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Microsoft Excel 2003 Security and Privacy

Password-Protect an Excel 2003 Workbook

Summary: Help protect a Microsoft Excel 2003 from accidental reading or modification.

To help prevent unauthorized access, you can password protect a spreadsheet (workbook file) so that only certain people can read the information. You can also go one step further and password-protect the workbook against modifications, so that you can give some people read-only access to a workbook and others (maybe just yourself) read-write access.

Before protecting your workbooks, a couple of notes:

1. Before password-protecting a workbook, you may wish to consider creating a backup copy of the workbook that is not password-protected. That way, if you lose the password, it will be easier to recover the information.

2. Microsoft Excel supports several types of encryption settings, including Microsoft RSA SChannel with variable key lengths, Microsoft Enhanced RSA and AES, Microsoft Base DSS and Diffie-Hellman, and more. However, password protecting and encrypting a document does not 100% guarantee that the document cannot be unencrypted or the password hacked.

To password-protect the currently-open workbook:

1. Click "Tools" - "Options".

2. When the "Options" multi-tabbed dialog box appears, click the "Security" tab.

3. Next to "Password to open" enter the required password to open the current workbook. If you do not enter a password in the "Password to modify" section below, if someone enters the password they can read and modify the file. If you do enter a password in the "Password to modify" section below, entering this password only provides the user read-access to the workbook.

4. Click the "Advanced" button if you wish to change the encryption type.

5. To differentiate between a read-only and a read-write access level, enter a password next to "Password to modify". Now, if someone wants to modify a document, they must enter both passwords.

6. If desired, click "Read-only recommended". This will cause Excel 2003 to recommend, upon opening the document, that it should be opened in read-only mode.

7. Click "OK" to close the dialog boxes.

8. Resave the spreadsheet to apply your changes.

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Last Modified on: July 13, 2008, at 12:04 A.M. EDT

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