If your organization is powered by Microsoft Office products such as Microsoft Word and Excel, you may be content to use its built-in encryption software. After all, encryption is always just a keystroke or two away when using these products. However, all is not perfect in the world of built-in encryption software, and this is not one of those network security solutions you can count on.
The problem with using Microsoft Office’s built-in encryption tool is that you must rely on individual users to choose to use it. While it’s not overly difficult, it is yet another task that can make routine work cumbersome. Therefore, some users will opt not to do it. Others users will forget that they have the option to set up the encryption tool. This could cause a major security breach to valuable documents for an enterprise if they end up in the wrong hands.
Encrypting a Word document is easy but users don’t always make the best choices. To encrypt your word document follow these steps: Simply go to File and click on Protect Document. From there, you’ll need to enter a password. If you forget or lose this password, you’re out of luck. The password entry dialog box warns you of this and advises you to keep a list of your documents and their corresponding passwords. Making sure that when writing these passwords to put it in a safe place. Now, not only do your users need to enter the password each time they access a given document, the need to manage a bunch of passwords associated with various Word documents. This can lead to:
- Repeated use of weak passwords such as “123”
- Readily accessible lists of documents with the corresponding passwords
In either case, weak passwords can be cracked and a list of passwords posted by the computer simply renders encryption useless. If the same password is used continuously, once someone figures out the password to one document, all other encrypted documents using that same password are now vulnerable to a security breach.
While using Microsoft Word to encrypt the occasional document is fine and has its place, better network security solutions exist. Rather than relying on users to encrypt individual documents, consider comprehensive encryption software that encrypts and protects data in the background without relying on users to do it selectively. This will not only protect your documents but it’ll save users time by not having to remember to encrypt each individual document every time it’s created.
Daniel Gail is the author of thie article on “The Problem with Microsoft Office’s Built-in Encryption Software” and he’s also a columinst on the examiner where he enjoys sharing his knowledge on network security.. Follow him on twitter @wmcsocial for more updates and information on encryption solutions.