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How good is Word's password protection?

I've seen some scattered info on SuperUser but nothing definitive. Does Office 2007's native document password protection system, assuming one uses a complex password, offer adequate protection for corporate documents?

Thank you.

(I am aware of 7z, but the suits are reluctant to "complicate" matters...)

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marked as duplicate by Nifle, BinaryMisfit Nov 1 '10 at 9:44

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

Read that yourself and you'll see why I went ahead and asked here. Mehper has rewarded my initiative. – Andrew Heath Nov 1 '10 at 9:00
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Microsoft Office 2007 uses 128 bit AES for password encryption. In 2003, the US Government announced that the AES encryption algorithm may be used for classified information. This is specified in The National Policy on the use of the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) to Protect National Security Systems and National Security Information (CNSSP-15).

CNSSP-15 states that AES with either 128 or 256-bit keys are sufficient to protect classified information up to the SECRET level. Protecting TOP SECRET information would require the use of 256-bit AES keys as well as numerous other controls on manufacture, handling and keying. These same key sizes are suitable for protecting both national security and non-national security related information throughout the US Government.(, see also AES in wikipedia)

Word 2007 by default uses AES 128 bit strong encryption. Also, if you open a document created in the older versions of office (2002, 2003) in Office 2007 with the default encryption mode, the old encryption algorithm will be replaced with the strong 128-bit encryption. It’s even possible to use 256-bit encryption.

This means that Office 2007 encryption can be used for top secret information as far as the encryption algorithm is concerned, but the password strength is just as important.

Please read the related article for more information.

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