures can facilitate these changes.

Signeasy provides a way to sign confidential, encrypted documents and a user-friendly interface to keep those documents organized. Your contracts will be encrypted, your eSignatures will be tracked and secured, and you’ll easily find all those organized contracts in the future. Get Signeasy to contribute to a more efficient, secure, and paperless world.

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May 17, 2022 11:00 a.m  CT

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