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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
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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.

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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.

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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

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  • 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 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 Turner Jul 15 '09 at 9:31
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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.

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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.

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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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