I have a password protected MS-Word 2007 file that needs to stay private. How good is Word's protection? If it's not very good, can you suggest a better method for keeping the file protected?

EDIT: my goal is to send the protected file to a recipient (who knows the password). I assume this recipient knows nothing about encryption/decryption, but if I absolutely have to, I'll encrypt the file and painstakingly teach the recipient how to decrypt it.

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    What version of word? – Andrew Cox Jul 15 '09 at 9:00
  • Also, how much it needs to stay private? How much is worth the secret? $100? $100 000 000? – Tadeusz A. Kadłubowski Jul 15 '09 at 9:03

Judging from the results of a search for "break microsoft word password", it is not so secure. If you really need to keep it secret, then encrypt the file.


You could use 7z to compress and encrypt the file. It uses AES-256 which is the same encryption standard used by the US government.

Another option is to use an email service that offers PKI secured e-mail. You and your recipient would both need accounts.


It's not good, unless you're on the latest office release (Office 2007 or newer)

I suggest you look at GNU Privacy Guard / Gpg4Win or if you're storing the data on a usb flash drive check out TrueCrypt

  • If the odds are stacked against the newest MS Office release, then it shouldn't be recommended too. There are enough algorithms that stood scrutiny of mathematicians. – Tadeusz A. Kadłubowski Jul 15 '09 at 9:09
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    Considering the latest office incantation uses 128 bit AES and SHA-1.. its not like there are any widely known methods for decryption of passwords for the latest office release. – Mark Amerine Turner Jul 15 '09 at 9:30
  • I went ahead and removed the concern over the latest office version getting cracked. It was confusing and completely unlikely. – Mark Amerine Turner Jul 15 '09 at 9:31

If you don't trust Word, you could create an encrypted file container using TrueCrypt. There's a good tutorial which explains how to do this.


One should prefer methods that were thoroughly examined by mathematicians and computer scientists. It was one of the arguments against accepting Office Open XML document format as an international standard.


On older versions of Word, it was like putting a cheap bicycle lock on the handle bars. It was easy to crack, and didn't really make it difficult to read the file. You could open the file in a hex editor, and read most, if not all, of the data fairly easily.

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