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current state of FOSS tools for PDF encryption/decryption

After much searching, studying, testing various PDF encryption tools
out in the wild FOSS jungle, these are my findings:

*Password-based cryptography*

  encryption with signing:  use JSignPDF
  encryption w/out signing: use qpdf (not pdftk)
  decryption: 	   	    use qpdf (not pdftk)
  viewing RC-4, AES-128:    evince, okular, or xpdf
  viewing AES-256: 	    impossible

  (JSignPDF rationale) It's the only FOSS PDF tool that can both sign
                       and encrypt.  But note that the signature
		       obviously uses key-based cryptography.
  
  (qpdf rationale) qpdf handles both RC4 and AES, and it supports key
                   sizes of 40, 128, and 256.  It does all the crypto
		   that pdftk does, plus AES, so there is no benefit to
		   using pdftk for this.

  (viewer rationale) evince, okular, and Xpdf can all view RC4 and
                     AES-128 encrypted documents.  Note that Xpdf is
		     aesthetically favorable, as it's the only viewer
		     capable of replacing white backgrounds with a
                     less harsh color.

  (viewer limitations) No FOSS PDF viewer can open AES-256-encrypted
                       documents at this time.  The only option for
		       non-COTS-using recipients is to downgrade or
		       remove the encryption (using qpdf) before
		       viewing.  Also note that Xpdf has a -opw option 
		       that's broken (it does not parse the
		       commandline as documented), but the -upw option
		       works.

*Key-based cryptography*

  key generation:           use openssl
  encryption with signing:  use JSignPDF
  encryption w/out signing: impossible
  decryption: 	            impossible
  viewing:                  impossible

  (rationale) JSignPDF is in fact the only FOSS tool to be capable of
              encrypting a PDF using a pkcs12 key and producing output
              that is still within the PDF spec (unlike gpg, for
	      example, which imposes pgp-capability on recipients).

  (JSignPDF limitations) JSignPDF is primarily designed as a signing
                         tool, and it forces signing.  It is incapable
			 of encrypting without signing (as a
			 workaround, one could do a non-visible sig
			 with a one-time dummy key and then destroy
			 the key).

  (viewing limitations) The payload cannot be decrypted or viewed
                        using any FOSS tools.  So key-based encrypted
			PDFs are useless unless the document recipient
			uses something commercial and proprietary to
			open the document.
			

0
Nomen
9/26/2015 4:59:08 PM
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