Nowadays, you can never be too careful. With cyber-attacks happening every 39 seconds, it seems like only a matter of when not if one might happen to you.
Cyber-attacks take many forms. Whether it’s threat actors launching a ransomware attack or harvesting your data, you never know how they may strike. That’s why it never hurts to use additional techniques to protect yourself.
One of the easiest is to password-protect your documents. Learn how to do this along with a few other essential data security tips below.
What Does it Mean to Password-Protect a File?
Password-protecting files is a great way to create a small additional layer of security for you. Generally, it involves setting a password that is required for anybody to open the file and edits its contents.
Nonetheless, if that doesn’t sound like a whole of protection, that’s because it isn’t. Password-protecting prevents someone from accidentally opening a file and making changes to it. That’s about it.
While it has gotten more secure over the last few years, clever hackers have plenty of ways to work around password-protected documents to access the data. While this should be sufficient enough to block the office snoop, you’ll likely want to go a few steps further with any data that’s important to you.
How To Password-Protect a Word Document
Password-protecting with Word is super simple. Open the app and select the document you want to protect. Next, follow these steps:
- Click Info
- Select Protect Document
- Click Encrypt with Password
- Set a password.
- You’ll then see a little note that the document is protected
- To open again, enter the password
One of the most important factors in security is how you create the passcode. So better make it both unique and complex.
These steps also work for Excel, PowerPoint, and other MS Office apps.
How to Add a Password to PDFs via Acrobat
Acrobat has a similar tool you can use to add passwords to PDF documents. Open the PDF, then follow these steps:
- Select Tools
- Click Protect > Encrypt > Encrypt with Password.
- Click Require a Password to Open the Document
- Enter a password
Adobe will show you how strong the password is on a strength meter on-screen. Similar to Office documents, use a complex, lengthy, and unique password.
What You Should Do to Really Improve Document Security
Password-protection is a nice option, but it really doesn’t give you the security you need. Instead of it, or in addition to password protection, you should use file encryption.
When you encrypt the file itself, it turns all the file data into an indecipherable code. That means hackers can’t bypass the password by looking at the core elements of the file because all the data will be coded. The fraudsters won’t even be able to see what type of file it is.
There are numerous benefits to this. First, you can encrypt any file and you don’t have to have Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat to be able to do it.
Secondly, with the right software, the data is so secure that even the NSA and a bunch of supercomputers could see what the files contain.
Plus, you can use additional tools to further increase your safety. For example, you can securely share the file and the password, set time limits on the file, and more. And there’s nothing stopping you from both encrypting the file and using password protection.
You can find many great options online for free encryption software as well. However, not all encryption software is equal, especially the free options.
When choosing between providers, be sure to pay attention to a few important details:
1. What type of encryption do they use?
The best free encryption software still uses the most advanced algorithms and protocols like AES256, Argon2, and ECC with XChaCha20. Even if you don’t understand what these things exactly mean, there are signs of a company that takes security seriously. Likewise, they should always use end-to-end encryption, which prevents your files from being intercepted during the encryption process.
2. Drag and Drop
Encrypting your files shouldn’t be a complicated process. Make sure they have easy-to-use apps that allow you to easily drag and drop files to your locker to encrypt all file types and sizes within a few short moments.
3. Additional Features
Encryption shouldn’t stop at your files. The best tools also will securely store your credit card information, auto-fill details, and notes to extend your security even further.
The Bottom Line
While password-protecting documents gives you a little more safety, you can do much better by using file encryption instead. Best of all, there are some great free encryption software options out there, so you have nothing to lose by using one of those options.