Question Password Protected PDFs???

JeckeL

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Jul 19, 2009
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We receive a lot of password protected HIPAA-compliant documents in PDF format and I was wondering what versions of reader/acrobat/etc have the ability to remove passwords/security features? Most of our end users just have adobe reader installed on their machines and while they can enter the password and view the document, we cannot import it in to our electronic health records software because of the password/security of the file. We do have a machine with adobe creative suite on it which has acrobat professional on it and I can disable the password/security with it.

The weird thing is, some of the end users can right click most of these protected PDF's, open them with MS Word, enter the password, then save the word file as a PDF and voila, no password protected PDF (which is slightly more work for them than just giving me the location of the file and the password and then I "unlock" it with acrobat)? what.... the.... HECK.............................
 

JeckeL

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Cant's help bypass passwords.
I have the password, I am intended viewer of the password protected document, what I'm referring to is utilizing legitimate functions of legitimate software. I was just hoping someone would be able to shed some light on whether it is certain versions of reader, or reader vs acrobat, that have the security disabling/altering features because it's very confusing... or we could rephrase the question:

Does anyone else work with protected health information & password protected PDF files and scanning them in to a health care practice's electronic health care file system? If so, how do you handle them, what's the best course of action?
 
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Full-blown Acrobat versions can do that. Third-party apps can do that as well. If PDF file allows for printing, you can re-print it as another PDF password-free.

But I'd check with your security offices first, whether you're allowed to keep non-protected documents in first place.
 

britechguy

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I have used all of the previously mentioned techniques at one point or another, and I hasten to add, like the OP, I was not attempting to bypass security, as I knew the password. Using something like PDFCreator to create a copy by printing it, after you have opened it using the password which you are not bypassing, very often works.

The problem is that many times archival copies, which are kept in systems with the necessary security, need to be kept such that anyone who has legitimate access to said system can see them without a password for the document. Electronic medical records are an excellent example. I've never seen a HIPAA compliant record archiving system that allows you to save password protected documents because it makes them impossible for all legitimate reviewers, and there will be plenty of those over time, to access them unless you were to record the password, which defeats the purpose and adds an unnecessary step in a correctly protected archive system. If you have access to the system and a given individuals records it's presumed you have permission's to review them all.

What is being requested under the conditions requested does not involve a security compromise on the source material.
 

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