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Risk

8/6/2007
10:07 PM
Fredric Paul
Fredric Paul
Commentary
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PDFs: Not Mighty

I hate PDFs. Always have. Probably always will. Actually, I don't hate all PDFs. Printed-out PDFs are fine. Printing is what PDFs are for. But on the Web, PDFs are almost always a poor choice of format. I thought I was pretty much alone in my "PDFobia", but apparently I've got company. Chris Nerney at Datamation has his own reasons for despising them.

I hate PDFs. Always have. Probably always will.

Actually, I don't hate all PDFs. Printed-out PDFs are fine. Printing is what PDFs are for. But on the Web, PDFs are almost always a poor choice of format.

I thought I was pretty much alone in my "PDFobia", but apparently I've got company. Chris Nerney at Datamation has his own reasons for despising them.And Nerney has found a new reason, as well. PDFs are now being used for spam.

It seems that image-based spam was losing out to increasingly sophisticated anti-spam filters, so the evil spammers turned to PDFs, which most spam filters still can't read.

Volumes are still small compared to image spam, but PDFs could turn out to an even more pernicious menace. According to Network World, security experts say "proof-of-concept code exists that demonstrates security vulnerabilities in PDF files, which means PDF spam could carry malware that is secretly downloaded on the recipients PC."

Since small businesses don't want to be seen as malicious spammers, my advice is to stay away from PDFs unless you're creating a printable form or document. For Web pages and emails, use HTML instead. That's what it's for.

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