Keep Your CAD Files Secure With These Simple Tips

Updated Apr 12, 2017
Keep your CAD files secure

In this day and age, security is a pressing issue for multinational companies and individuals alike. Security issues are, sadly, ubiquitous nowadays, and virtually everyone will know someone who has had to deal with viruses, malware, and even fraud (if they haven’t gone through it themselves). Security is particularly crucial for CAD users, as they will often have to deal with files whose intellectual property must be protected—be it to prevent plagiarism or to stop the leaking of private information. Luckily, there are ways to keep your CAD files secure.

Why Do I Need to Secure My Files?

Whether you’re a professional or a hobbyist, you need to secure your CAD files. Keeping control over your intellectual property is vital—if someone gains access your files, they could modify them and publish them as their own, with the potential to sink your business. Unfortunately, security threats are rife, due to the proliferation of malware. There’s also a worry nowadays over the security of cloud storage, particularly with the rise of cloud-based CAD software.

With so many potential issues, it’s crucially important to take steps to keep your CAD files secure from any possible threat. Read on to learn about the steps you can take to keep your files safe.

Tip: Before securing your CAD files with the steps below, manage them first to avoid any human error.

Manual Steps

These steps are particularly vital when you’re collaborating or sharing with a third-party. You don’t want to risk the possibility of someone plagiarising or modifying your work without permission.

Password Protect Your Files

This is a great option no matter what software or file type you use. Most CAD programs allow users to secure their CAD files with a password, meaning that unauthorised users won’t be able to access them. AutoCAD, for example, includes this option, so you can keep your DWG files secure. Another option is to place your files in a compressed zip file. You can password-protect zips quickly and easily on both Mac OSX and Windows.

Keeping your files password-protected means that you have control over who views your files.

screenshot of autocad password

Convert Your CAD Files

dxf-pdf-layersSometimes, your workflow will involve sending your CAD drawings to a collaborator. Even if you are keeping your files secure, there’s no guarantee that everyone else will be doing the same. If you’re wary about the security risks of sharing your CAD files, then consider converting them to PDF which can be easily password protected ensuring that only users you authorize will be able to edit the original copy.

Unlike some vector file formats, PDFs can contain both raster and vector elements so they are a popular choice when sharing files with colleagues. Want to know more? Take a look at PDF conversion with Scan2CAD.

Back Up Your Files

If the worst does happen and your PC gets hit by a nasty piece of malware, you could be at risk of losing all of your files, and with them, years of work. We can’t stress this enough: back up your files. There are a wide range of solutions available, from cloud storage to memory cards and flash drives. CAD industry leaders Autodesk and Onshape also offer backups and extra high quality security.

Software-specific Security Solutions:

CAD software leaders have made it a priority to offer high security to their users. Some offer similar solutions to the ones above; giving users extra file security. The cloud-based CAD applications offer high security in the form of firewalls and threat protection.

autodesk vault's logoAutodesk Vault

Autodesk Vault allows for collaboration and sharing, but also ensures security for your CAD files. It can place user-based permissions on each file, and if you require it, can manage users through Windows security authentication. You can also restrict user access by files or folders, allowing you to completely secure your CAD files.

onshape logoOnshape

Whilst some may be wary of entrusting their private files to cloud-based applications, Onshape combines the universal access of the cloud with high levels of security. They offer users the ability to protect their login and their data via a One Time Password (OTP). This app will generate a random code every 30 seconds, which you will be asked for when you log in. This way, no one will be able to access your files even if they have your login details.

dwg lock logoAutoDWG Lock

If you’re working with DWG files, and don’t want to fork out for more software, try out this free application.

DWGLock can protect your drawing files from being modified or copied without your permission. It’s a standalone application that doesn’t require AutoCAD. Users can add passwords alongside the encryption offered. It supports AutoCAD drawings from R2.9 to 2016.

Of course, you can also securely share your CAD files using general cloud file storage solutions such as Box and DropBox.  Dropbox allows you to share folders with specific users or ‘teams’ who will need to login to view your files.

Remember, cloud solutions are only ever as secure as your password, so keep them cryptic and secret!

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