Ways to password-protect sensitive emailed documents

Apr 24, 2021, 5:00 AM
(Pexels Photo)...
(Pexels Photo)
(Pexels Photo)

Q: What’s the best way to protect documents with sensitive information that I have to send via email?

A: There was a time when the fax machine was a simple way to transmit sensitive information from one party to another with very little risk beyond sending it to the wrong number.

These days, you’ll often be asked to use email to transmit sensitive information, which requires a little more thought before doing so.

Email used to be very risky, because intermediaries could easily view messages, but with the implementation of encryption for most email systems, it’s a little more secure.

Even with this added layer of security, the best way to protect any document you have to send is to create a password to control both access and in some cases, ensuring the document can’t be changed.

Microsoft Word options

Since Word is the de facto standard for the business world, knowing how to protect the documents you create is essential.

Different versions of Word use a slightly different way to access the tool, so if you search your Help menu for “Protect document,” the specific instructions for your version will appear.

There are four options for password protecting your documents: Track changes, Comments, Filling in forms and Read only.

Track changes works great when your document is going to be reviewed or edited by others, as the changes are tracked by color for each person.

Comments will allow others to insert comments but not modify the actual document.

Filling in forms allows others to input data in the form fields but not change the actual form itself.

Read only completely protects the document from any changes or comments.

Once you choose your protection type, you’ll create a password that will be required to open the document.

PDF options

If you’re going to be sending a PDF file, protecting it with a password can be done in a number of ways.
If you have Adobe’s Acrobat Pro, clicking on File -> Protect Using Password will get the job done, but it isn’t necessary to purchase this expensive program to do so.

Windows users can use the free PDFEncrypt), which is an open source utility for those that like to tinker with code.

If you’re using a Mac, the built-in preview program will allow you to export the file and add the encryption/password to protect it.

To do this, open the PDF file using Apple’s preview program and go to the File menu and select “Export.” When the save menu comes up, click on the “Encrypt” box to create a password before saving the file.

Password management

It’s very important that you keep track of the passwords you create for your documents, as there’s no simple way to get into the file if you forget them.

Another important thing to think about is a secure way of providing the password to those that you send the file to, as you don’t want to include the password with the email that contains the file.

The best option will incorporate a completely different communication channel, such as a text message or phone call to the person.

Data Doctors

(Pexels Photo)...
Ken Colburn, Data Doctors

What to know about the Marco Polo video chat app

The Marco Polo app is a video chat program that’s like a walkie-talkie conversation instead of a live session.
7 days ago
Ken Colburn, Data Doctors

Here are some tips on how to speed up slow starting computers

Here are some ways you can identify and solve potential issues that may be causing your computer to start up slower than normal.
14 days ago
(AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)...
Data Doctors

An explanation of how new credit cards have information stolen

If you've ever wondered how people can crack a new credit card, here's a rundown and a brief explanation on what thieves could be doing.
21 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Ken Colburn, Data Doctors

Here are the differences between Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge

Half of the United States uses Google Chrome as a default browser, but here are the key differences between Chrome and Microsoft Edge.
28 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Data Doctors

Tips on how and when to use the iPhone screen recording feature

Here are some tips on when and how to use the the screen recording feature located on the dropdown bar on your iPhone.
1 month ago
In this photo illustration a spam 'Phishing' email is displayed on a laptop screen on March 21,2022...
Data Doctors

Tips and tools to detect and avoid computer phishing scams

Far and away, the method of choice for compromising users is through sophisticated phishing messages in email, via text messaging and through social media accounts.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
Ways to password-protect sensitive emailed documents