Microsoft Excel is a powerful spreadsheet application that many people use to often record sensitive information such as personal or financial data. Microsoft Excel includes an integrated feature to allow you to protect and secure an Excel file with a password. The entire Microsoft Office suite has a password protection tool you can use to secure your Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, and so on. Excel password protection is very easy to use.
Follow these steps to secure an Excel file using the excel password protection feature.
How to use the Excel password protection feature
In Excel, head to File > Info. Select Protect Workbook, then Encrypt with Password from the dropdown menu.
Now, enter a secure password for your Excel spreadsheet. Ensure your password is strong and unique, press OK, then re-enter your password to confirm.
How Secure Is Microsoft Office Password Protection?
Microsoft Office 97-2003 used a very poor encryption standard, known as RC4. The older encryption algorithm has numerous vulnerabilities, which makes cracking the password on an older Excel document incredibly easy.
Microsoft Office 2007-2013 saw an upgraded encryption algorithm, switching to the much stronger AES-128 algorithm. Office 2016-2019 uses the AES-256 encryption algorithm, which is unbreakable within a reasonable timeframe using existing technology.
Extra Excel Protections
Microsoft Excel has a few extra security features, too:
- Mark as Final: Marks the file as complete, which informs other users of the spreadsheet that they should not make any changes. However, marking a spreadsheet as final does not provide any additional password protection.
- Protect Current Sheet: You can add a small additional layer of protection to a specific spreadsheet within your workbook when you password protect an Excel sheet. People with access to the Excel file can still see the spreadsheet but cannot make any changes without the correct password. You can use a different password for this option, too.
- Restrict Access: An option large organizations can use to restrict access to certain individuals using security templates or other identifiers.
- Add a Digital Signature: The digital signature option verifies that the file remains untampered between the sender and recipient, ensuring the content is the same.
You might use a combination of additional security features alongside the Excel password protection option, especially if you’re sharing an Excel spreadsheet.