Why should businesses password protect their documents?

Young business team working on office desk with electronic devices.

Image credit: Adobe Stock MichaelJBerlin.

According to the recent 2022 Identity Theft Resource Center’s Annual Data Breach Report, 422.1 million people were victims of a data breach last year. This got us thinking: How many businesses have been at the forefront of these breaches, and what steps are they taking to protect their documents from being leaked?

We surveyed 556 business owners in the United States to determine what steps they take to prevent their internal documents from leaking or being breached. Are businesses really doing the most to protect their documents?

Key Findings:

Documents sharing across industries — what is being shared the most?

Businesses often share documents and PDFs without password-protecting them, leaving sensitive information vulnerable. We found that over 2 in 3 business owners admit to sharing business documents externally — only 63 percent password-protect those documents. Our findings also show that 1 in 10 large businesses have had their documents breached, compared to only 7 percent of small businesses.

Infograph of commonly shared buisness documents.

Overall, 55 percent of businesses share contracts internally — the Legal industry shares contracts the most, both internally (82 percent) and externally (85 percent).

Data reveals what information has been leaked from unprotected documents

In today's digital age, digital document sharing is inevitable. However, documents can easily be shared with the wrong person, resulting in potential data breaches or worse if the proper security measures aren't in place.

We found that the median revenue loss for those in the Financial/Economics industry that have reported a document breach is $125,000. Real Estate has a median $52,500 loss and Health has a median loss of $52,800. Businesses can minimize the risk of misuse or unauthorized access by using password-protected PDFs to ensure that all documents are securely shared.

Infograph of Prevalence of Document Breaches.

We also found that 55 percent of those who had documents leaked regularly shared contracts internally — 1 in 3 of those had employee salary information leaked.

Protecting your business by protecting your documents

So what are business owners doing to protect themselves from document breaches?

The top protection methods for businesses that have not had their documents breached are Password-Protecting Documents (61.60 percent), Restricted Access/Sharing (51.46 percent), and Multi-factor Authentication (42.50 percent).

Take a look at the top ways businesses are protecting their documents:

Infograph of Protecting your documents.

Surprisingly, 45 percent of Small Business Owners have caught current or previous employees leaking internal documents — over half of the large businesses have had employees (current or previous) leak documents.

Password-protecting documents is an important security measure for any business. It helps ensure that confidential and sensitive information is kept safe and secure. By password-protecting documents, such as PDFs, companies can prevent unauthorized access to their documents and help protect their data from those with malicious intent.

The importance of password-protecting your PDFs

With Adobe Acrobat, businesses can quickly and easily password-protect PDF documents. Acrobat provides a simple way to protect your documents, which is a step that can go a long way in maintaining the security of sensitive information. By setting a password, businesses can be sure that only authorized users can open the document, preventing unauthorized access.

Follow these easy steps to create a password-protected PDF using Adobe Acrobat Online:

  1. Once you are on the online tool, click the “Select a file” button or drag and drop a PDF into the drop zone on
  2. Enter a strong password, then retype it to confirm the password.
    Tip: Create a stronger password by increasing the length of the password and adding a mix of letters (both upper and lower case) and numbers. Adding symbols (such as !, ?, $) can also increase the password strength. It’s also best to avoid personal information or commonly guessed words.
  3. Click Set password.
  4. And that’s it! Now you have a password-protected PDF — download the password-protected PDF document, or sign in to share it.

PDF sharing in the workplace

Sharing PDFs in the workplace can be a great way to communicate and collaborate with colleagues. PDFs are a versatile and user-friendly format for sharing documents, images, and other content. PDFs are great for sharing information because they are easily editable and provide a consistent design for all users. PDFs can also be secured with passwords, ensuring only authorized individuals can access the information.

With Adobe Acrobat, businesses can be confident that their documents are secure when they’re shared internally and externally. By taking advantage of the powerful security features available in Adobe Acrobat, businesses can be sure that their data is protected and their confidential information remains secure at all times.


We conducted a survey of 556 American business owners defined as currently engaged in entrepreneurship, running their own business, or self-employed in their own incorporated or unincorporated business. This data was analyzed in January 2023.

About Adobe Acrobat:

Keep business moving with Adobe Acrobat. Whether working on a desktop, mobile, or the web, you have a complete set of tools to convert, edit, share, and sign PDFs — and more.

A tool like Adobe Acrobat makes it easy to convert documents to PDF. With the password-protected PDF function, you can quickly share your documents both internally/externally with ease of mind that only those intended to see it will have access.

Fair use statement:

Now that you know the importance of password-protecting your PDFs, feel free to share this data. We ask that you do so for non-commercial use and provide a link to this original study page, so the researchers are credited correctly.