This idea, that the data contained in a password-protected PDF is safe and secure, isnt complicated, but by the time you toss in the concepts of document workflow, server-side encryption and "policies" served, it is way over the head of the typical office user.
Attach Plus, based in Tempe, Ariz., gets it, though, and the company has distilled the concept of PDF as a secure container down to a level that anyone bright enough to send an e-mail can get.
The companys product, also called Attach Plus, takes a document, turns it into a PDF if its not already one, attaches it to an e-mail, and puts password protection on it—all from within a persons e-mail client software.
Two seconds, and the tax forms youre exchanging with an accountant are suddenly wrapped up in a secure container. Just like the ones that high-rolling multinational financial institutions are shooting around their networks.
The idea behind Attach Plus, according to the companys development manager, Kevin Basso, grew out of small financial planners need for a desktop software tool to quickly secure documents sent to customers.
These small businesses needed security not only for transmitting their clients sensitive personal data across the Internet, but also to keep it secure in their hard drives—because of SEC regulations that require they keep records for seven years—and as a result the whole market sector is migrating from paper to PDF.
Password-protected PDFs can also prevent the embarrassment of accidentally sending a document to the wrong person, Basso points out.
"These financial planners serve their hometown communities, not regions. If you accidentally send something, its to a neighbor, and youre telling them how much you make, how much youve been saving and all that."