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  1. #1
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    Encryption/pasword options (Windows 7 Home Premium, Office 2010)

    I'm trying to find a simple way of securing a few files from prying eyes. I've read this thread, which I found very interesting, but am starting to wonder whether encryption is over-the-top for my needs. If my laptop is stolen, I imagine the first thing they'd do is format the drive, which will destroy my secret information anyway. And I have good firewall/virus protection, so nobody's going to be able to remotely access the files (says he, hopefully). So, I'm not totally sure what I'm guarding against, but whatever it is is probably fairly unlikely and probably not a highly skilled intrusion.

    So, I thought, why not just save these important Word/Excel/etc files with a strong password. But, I've heard horror stories about those being easy to crack. Or maybe 7-zip it with a password.

    Does anyone have any thoughts on the issue? Or, perhaps links to useful resources?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Deadeye81's Avatar
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    Hi David,

    Laptops are more vulnerable to theft than are desktops for obvious reasons. Any unprotected information on your laptop can prove costly, and can ultimately lead to identity theft. I find that using a simple encryption program to encrypt a few sensitive files provides a stumbling block to those that might look at my personal files should they come into possession of my laptop. And you cannot depend on a laptop thief to format the hard drive before thoroughly searching through the files.

    The little time it takes to encrypt/decrypt is well worth it in my opinion. That is why I have tried and settled on some of the software mentioned in the other thread you referenced.

    Hope this helps.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the ideas. Do you have an opinion on the security of Word/Excel passwords? I must admit that I don't really understand what the difference between an encrypted file and a passworded file is. Presumably Word passwords (for example) involve some level of encryption. And what about a product like 7-zip? Any thoughts you have would be much appreciated.

  4. #4
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    Should you decide to take Deadeye's suggestion and use encryption, I'd highly recommend using TrueCrypt to encrypt either a group of sensitive files or the entire hard disk drive.

    One advantage of using a program like TrueCrypt over a 7-zip archive is that files in an archive have to be decrypted onto the disk before using, but TrueCrypt uses on-the-fly encryption / decryption so the unencrypted files are never put onto physical media.

    Another advantage is ease of use. Once a TrueCrypt volume is loaded, it's assigned a drive letter like Z:, then the Z: disk shows up as another hard drive in Explorer. The files can be accessed normally from any program, and new files saved to the volume are automatically encrypted.

    I've used TrueCrypt for years to secure my personal and financial files. I set up a 250MB volume which now contains over 2000 files. I can't imagine the effort to update and maintain a 7-zip archive with thousands of files, but it would not be as easy as using a TrueCrypt volume.
    PJ in FL

  5. #5
    Super Moderator Deadeye81's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Paul View Post
    Thanks for the ideas. Do you have an opinion on the security of Word/Excel passwords? I must admit that I don't really understand what the difference between an encrypted file and a passworded file is. Presumably Word passwords (for example) involve some level of encryption. And what about a product like 7-zip? Any thoughts you have would be much appreciated.
    pjustice57 has some very good points about TrueCrypt. When I had a large volume of data to keep secure, TrueCrypt was the tool I used. If my sensitive data volume was as large now as it was then, I would still be using TrueCrypt.

    As far as the security of Word/Excel passwords, you might want to post a thread in the Microsoft Word or Excel forum specifically about that topic. There are several Loungers there that are very knowledgeable about MS Office apps who could better answer your question on that topic.

  6. #6
    Super Moderator BATcher's Avatar
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    The difficulty of decrypting Office files has increased with each new version. Office 97 files could be decrypted in seconds, but if you have a newer version with a non-dictionary password, that's pretty safe.

    Try Googling for something like "Office password cracking" to see just how much people want for such software, and just how long it might take...
    BATcher

    Time prevents everything happening all at once...

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