It's good that users are thinking of how to keep their files more secure. With Windows 7 Professional or Enterprise, file encryption is a simple process. The how-to below describes how to secure individual Microsoft Office documents or encrypt entire document folders. In a business environment, IT professionals may not prefer to let individual users make security decisions.
Q&A: File Encryption on Windows 7
At Citrix ShareFile, we manage and secure hundreds of thousands of business documents. We specialize in sharing files securely, encrypting email, protecting PII and maintaining compliance for regulated industries. When it comes to securing files, we've got answers.
Q. How do I encrypt a Microsoft Office document?
Click the File tab on the upper left of the screen. On the Info page, click Protect Document to open the dropdown menu. Choose Encrypt with Password. Create and enter your password. You will need to use that password next time you open the file.
Q. Once that's done, no one can access those files?
Not always. Copies of the file could still be in your temp folder. If you want to make sure they're secure, use Disk Cleanup to get rid of temporary files.
Q. What about encrypting a whole folder?
Microsoft uses Encrypting File System (EFS) to secure folders. Once again, right click on the folder. Choose Properties at the bottom of the pop-up menu. Click Advanced, on the bottom of the General tab.
Click Encrypt Contents by checking the box and clicking OK. Choose whether to simply encrypt the top folder, or all the subfolders and files as well. Click OK. EFS creates an authentication certificate that lets you access the file without a separate password.
Q. So can anyone who uses my computer access that folder?
No. The certificate recognizes your Windows log in. When you share your computer, each user has a different log in and sees a different desktop.
Q. Doesn't it make sense for everyone to encrypt all their files?
It's good that people want their files to be secure. But from a business perspective, it's probably safer to have everyone follow the same standard for securing their systems.
Q. Why is that safer?
Because a system or network can't be truly secured when individual users control whether or not to encrypt their files.
Plus every encryption certificate needs to be backed up. If a user procrastinates or forgets to back it up, and there's a hardware problem, you can't access your files.
Lastly, EFS was developed in 2000 and there has been a history of issues with vulnerabilities.
Q. So what do you suggest?
Honestly, digital document storage is the most secure business solution available. Everything's encrypted, including email. You can share huge files without flash drives or email attachments. Plus with ShareFile Sync, you can access any file, any where, on any device.
Instead of using Windows 7 for file encryption, sign up for a 30-day, free trial at ShareFile or call 1-800-441-3453. We'll answer any questions you have.