Encrypting files prior to sharing

How do I encrypt any files I intend to share with others?


Click below to jump to the appropriate section, depending on the kind of files you wish to encrypt:
- Adobe PDF files...
- Microsoft Word files...
- Microsoft Excel files...
- ZIP files...

How-To Article Reference: ITSEC010

Adobe PDF files

Requirements: Adobe Acrobat Pro DC (Available from Software Center)

1. Open Adobe Acrobat Pro DC from your start menu.
2. Click the "Tools" tab toward the top-left of the window.
3. Under "Protect & Standardize", select "Protect". 
4. You are asked to "Open a file to enable more tools". Click the "Select a File" button, and select the file you wish to encrypt.
5. Your file opens as normal, but now you have a new toolbar across the top of the screen labelled "Protect", alongside a number of other buttons. Click "Encrypt", and "Encrypt with Password...". 
6. You are asked if you are sure you wish to change the security on this document. Confirm by clicking "Yes".
7. The "Password Security - Settings" window opens. Tick "Require a password to open the document", and enter the password you wish to use to encrypt your file, and confirm that password once more. 

Important: When choosing your password, please follow these guidelines.

8. When you have chosen a password, click the "OK" button. You'll receive a warning saying "Security settings will not be applied to the document until you save the document. Click "OK" to confirm. 
9. At this point, you may wish to save a copy unless you wish to work with a password in future. If so, please click "File" at the top-left of your Adobe Acrobat window, and click "Save-As...", saving a copy with the filename ending 'secured', so a file named "important dates.pdf" has a copy called "important dates secured.pdf" so you can tell the difference between the two. When sending this to a contact, always send the file with the 'secured' suffix.

Important: Send the password via a different method of communication such as by phone as including both the encrypted file and the password in the same email is just like sending a portable safe with vaulables contained within, with its key in the same package, rendering that security useless.

Microsoft Word files

1. Open Microsoft Word, and open the file you wish to secure.
2. Click "File", "Protect Document", and then "Encrypt with Password". 
3. Enter the password you wish to use to encrypt your file, and confirm that password once more.

Important: When choosing your password, please follow these guidelines.

4. When you have chosen a password, click the "OK" button.
5. At this point, you may wish to save a copy unless you wish to work with a password in future. If so, please click "Save As", saving a copy with the filename ending 'secured', so a file named "research.docx" has a copy called "research secured.docx" so you can tell the difference between the two. When sending this to a contact, always send the file with the 'secured' suffix.

Important: Send the password via a different method of communication such as by phone as including both the encrypted file and the password in the same email is just like sending a portable safe with vaulables contained within, with its key in the same package, rendering that security useless.

Microsoft Excel files

1. Open Microsoft Excel, and open the file you wish to secure.
2. Click "File", "Protect Document", and then "Encrypt with Password". 
3. Enter the password you wish to use to encrypt your file, and confirm that password once more.

Important: When choosing your password, please follow these guidelines.

4. When you have chosen a password, click the "OK" button.
5. At this point, you may wish to save a copy unless you wish to work with a password in future. If so, please click "Save As", saving a copy with the filename ending 'secured', so a file named "weather figures.xlsx" has a copy called "weather figures secured.xlsx" so you can tell the difference between the two. When sending this to a contact, always send the file with the 'secured' suffix.

Important: Send the password via a different method of communication such as by phone as including both the encrypted file and the password in the same email is just like sending a portable safe with vaulables contained within, with its key in the same package, rendering that security useless.

ZIP files

Unlike the other examples on this page, ZIP files allow you to compress multiple files, and secure that with a password. If someone knows the password, they can access the files within. Also unlike the above, this does not encrypt the individual files, and in possession of the password for the ZIP file the user can access the files within without a password for the individual files unless you also secure them in the same or similar way to the above. 

1. Select the files you wish to compress and add a password to, and right-click, go to 7-Zip, then "Add to Archive...". 
2. Change "Archive format" to "zip". 
3. Check the file name shown next to "Archive" and the directory it will save to is correct, changing if neccessary.
4. In the bottom-right quarter of the window, you can see the option for encryption. Enter the password you wish to use to encrypt your file, and confirm that password in the "Reenter password" box.

Important: When choosing your password, please follow these guidelines.

5. Change "Encryption method" to "AES-256". This encryption method is much stronger than the default "ZipCrypto". 
6. Click "OK".
7. After some time depending on the size of the files you are compressing, you will have a new ZIP archive in the location you specified, and with the desired nameyou specified in step 3.

Important: Send the password via a different method of communication such as by phone as including both the encrypted file and the password in the same email is just like sending a portable safe with vaulables contained within, with its key in the same package, rendering that security useless.