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How to Keep Your Microsoft Word Documents Secure

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Saturday, June 7th, 2014


Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world. Although it was initially created for Microsoft based platforms, it was soon ported to other operating systems and devices. If you use MS Word on a daily basis then you must learn how to secure your Microsoft Word Documents so that they cannot be viewed or edited by others. This article will discuss few methods to enhance the security of Word documents.

1. Password Protect Word Documents

Using password protection is the easiest and most effective way of protecting a Word document. MS Word uses AES 128 bit encryption to secure documents which is quite secure and cannot be cracked even by advanced hacking tools. To password protect your document, simply click on File -> Info -> Protect Document and then select “Encrypt with Password” option. You need to type the password twice and then save the document for the changes to take effect. You must also remember that there is no way to recover your password or documents if you happen to forget or lose your password so you must use a password that you can easily remember.

2. Restrict Permission

Apart from password protecting your Word file, you can also restrict access to it so that it can be edited, copied and printed only by authorized personnel. MS Word makes it easy to restrict access through Windows Live ID or Information Rights Management plus it is also possible to apply restrictions through organizational templates. Click on File -> Info -> Protect Document and then on “Restrict Permissions by people” to restrict access to a document.

3. Restrict Editing

If you need to share documents with others then you can use editing restrictions to limit the type of changes that can be done to a document. Click on File -> Info -> Protect Document and then on “Restrict Editing” and then specify whether others can edit the document or make formatting changes. You can also specify a password here so that only authorized people can make changes to the document.

4. Use a Source Control Software

It is also advisable to use a source control software (such as Microsoft VSS) to define access control and manage multiple versions of a document. Source control softwares allow you to define clear roles for each user and also make it easy to revert to an earlier version of a document if the need arises. You can also enable the “Track Changes” option with Microsoft Word to keep track of the changes made by multiple people to the same document.

5. Add a Digital Signature

MS Word allows you to ensure document integrity with the help of a digital signature. You can add a visible or invisible digital signature to a Word document by clicking on File -> Info -> Protect Document and then on “Add a Digital Signature”.

6. Mark the Document Read-only

MS Word also makes it easy to make the document read-only so that it cannot be modified by others (including reviewers). To make a document read-only, click on File -> Info -> Protect Document and then on “Mark as Final”.

7. Use a Reliable Security Solution

There are many viruses and malwares that specifically target Word documents and MS Word software. To protect your files from such threats, it is advisable to install a reliable anti-virus and firewall solution on your system. Make sure that the anti-virus that you select can automatically scan the Word documents (as well as other types of files) that you receive through emails so that your system doesn’t get infected when you open the file.


June 7, 2014
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