Every year, more than 400 billion PDFs are opened in Adobe software alone. Since its inception way back in 1993, the portable document format has endured, largely thanks to its compact file size, cross-platform compatibility, versatility and graphical integrity. Not the least of its enduring features, though, is the ability to be signed and dated, which is something you can do using a wide variety of software options, including those from the PDF creators at Adobe. Of course, just about any document worth signing is a document worth securing — and that’s where CapLinked comes in.

What’s The Problem With Email?

When receiving a document that requires a signature and a date, ensuring that everything you return to the sender is secure and protected is paramount. It is your signature, after all, and whether you’re dealing with financial records, tax forms or business deals, you want to make sure that this personally identifying info is as safeguarded as possible.

When you send an email, it doesn’t just go from your account straight to the recipient. Rather, that message travels across multiple servers and networks before it reaches its final destination. While this all happens in a matter of seconds, the tiny pauses your email takes as it moves along various servers and networks leave it exposed to lurking hackers, phishers, scam artists and bad actors looking to exploit this vulnerability. Now imagine a sensitive, unsecured PDF is attached to that email. The potential gravity of that situation just sank in, didn’t it?

Explore the benefits of utilizing a robust digital document management solution with advanced security features to safeguard your tax forms and other sensitive documents effectively. Implementing such a solution will provide peace of mind and ensure that your personally identifying information remains protected. Contact us today for a personalized consultation on tax form management and secure document solutions.

Unsecured Document Sharing

When you share a PDF or other sensitive docs online using peer-to-peer technology without taking any additional security measures, that’s called unsecured document sharing — and it’s a real risk. Unsecured document sharing leaves your private info, company data and employee information open to cyberattacks, which can result in identity theft, fraud and significant financial losses.

According to data from Ponemon Institute, Intralinks and DocXellent, roughly 77% of organizations do not have a secure means for their employees to share or access documents. Verizon’s 2022 Data Breach Investigation Report reveals that 82% of data breaches involve human errors, misuse and social attacks — all of which can be prevented or mitigated with secure document sharing practices.

Encryption — or the process of converting information into complex data or code to help prevent unauthorized access — is just one of these security measures, but most email providers aren’t up to snuff in this department. Companies like Gmail provide standard email encryption by default, but their base-level encryption technologies (usually a form of encryption known as S/MIME) have long been vulnerable to cybercriminals and hackers who are easily able to extract the plain text from the data. More than that, your emails are stored on most servers indefinitely, so even decades-old email messages that have long since been deleted can be recovered with the right sort of unsavory know-how.

How To Sign a PDF Document

While the basic signing of a PDF doesn’t ensure its security — we’ll help you through that process in just a bit — knowing how to sign a PDF document is essential to day-to-day business. To sign a PDF using Adobe’s own tools, start by opening the doc in Adobe Acrobat or Reader, then do the following:

  1. Click the Sign icon in the toolbar (a symbol of a pen tip). Or you can go to the menu bar and choose Tools > Fill & Sign or choose Fill and Sign from the right pane.
  2. Click “Fill & Sign” when the Fill & Sign tool is displayed. 
  3. Hover the mouse over a field to display a blue box — this indicates an editable form field, such as a space for a signature. Click the desired blue box to edit that field (in this case, the signature field).
  4. Click the Sign icon in the toolbar, then choose “Add Signature” or “Add Initials.” If you’re using the software for the first time, you’ll be prompted to add your signature or initials by typing them, drawing them with your mouse, or uploading an image of them. Once you’ve done so, your signature and initials are saved — when you click “Add Signature” or “Add Initials,” they’ll be added to the signature field.

How To Add a Date to PDFs

So now you know how to sign a PDF document. Need to add a date to the PDF, too? If the PDF already had a blank field for you to insert a date, you can simply use Adobe’s Fill & Sign tools as above — just type the date in the date field once you’ve selected it with a blue box. If you need to add your own date field to a document that doesn’t have one in Acrobat, open the PDF and do the following: 

  1. Choose “Forms & Signatures,” then click “Prepare Form” and “Add a Date Field.” 
  2. Drag the date field to the desired location in your PDF.
  3. Double-click the field to access Properties, where you can choose the preferred format for your date, then save those changes.

Once applied, you can fill the date field using Fill & Sign. And remember, though Adobe created the PDF, they’re not the only game in town. While each one works slightly differently, free online PDF signing tools such as DocuSign, PDF Filler, PDFescape, PDF Buddy, HelloSign, SignNow and others allow you to sign and date PDFs and other docs with straightforward, intuitive interfaces. Of course, these tools don’t offer robust security options — but we’ve got you covered there. 

How To Send PDFs Securely Through CapLinked

Dating and signing in CapLinked happens in our virtual data room (VDR), a web-based platform that can be securely accessed by those with permission, anywhere using desktop and mobile devices. Our app can be downloaded and up and running in less than 10 minutes, but the peace of mind lasts a lifetime. Here’s how it works.

  • Upload your document to the virtual data room: Invite only the people you trust to participate by giving them the proper permissions. You control who gets access to the document, and when. And even if someone has received your PDF, they can’t send it to someone who doesn’t have permission to read it. That’s secure.
  • Collaborate with your participants, granting them permission to sign and date the PDF in question. For PDFs and other documents, you can also enable your verified users to ask questions, make revisions, or access the files on mobile.
  • Track your document as it is emailed safely with our 256-bit advanced encryption standard, using the most up-to-date cipher suites to restrict those who can view and access it. Keep tabs on the document to know exactly when it’s signed, when it’s waiting and what updates and comments have been made.

In terms of additional features, CapLinked’s VDR also allows you to set time-limited viewing access, customize downloading and printing restrictions and revoke user access at any time you choose to do so. 

CapLinked Dynamic Watermarking Tool

The power of CapLinked’s VDR enables secure sending, signing and sharing, but that’s not where it ends — watermarks can also help safeguard sensitive documents, including PDFs and beyond. So, what are watermarks? A standard watermark, which can be applied to physical or digital docs, is a usually semi-transparent logo, stamp or signature superimposed onto a document to identify ownership and discourage sharing or counterfeiting. Dynamic watermarks like those offered by CapLinked take it to the next level.

With our dynamic watermarking tool, you get that visual watermark and a lot more — customized information is stored within the digital watermark and updated each time the doc is opened or downloaded. This includes the time and date the document was opened, the name of the user who opened it, the user’s email address and the user’s IP address. Better still, you can customize what types of data you’d like to track from these categories.

Work With CapLinked

Applying custom dynamic watermarks in a sleek, streamlined fashion is one key way to secure your PDFs from being distributed by bad actors. And when you rely on a secure virtual data room, you’ve taken the most essential step in preventing your PDFs and other sensitive documents from falling into the wrong hands in the first place. But don’t wait until it’s too late to take those steps; sign up for a free trial today.