[RndTbl] Is printing a pdf attached to an email safe?

Hartmut W Sager hwsager at marityme.net
Sun May 7 17:28:43 CDT 2023


For starters, the PDF to be printed has to land on your computer before it can be printed.  Either you are saving it explicitly, or a temporary ("hidden") copy is landing somewhere in your files/folders structure.

Now, a file saved on the computer cannot itself act virally, no matter how "infected" it is.  Its viral content needs to get executed somehow, and the many mechanisms to achieve that is a long story.

Next, you can't send a stored/saved PDF to a printer, because printers don't understand PDF.  So, you end up (either explicitly or by some automation) opening the PDF in a PDF reader/viewer like Adobe Acrobat Reader or a myriad of other readers/viewers, and from there, you get to print the PDF via the usual print options found in most software.

So, the only danger is in the reader/viewer software, that could potentially be tricked into executing the viral content in a PDF.  I'm not well-versed in the latest PDF standards, as to what forms of executable content they can handle, but that's where the only danger lies.  I expect that other folks here can enlighten us on that detail.


On Sun 07 May 2023 at 17:00:08 -05:00, eh at eduardhiebert.com wrote:
> Hi,
> Without opening a pdf, attached to an email but simply using my  
> computer's print option, is there still a risk of some kind of  
> infection?
> I ask as some time I asked the question whether opening a pdf could  
> compromise my computer and the best advise at the time was that it was  
> possible.
> Thanks,
> Eduard
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