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Password protecting Office 2010 documents

Posted on 2013-01-24
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Last Modified: 2013-02-05
Hello,

Could someone give me some advice please...?

When you password protect an Office 2010 document I am given to understand that this encrypts the file.

How good is this protection?  How easily can it be cracked?  

If I was to send this password protected file via email or store in a public folder somewhere and it was intercepted by a hacker what are the chances that they could open it?

Many thanks

Mark
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Question by:Tea_Monkey
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6 Comments
 
LVL 13

Assisted Solution

by:Shanan212
Shanan212 earned 100 total points
ID: 38814542
Yes it does encrypts file. Read more about it here.

http://office.microsoft.com/en-001/help/password-protect-documents-workbooks-and-presentations-HA010148333.aspx

The file can be cracked by professional softwares. But a regular Joe wouldn't be able to do so. It depends on the importance of the file. As long as someone knows it has very sensitive information, they may attempt or ask other experts for advices of what software to use.

But a regular person won't be able to do it.
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LVL 7

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by:mmicha
mmicha earned 100 total points
ID: 38814560
I would not count on that encryption/protection.  There are products sold that can assist in recovering those files.

Just a quick search even shows youtube videos available to assist.  It's never been known as a very secure protection.

I'd look for a deeper solution if it is that important of data.  Maybe using PGP or another layer of encryption.
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LVL 33

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by:
Dave Howe earned 200 total points
ID: 38814630
The encryption in office is actually very good -there is *no known* way to break the password short of brute force. Professional software uses the "rainbow table" approach to attempt to compare a value looked up from a precalculated brute force attack to the encrypted file - if the original brute force attack contained the password, then it will return it (if the password wasn't in the original dictionary though, it comes back empty).

Provided you stick to non-dictionary passwords no shorter than 10 characters, with a mix of upper, lower, numbers, and symbols, you will be as secure as by any other method.
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LVL 19

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by:Kash
Kash earned 100 total points
ID: 38814703
office 2010 has better protection than 2007. 2007 can easily be cracked within minutes using software sold on the internet.

if you do have important data then a layer on top of the protection would help. i.e: PGP or i would ZIP it with password and encryption if you are really bothered
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LVL 33

Assisted Solution

by:Dave Howe
Dave Howe earned 200 total points
ID: 38814952
Answer to that is "it depends".

Office 2007 supported AES, provided you saved as a new-style -x file. older formatted files (so doc, xls etc) were encrypted with the RC4 protocol, which had noticeable weaknesses.

As you go back in time, you find RC4 (128 bit), RC4 (40 bit) and the Microsoft proprietary method which barely qualifies as better than ROT13, but given the queriant specified office 2010, I doubt that is an issue. :)
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Author Closing Comment

by:Tea_Monkey
ID: 38855577
Thanks for all the feedback, helpful and much appreciated
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