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Encrypting files

When and how to encrypt electronic documents.

Before sending or sharing confidential files, please make sure to protect them.

Password protecting Word and Excel documents

  1. Open the document you want to send
  2. Click the File menu and choose Save As
  3. Enter a new name for your document (so that you don’t password protect the original)
  4. Click the File menu again and choose Protect document – encrypt with password
  5. In the Password to Open field, type a password and click OK
  6. In the Re-enter Password to Open box retype the password and click OK

How to create strong passwords

  • It's important you use a complex but memorable password. You might wish to use online password management tools such as LastPass and 1Password
  • Consider using passwords of at least 16 characters

How to share a password to your protected file

Share the password by telephone if possible or at least in a separate email. Do not share the password in the same email to which the protected document is attached.

Encrypting files using 7Zip

To compress, encrypt and password protect files using 7-Zip follow these directions. 7-Zip only encrypts attachments it does not encrypt the content of your email.

  1. Go to the start menu and under programs find the 7-Zip folder and click on 7-Zip File Manager.
  2. You should get a window similar to that shown below. 7-Zip may not default to the folder that holds the files you wish to compress. If that is the case then you will need to go to the address bar and, either type in the directory you want or navigate through the directories by clicking on the down arrow at the right of the bar.
  3. When you have navigated to where the files you want to compress and encrypt are located you will need to select the files. If you want to include a number of files, click on the first file and, while holding down the Shift key, click on the last file in the group. All files in between will be highlighted. Alternatively hold down the Control key while clicking the files you want. Once you have chosen the files you wish to compress and encrypt click on the Add button which appears on the upper left of the window as a large, green plus sign. A dialog box will appear that looks like the image below.
    • See A in the screen shot below. Under “Archive:” you can name the file created through the compression/encryption process.
    • See B in the screen shot below. To the right of the text box under “Archive:” is a small box with three dots in it. If you click there you can choose the location of archive file created by 7-Zip.
    • See C in the screen shot below. To password protect the archive file created by 7-Zip you must choose a password and enter it twice in the text boxes beneath “Encryption.”
    • See D in the screen shot below. If you do not want people to see the names of the files in the archive before entering the password check off the check box “Encrypt file names.” If you do not check this off the file names will be visible before 7-Zip requests the password.
    • See E in the screen shot below. Then click the OK button. A new file with the name you chose on the Archive: line will appear in the directory you chose there as well. If you double click on the file, you will be prompted for the password.
  4. Sharing encrypted files: If you email an encrypted file or files, you should send the password in a separate email message or call the person with the password. Make sure that the encryption method shown in the dropdown menu is AES-256. Changes should not be made to this as this could place information at risk.

Diagram showing how to encrypt files

Criminal Justice Secure Mail (CJSM)

CJSM is a facility for secure exchange between local authorities, health and police as well as some Third Sector organisations within a Government Secure Community platform.

Where appropriate, MMU staff may be able to use CJSM to secure email between relevant secure partner networks e.g. with health service providers (using their @nhs.net address ONLY, NOT the local nhs.uk addresses); or with police’s @met.pnn.police.uk email address.

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