PDF File Forensics Tool to Overcome Investigation Challenges

Carl Wilson | Last Modified: March 2nd, 2019 | Freebies

PDF file format is a great hit amongst users for its quality to save static and dynamic data, steadfast security, multiple options to manage its contents etc. For now, it is hard to believe an enterprise that does not uses a PDF document for contracts, confidential information, for sharing crucial details with employees, and for many other similar jobs. Understanding the advantage and excessive usage of Adobe documents for professional arena, they are misused for illegitimate activities and this is reason why PDF files are now days considered as one of the major source to carve evidences.

Nevertheless, like investigation of any other file, PDF file forensics do involves some challenges, or we can say some important targets that can help to simplify the overall investigation procedure.

#1: PDF Redaction

PDF Redaction is the technique of hiding confidential data before its final publication. In situations where a redacted PDF is received, the main problem is how to read its content. Although its one of the modes adopted to protect important part of PDF from unwanted exposure, it may be the initial restriction that obstructs the forensics process.

#2: Password Protection

User password or the open document password is like any other security code that limits the users to open and read the contents of file unless the password with exact match is provided. Although it is very easy in case of most of the applications to crack the password using tricks, passwords for PDF file forensics can be cracked using third party tools only. When it is needed to extract some data from secured PDF evidences then one can make use of the professional software i.e. PDF Password Unlocker Tool.

#3: Extracting Images

Images go a long way in extracting evidences. If there are few images in the PDF file, they can be extracted manually while for a large number, it is always recommended to use a solution to extract images from PDF without any changes in the metadata. One of the limitations in this process could be local restrictions set on PDF that restrain extracting text or images from PDF document.

#4: Corrupt PDF

A PDF file can get damaged due to various hardware or software related issues on system. In that case the file cannot be opened or read and error messages will restrict opening the PDF file.

#5: PDF Attached in Mail

PDF files received as email can be have malicious links, images, or files attached to it. Adobe documents enclosed within a mail can do identity loss, cause harm to the file (s) and folder (s) on machine, have links attached to images etc. Such illegitimate activities can be caught using PDF file forensics tools that scans the email body and attachments to carve out the disaster causing elements.

#6: Managing PDF Files – PDF File System Forensic Analysis

Size of PDF file can create trouble in two situations:

When it is very Small: If there are number of PDF files that are small in size, their investigation can be simplified by merging them all.

When it is very Large: If the PDF file is large in size, then it is better to split it first and then proceed for its analysis procedure so as to ensure that no part is left un-investigated.

While Adobe Acrobat can be a great help to work around limitations of PDF file forensics and analysis, a lot of jobs can be simplified using external PDF forensics tool. Adopting solutions to resolve various PDF restrictions in investigation can aid the analysis procedures in a positive manner.


Specifications of the PDF Recovery Tool: –

  • Supported OS – Windows 10 & all below versions
  • Size of Tool – 1.5 MB
  • Version – 1.1
  • License – Freeware
  • Processor Required – Minimum 512 MB
  • RAM Required – 512 MB
  • Free Hard Disk Space Required – 5 MB
  • Language Support – English