Several Adobe senior executives told ZDNet Australia Westpac's bungle -- which saw annual results prematurely sent by e-mail to several financial analysts, forcing the bank to suspend trading in its shares and bring forward its results briefing -- could be Adobe's opportunity.
The vendor's Asia-Pacific senior marketing manager claimed if Westpac had e-mailed the document in Adobe PDF format with security options enabled, the recipients simply wouldn't have been able to view the document.
"It's a very low cost to avoid such a thing in future," said Mark Phibbs. "But you also have to change the policy within the bank, to say whatever you're sending outside the company, it has to be in this format."
"We're talking to Westpac about it at the moment. Our account managers are working on Westpac about what we might be able to offer, we think we've got the perfect solution for them."
A spokesperson from Westpac wouldn't confirm how effective Adobe's sales pitch had proven, reiterating the bank's statement to the Australian Stock Exchange following the disclosure that an internal review was being undertaken.
In a wider sense Phibbs believes Westpac's problem and another bungle during the last federal election by former Opposition Leader Mark Latham's media team are warning signs to businesses to start securing their electronic documents.
"I think the market is unaware of this [ability to secure documents]," he said. "It takes incidents like this Westpac thing, like the Latham thing, to raise public awareness of this."
Adobe says its solution can encrypt documents and require a user to undertake identity verification with an internal network server enforcing security policy before unveiling their contents.
The company's international director of product marketing for its Intelligent Document division -- in town to plug local rollouts of that same server and other electronic document management software -- said another problem with sending documents in user-modifiable formats like Microsoft Word or Excel was that they could easily be modified by the receiving party.
This could be a problem if those documents contained a legally binding contract, John Hogerland said.
"If you're going to publish a document for somebody and they're going to use it as the baseline for doing business with you, you don't want to allow them to change it."
"Because if you do, they could change the entire nature of the relationship," he added.
"This sort of thing comes up a lot when we're talking to lawyers, when we're talking to legal professionals," said Phibbs.