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Rudy Redline
Rudy Redline

How Adobe PDF Reader’s New Sandbox Feature Will Enhance Security

How Adobe PDF Readers New Sandbox Feature Will Enhance Security

Adobe PDF Reader is one of the most popular and widely used software for viewing, editing, and creating PDF documents. However, it also faces many security challenges and threats from malicious hackers who exploit vulnerabilities in the software to launch attacks on users systems.

How Adobe PDF Reader’s New Sandbox Feature Will Enhance Security

To address these security issues, Adobe has introduced a new feature called Sandbox in its latest version of Acrobat Pro 2020 and Acrobat Standard 2020. This feature is a core architecture change that covers all the features and workflows in Acrobat. It is designed to isolate potentially malicious operations from the rest of the system and prevent them from accessing sensitive data or resources.

What is a Sandbox?

A sandbox is a security mechanism that creates a restricted environment for running untrusted or unknown code or data. With sandboxing enabled, Acrobat and Reader assume all PDFs are potentially malicious and confines any processing they invoke to the sandbox. The sandbox prevents the PDF from accessing any files, registry keys, network resources, or other processes outside the sandbox. This way, even if the PDF contains malicious code, it cannot harm the users system or data.

How to Enable Sandbox in Acrobat?

By default, the Sandbox feature is turned off in Acrobat Pro 2020 and Acrobat Standard 2020. To enable it, follow these steps:

  • On the menu, go to Edit > Preferences.

  • From the Categories, click Security (Enhanced), and then select Enable Protected Mode at Startup (Preview).

  • Quit Acrobat and relaunch.

You can also verify that Sandbox is enabled by opening Windows Task Manager. If you see two instances of Acrobat.exe, then Protected Mode (Sandbox) is enabled for Acrobat.

What are the Benefits of Sandbox?

The Sandbox feature provides several benefits for enhancing the security of Acrobat and Reader users. Some of them are:

  • It reduces the attack surface by limiting the access of PDFs to system resources.

  • It mitigates the impact of exploits by containing them within the sandbox.

  • It protects user data and privacy by preventing unauthorized access or leakage.

  • It improves user experience by reducing crashes and errors caused by malicious PDFs.


The Sandbox feature is a significant improvement in the security of Adobe PDF Reader. It protects users from various types of attacks that exploit vulnerabilities in the software or in the PDF format. By enabling this feature, users can enjoy a safer and more reliable experience with PDF documents.

What are the Challenges of Sandbox?

While the Sandbox feature is a great security enhancement, it also poses some challenges and limitations for Acrobat and Reader users. Some of them are:

  • It may affect the performance or functionality of some features or workflows that require access to system resources.

  • It may cause compatibility issues with some third-party plugins or applications that interact with Acrobat or Reader.

  • It may require user intervention or configuration to trust certain PDFs or locations that are safe and need access to system resources.

To overcome these challenges, Adobe provides various options and settings for users to customize and manage the Sandbox feature according to their needs and preferences. Users can also refer to the documentation and FAQs provided by Adobe for more information and guidance on using the Sandbox feature.

What are the Alternatives to Sandbox?

If users do not want to use the Sandbox feature or encounter problems with it, they can also use other security features or solutions provided by Adobe or other vendors. Some of them are:

  • Enhanced Security: This feature allows users to control the access of PDFs to internet resources and privileged locations. It also enables certificate-based trust management for PDFs.

  • Certified Documents: This feature allows users to verify the authenticity and integrity of PDFs that are digitally signed by trusted authors or publishers.

  • MIP-Protected PDFs: This feature allows users to open files protected with Microsoft Information Protection (MIP) solutions, such as Azure Information Protection (AIP) and Information Protection using Office 365.

  • Antivirus Software: This software allows users to scan and remove any malware or viruses that may be embedded in PDFs or other files.

Users can also follow some best practices and tips to enhance their security when using Acrobat or Reader, such as keeping the software updated, avoiding opening suspicious or unknown PDFs, and backing up their data regularly. 04f6b60f66


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