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If you haven't seen the show Alias, I highly recommend it. My fiancée [formerly referred to as my girlfriend…picture from the big day below J] and I are about half way through the first season, and it's so good that I've decided to become an operative for the CIA.
Not really. But it did inspire me to write this post about how you can be like a super secret CIA agent and encrypt documents using Word 2007.
For a bit of background—and so you can sound even smarter at your next dinner party—document encryption is a type of cryptography in which your document is transformed into an unreadable state by using an algorithm [called a cipher] until it is decrypted using a password.
And even if you aren't a double agent trying to avenge the death of your fiancé [Alias allusion that hits home given my recent engagement], you may find encryption useful. Specifically, if you have ever worried about a document getting in the wrong hands—including, but not limited to, a rouge CIA group profiting off of the world's misery [Alias allusion]—a great way to avoid a security breach is to click the Office Button (the orb in the upper left hand corner of Word 2007), click Prepare, click Encrypt Document, and enter your password.
Now, even if the bad guys get their grimy hands on your document, they will have a heck of a time opening it without your password. And that's even if they have a super smart tech guy like Marshall Flinkman [Alias allusion], because your document is protected using U.S. government standard 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).
Note: Everyone—not just counter-spies—will have a hard time opening your encrypted document without the password. So don't forget your password. You'd be surprised how many support calls we get on this.
If you'd like to learn more about Office's encryption and related features, one of Office's crypto experts David LeBlanc recently posted all sorts of detailed goodness.
And, here's the picture I promised earlier…I'm the one on the right…we're in front of my fiancée's childhood home. Good times.
Congratulations. And thanks for the link. Am checking it out.
Good article--interesting read. There are a couple of things I am curious about though, and he doesn't have anonymous comments, so I'm just asking here. Maybe you or someone else can answer. 1. Can Office crypto hook into an organisation-wide crypto framework, where each employee might have his/her own digital certificate and workflow processes and document sharing might involve automatic crypto?* Maybe not within your power to influence, but I'll just say that if Microsoft Office supports (or even better, includes) a well-designed organisation-wide crypto framework (e.g. like Computer Associates), it'd be a huge sell. * Similar to the open source world, where project members send each other patches signed with PGP/GPG. Of course, it's a peer-to-peer network of trust. But it works pretty well. 2. Does Office crypto support biometric security features from hardware? Maybe as first/second alternatives to passwords. A lot of laptops nowadays are coming with at least rudimentary fingerprint scanners and face recognition. I know I'd jump at the chance to have my Word documents recognise my fingerprint or face, if I needed to encrypt a document, instead of having to remember another password. Thanks again for the interesting read.
Hey, thanks for the tip. Congrats on your engagement too!
Hi Yawar – I chatted with our resident crypto experts and in response to your great comment: 1. This is certainly an interesting scenario that we're looking into 2. We’ve been looking into biometric security features, but have generally found that most biometrics provide very little real security -Jonathan (MS)
First up, Congratulations! You both make a beautiful couple :)Wish you a great life together. Thanks for the tip, I was having a difficult time trying to figure out how to lock my word doc, as in the previous 2003 version. This works better than locking, kind of a tease to the person trying to get his/her hands on someone else's info. Thanks again, and Best of Luck
"a super secret CIA agent" is a little exaggerated, but this is exactly what I need - for Office 2003. Could you post a little how to on this? Thanks
wowo .. this is excellent tips for the beginner user that using microsoft office