Thursday, January 30, 2014

Understanding PDF Postman's Free Trial Period

PDF Postman is an add-on for Microsoft Office Outlook that helps you send secure messages and files using the PDF format.  Using PDF Postman is as easy as composing an Outlook email message, and then clicking the "PDF Encrypt" button from the Outlook toolbar.

Screen shot of Outlook 2013 email window with PDF Postman buttons in the toolbar.
PDF Postman buttons installed in Outlook 2013
PDF Postman is free to try. The trial software operates for 15 full days. After your trial expires, you can purchase a full license to continue using the software. 

However, if you're only a very casual user of PDF Postman, you may decide to just contiue using the software in "free mode," where PDF Postman can be used to send up to 5 encrypted messages each month. The counter resets on the first of every month.

If you later decide to purchase a PDF Postman license key, it will be sent to you by email. Copy the key, and then go to PDF Postman's Settings > Register and enter the license key into the field.

For more information about acquiring a PDF Postman license, visit the official PDF Postman homepage.

Friday, October 4, 2013

PDF Postman, An Alternative To Traditional Outlook Email Encryption Solutions

PDF Postman is an add-on for Microsoft Outlook 2013/2010/2007/2003.  It's an alternative to traditional email encryption software schemes intended to simplify the sending of sensitive messages and files for the recipient.  PDF Postman is a good solution where the sender needs to deliver documents or a message by email, but does not need to receive a reply from the recipient.

PDF Postman leverages the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption that is part of the PDF format.  It supports encryption strengths of 256 bits or 128 bits.  Since compliant PDF viewers are available across all platforms, from Windows, Linux, Mac, Android, iOS, Blackberry, etc., the recipient of a PDF Postman encrypted message need only know the password.

The process for the recipient is simple. They click on the encrypted PDF file, and it opens in their local PDF viewer. The recipient's PDF viewer detects the encryption and asks for a password. If the password is correct, the PDF message and file attachments are displayed. If the password is correct, the message is displayed. The same password to encrypt the file is used to unencrypt it. This is called symmetric key encryption.

The PDF specification allows for embedding of files inside of a PDF. Embedded files may be extracted and saved on the recipient's desktop.  PDF Postman will embed email file attachments as individual files within the PDF, making it possible for the recipient to extract and even edit the file. Since the entire PDF file is encrypted, both the message in the pdf image and file attachments are protected.

Using PDF Postman

PDF Postman integrates with the Outlook toolbar.  In the image below, PDF Postman is placed on the toolbar for a new email message in Outlook 2013.
PDF Postman shown installed in the Outlook 2013 new email message toolbar.
PDF Postman toolbar in Outlook 2013

To encrypt a message and file attachments, select the button, "PDF Encrypt Email," and then send the message.  When the email is sent, PDF Postman converts the message to PDF format, embeds the file attachments inside the PDF file, and then encrypts the PDF file using a password you supply.

It's easy to adjust PDF Postman's settings to make it operate the way you need it to.  From the Outlook toolbar, click the PDF Postman "Settings" button.  This will open a window that will show you several tabs.

The first tab is the Settings tab. From you you can set the encryption strength, choose the language that PDF Postman operates in, and make decisions about whether a message should include a time stamp, or if an unencrypted copy of the message should be stored locally for email compliance reasons.

PDF Postman settings tab in Outlook 2013.
PDF Postman Settings. Set encryption strength.

The Template tab lets you create the template message. This template is used when sending to the recipient. It's a standard message that replaces the original message. The encrypted PDF file is attached to the templated email.

Image shows the PDF Postman email template message.
Setting the PDF Postman template message.

PDF Postman can also store your passwords for future use.  When you send an encrypted email message, PDF Postman checks to see if a password is stored in its list for the recipient's email address. If a password is found, it is used.  You can change the password any time from this list by clicking on it and typing a new one.

Email encryption password storage in PDF Postman.


 PDF Postman includes an option to store passwords locally, or to share them on a central database with other PDF Postman installations. If you wish to use remote storage of passwords, your IT administrator can enter the address to your database in this field.  PDF Postman will then look for a password on the remote database prior to using a local password. This is useful when you have several people in your office interacting with customers, and you do not want to inconvenience customers with multiple passwords.

Use PDF Postman to store passwords and share them with other users.
PDF Postman supports remote password storage.

To activate your PDF Postman software or to see which version you are running, go to the About tab.

PDF Postman About page.
About PDF Postman


While we recognize that PDF Postman is not right for everyone, it's a very reasonable solution for many small offices. Users of PDF Postman include professionals such as attorneys, accountants, transcriptionists, translators, insurance sales people, bankers, local governments, and many others. If the goal is to deliver sensitive documents by email in a high trust environment, then PDF Postman may be a good business-practical alternative to using highly complex crypto-systems that are burdensome on the recipient. 

Download a free trial of PDF Postman and use it for 15 days. 



Monday, September 16, 2013

Converting Outlook Email Documents Into PDF files With The PDF Postman Add-on.

PDF Postman is an add-on for Microsoft Outlook 2013 through 2003. It integrates tightly with the Outlook toolbar. Though generally used as a tool for encrypting email messages and attachments, PDF Postman another use. 

When you attach a document file to an Outlook email, you can choose to have PDF Postman convert it into an unencrypted PDF file.  The PDF file is then attached to the email and sent to the recipient.  The original document is removed from the email, and the PDF version of the file is attached to the email in it's place.
Image shows the location of the PDF Files button in the Outloo toolbar, which appears after PDF Postman add-on is installed.
PDF Postman toolbar in Outlook 2013

You can accomplish the conversion of document attachments quite easily. Simply open a new email message, write your message and attach your documents to the email.   The final step is to click the "PDF Files" button in the Outlook toolbar, and then send your message. The conversion will take place immediately, and the email will be sent with PDF file attached.

Remember that using the "PDF Files" function will NOT password encrypt the PDF file; it only converts it into a standard PDF file. To encrypt the email message and the attached documents, use the "PDF Encrypt Email" function.

You're welcome to download a free 15 day trial of PDF Postman. It works with both the 64-bit and 32-bit versions of Microsoft Outlook 2013 and 2013.  The correct version will be installed automatically.  Download our signed installer package directly from the PDF Postman website.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Considering Your Email Encryption Options: Software Vs Service

If email encryption is such a great idea, why don't more people use it? Since you found this web page, I can assume that you are in the market for an email encryption software product, and that you've been looking closely at the various solutions out there. What I would like to do here is tell you how our product, PDF Postman, may fit into your email encryption strategy. We recognize that not everyone is a perfect fit for PDF Postman. By discussing the product's strengths and weaknesses, we hope to inform you about whether this product is the best fit for your needs.

PDF Postman is an add-on for Microsoft Outlook. It integrates tightly into Outlook's menu system. The goal of PDF Postman is to provide a method of communication that is both secure and practical for the sender and the receiver.

First off, if you are spy or a reporter trying to thwart NSA surveillance, then PDF Postman is probably not a very good answer for you.  PDF Postman is a symmetric key or password encryption system. Password systems tend to be easier to use for both the send and recipient. The same password is used to send and open a message.  The parties need to agree on a password, an exchange that is typically done in person or over the telephone.  This key exchange requirement introduces the possibility that the password may be intercepted. In the case of the U.S. Government's NSA, intercepting a password that is spoken over the telephone would be a very simple matter.  If you are Glenn Greenwald, reporter for The Guardian newspaper, who has attracted the attention of the NSA by publishing Edward Snowden's leaked documents, we would not recommend PDF Postman for you.

For extreme situations where the highest degree of privacy is required between sender and receiver, both parties will need to take the time to implement public key encryption software, such as the open source Gnu Privacy Guard (GPG), an excellent piece of open source work, but very difficult to implement. In a public key system, each person has a public key that they can share with anyone.

This public key is used by others who want to send you an encrypted message.  A corresponding mathematically related private key is then used by the recipient to decrypt the message.  Public key encryption works on the premise that some mathematical equations are easy to solve, but difficult to undo. The private key lets you undo the encryption that was accomplished with the related public key.  For small office professionals, and especially for their customers, implementing GPG is probably not a practical option because of the complexity of the software.

Another option available for secure email communication is to use an intermediary service, such as Lockbin.com.  Lockbin also includes an add-on for Microsoft Outlook.  Again, if you've attracted the attention of the NSA, using an intermediary service is the best option for you, since U.S. court orders can influence the operators.  To Lockbin's credit, the company has begun publishing a transparency report on their blog each month. If they stop publishing the report, you can assume that they have received a gag order.

While intermediary services like Lockbin can simplify the processes of communicating securely between sender and receiver, the trade off is the potential for man-in-the-middle interception of the communication. Again, for most businesses and individuals, intermediaries provide an easy way to communicate securely without the difficulty of implementing managing your own hardware and software.

PDF Postman is used most frequently by smaller office professionals, where there is a high degree of trust between the sender and receiver.  PDF Postman works best on a uni-directional flow of protected information, from the professional to the recipient as a convenience.  Normally, the information being conveyed is a report of some sort, and a bi-directional flow information is not critical.

The benefit to the recipient is an instant understanding of the password concept (everyone uses passwords daily, and knows that they need to be kept private). A secondary benefit is the ease of decoding a PDF Postman message;  usually no additional software needs to be installed on a computer or device because of the popularity of the PDF platform.

What PDF Postman accomplishes for the sender is not very different than if the sender wrote his email in Microsoft Word, saved it as a PDF file, encrypted the PDF file, attached it to a new email message and created a short dummy message with instructions for the recipient.  The convenience of PDF Postman is that it accomplishes all of these steps in single click and manages the passwords, improving the efficiency of the sender.  Passwords can be stored in PDF Postman's database and recalled the next time a message is sent to the recipient.

To summarize, PDF Postman is best used in environments where:

  • There is a high degree of trust between sender and recipient
  • The recipient has a limited technical support ability
  • Bi-directional communication is not required
  • A low technical burden must be placed on the recipient
  • Cross platform and multi-device operations need to be accommodated
PDF Postman can also be used alongside other email encryption systems.  One client of PDF Postman is a department within a large U.S. bank that manages wealth for high net worth individuals.  The bank uses PGP, but PDF Postman is also installed to assist the bankers in communicating reports back to customers who are not technically savvy enough to implement a public key infrastructure.

Trial


If PDF Postman is a good fit for your needs, download a free trial. The best way to find out if it's right for you is to use it free for 15 days in your office environment. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Version 1.4 Adds Additional Language Support

PDF Postman version 1.4 was released yesterday. This is not a required update, but it is recommended for users who desire menu support in three additional languages:  German, Spanish, and Dutch. Language may be selected at any time by going to PDF Postman's Settings > Settings Tab, and choose your desired language from the drop down list, then saving your changes.  In addition to the aforementioned languages, PDF Postman also supports English, Russian and French.
We rely on professional translators to assist us, so if you are a native speaker and can suggest a better translation for any of the items, please contact us.


Spanish Menu Items in PDF Postman



German language toolbar for PDF Postman





PDF Postman Dutch toolbar shown in MS Outlook 2013



Download PDF Postman 1.4 here.

PDF Postman is an email encryption add-on for Microsoft Outlook 2003/2007/2010/2013. You can try the full version free for 15 days. When the trial expires, PDF Postman will enter "free" mode which allows you to send up to 5 PDF encrypted messages per month, resetting each month. Free mode may be upgraded to the full version at any time.

PDF Postman uses the common PDF platform and the AES-256 and AES-128 bit encryption that has been included in the PDF specification to provide you with a very easy, recipient friendly, cross-device way to send password protected encrypted messages through email.

Learn more about PDF Postman.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Customizing PDF Postman Settings

PDF Postman is an add-on for Microsoft Outlook that lets you communicate securely. It's best used in situations when there is a requirement for a simple one-way flow of information, such as a from a consultant to a client, or a doctor to a patient.  An alternative to complex email encryption schemes, PDF Postman makes it easy to communicate with anyone securely through email. It does this by leveraging the AES encryption standard that is included in the Portable Document Format (PDF) specification.  In other words, the messages you send from Outlook using PDF Postman can be opened by virtually any PDF standards-compliant viewer, including Adobe Reader.

PDF Postman integrates tightly with Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 through 2012.  This article discusses PDF Postman's Settings tab, which has numerous options that you can use to customize the software's default operations.

To get to the Settings tab, start Microsoft Outlook, open a new email message, and find PDF Postman's "Settings" tab. In Outlook 2003, it will be located in the top right corner of the PDF Postman toolbar.
The PDF Postman toolbar buttons as shown in MS Outlook 2013.
PDF Postman toolbar in Outlook 2013

Pressing "Settings" will cause the PDF Postman Settings window to open.


Configure PDF Postman settings on the Settings tab, shown here. Control how PDF Postman interacts with MS Outlook.
PDF Postman Settings Tab

Change Language. PDF Postman supports different languages in it's menus, and we are adding more with languages with each update.  Select the language that you prefer from the drop down list, and click "Save" to retain your selection

Encryption Strength
Select PDF Postman Encryption Strength
PDF Postman can convert your email message into an encrypted PDF file. There are two options:  Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 128 bit strength, and AES-256 bit strength.

AES-128 is most widely compatible with old computers and PDF viewers. However, AES-256 bit offers the strongest protection.  We recommend selecting 256-bit encryption, since it is compatible with Adobe Acrobat 9 and later.  Acrobat 9 was released in 2008, and experience has shown that using AES-256 PDF encryption is rarely presents a compatibility problem today.

Do Not Prompt For Password If Found In List
Check this box if PDF Postman should use the passwords it finds in it's password list.  If unchecked, PDF Postman will prompt you to enter a password, even if one exists in the password list.  Click here for more information on PDF Postman password storage.

Set Message Encryption Default To On
This causes the "PDF Encrypt Message" option to be on by default each time a new email message window is opened. If you operate in an environment where you routinely send sensitive information, then activating this option is a good idea, and may prevent you from accidentally sending information unencrypted.

Set the encryption options.
Set The Encryption Option
If you set message encryption default to "on," choose which mode you want to activate.  You can select from PDF Encrypt Email, PDF Encrypt Files, or PDF Files. Whichever selection
 you choose will be automatically turned on each time a new email message is opened.

Image shows other settings on the Settings tab that can be used to adjust the software's operational settings.
Additional PDF Postman Settings

Time Stamp Encrypted Message
Will place a notice within the PDF file stating the time that the file was created. If it's important to have a record that the message was sent encrypted, then activate this item.

Obscure Email Subject Line In Container Email
Setting this option will obscure your email subject line in the container message.  Uncheck it if you prefer to have your original email subject line included in the container message.  The container message is the default message to which your encrypted PDF file is attached.

Save Unencrypted Copy In Sent Items Folder
If you would like to retain an unencrypted copy of email messages you send in Outlook's Sent Items folder, check this item.  If you don't check it, then PDF Postman will not retain an unencrypted copy. An encrypted copy is always saved in your Outlook Sent Item's folder.

Show Message About Encryption Success
If you like to receive a confirmation from PDF Postman after it has successfully encrypted your message, then leave this item checked.  If, after sending many messages, you simply no longer want to see the notification, simply uncheck this box.

More information about the PDF Postman Settings tab can found in the online product manual.

To learn about PDF Postman, visit the product home page where you can download a free trial and access more articles.  You can also contact PDF Postman technical support with specific questions through the online help system.



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Protecting Your PDF Postman Passwords

PDF Postman is an add-on for Microsoft Outlook 2013/2010/2007 and 2003 that provides a simple way to send a secure email message. PDF Postman users the AES-256 bit strong encryption that's built into the portable document file (PDF) specification to protect your message. Using PDF makes it easily accessible to anyone who knows the password and who has a PDF reader on their laptop, tablet or phone.

PDF Postman is not a "public key" system, where you can publicly share your key with the world. Rather, it's a symmetric key system, which means the same password is used to open the message as is used to protect it.  Using a symmetric key system like PDF Postman makes it much easier to send protected files to someone (just agree on a password and keep it to yourselves), but also means that both sender and receiver should take care to protect the password from those who would steal them.

PDF Postman gives you the option to create strong random passwords, and to store them in a mail list as they are created.  Storing passwords to the list is optional and is not required.

If you choose to store a password for an email recipient, then PDF Postman saves it to the Passwords list.  Passwords can be edited or changed any time by going to PDF Postman's Settings>Passwords tab.  To change a password just click on the old one and type a new password.

Password List

Protecting the Password List


If you do not have exclusive use of your computer, or if you are worried about theft, you can keep people out of the password list by (you guessed it) password protecting the list itself.  Take care to protect your list password, or you may lose access to the list entirely. We recommend writing it down and storing it in a safe or locked file.

To activate password protection, go to PDF Postman's Settings > Settings tab, and click the box for "Password Protect Settings and Password Menu." This will bring up another window called "Create Master Password," where you can type your master password.

Image shows how to set a master password for PDF Postman add-on for MS Outlook.
How to set a master password for PDF Postman

Click Save, and now the next time you enter PDF Postman's settings, you will first have to enter the access password.

PDF Postman's setting's password is not a substitute for practical device security measures.  You should work with the IT department in your company to ensure that your device is further protected. Other measures you can take may include whole-device encryption, and even using the basic screen saver lock to protect your device from casual on-premise snooping.

Learn more about PDF Postman and try it free for 15 days.