Online Document Security Tips

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October 23, 2015
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How to keep someone from stealing photos and documents from you website.

You spend a lot of time and creative energy creating content for your website, and don’t want someone to just come along and swipe it, right?


Keep in mind, there isn’t a way to 100% block someone from copying your images. If it shows on the screen, someone can always do a print screen or screen capture of the image. That said, there are some things you can do to slow it/minimize it:

  1. Add some JavaScript controls to prevent right-clicks on your website. This will prevent the “Save image as…” in the browser. However, this is an older way to handle this, since it can be defeating by disabling JavaScript or by accessing the image URL directly and can annoy users by disrupting other right-click functions.
  2. Add a watermark to your images. This is probably the most effective as it covers both of the scenarios above. This can be done automatically on the server itself or before the images are uploaded to the site. This can still be defeated, however, by someone cropping out the watermark.


If you are worried about theft of documents from your public site there are a number of approached you can take:

  1. For PDF documents, you can create a secure, password-protected PDF. To secure a document, create a PDF with security restrictions: How to set PDF file password permissions
  2. As mentioned above, you can password protect the entire document. You can also restrict certain actions such as editing or printing.
  3. Alternatively, you can use a document hosting service that allows embedding on your website. Examples includes Google Drive, Scribd, Hashdoc, and more. Most of these have privacy settings to allow viewing only.

As with pictures, if it shows on the screen or someone is determined enough, these restrictions can still be removed.

Also, adding these enhancements to your website would depend on the flexibility of the site platform. Post your questions in the comments section, or contact us if you’d like help implementing any of these features on your website.