University of California, Riverside


Encrypting Protected Information


It is important when sending sensitive protected information that the file is passworded and uses 256-bit encryption.  This is the standard encryption method as described by the Department of Homeland Security.  It is important to keep sensitive, personally identifiable information safe and use stricter handling guidelines due to the increased risk to an individual if the data is compromised. 

NOTE: Adobe Acrobat Professional software must be purchased (version 9 or higher) by the sender. The recipient of the encrypted file will need Adobe Reader 9 or higher in order to open the file. Adobe Reader 9 or higher can be downloaded for free from Adobe’s website ( 

How to Encrypt and Password PDF file (Windows)

  1. Open up Windows Explorer and locate the file.

  2. Make sure the file is in PDF format. If not, right click on the file and click “Convert to Adobe PDF” to save the file with a PDF extension.

  3. With the PDF file open in Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro, click "Advanced, Security, Encrypt with Password".
    Encrypting PDF step 3

  4.  Click “Yes” when prompted to change the security on the document.
    Encrypting PDF step 4

  5. Set “Compatibility” to “Acrobat 9.0 or later” so that the encryption level is 256-bit AES. Ensure that "Encrypt all document contents" is selected. 

  6. Check the box labeled "Require a password to open the document."

  7. Enter a password in the "Document Open Password" field. Please make sure the password is at least 8 characters long and is a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. Click OK
    Encrypting PDF step 7

  1. In the Adobe Acrobat – Confirm Document Open Password box, retype the password in the “Document Open Password” field.

  2. Click OK if you see a message that the settings do not take effect until the document is saved.

  3. Record the password since you will need to provide it to the recipient so that he or she can open the file.  It is best to send the password separately and not in the same email you are sending the encrypted file, or via phone to the person receiving the file.

  4. Close the PDF document (by clicking File, Close, or the small bold x near the upper right corner). Or, you can close Adobe Acrobat program entirely (by clicking File, Exit, or the big [X] button in the upper right corner).

  5. The new encrypted PDF file and password can now be sent to the user. 

How to Open and Read the Passworded and Encrypted PDF file 

Adobe Acrobat Reader version 9 or higher needs to be installed first on the computer.  Adobe Reader 9 or higher can be downloaded for free from Adobe’s website ( 

  1. Click on the downloaded PDF file which will prompt you for the password to the file
  2. Enter the password and the prompt will let you know if the password is correct or incorrect
  3. If correct, once entered and verified, the PDF will open

Contact Us

If additional assistance is needed, please use the contact information listed below:

  • Staff and Faculty Help Desk
    Telephone: 951-827-4848

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Computing & Communications
Computing & Communications Bldg.

Tel: (951) 827-4741
Fax: (951) 827-4541