Sending Secure E-Mail And Attachments

Sending Secure E-Mail And Attachments

Sending information via e-mail or in attachments is quick and easy but is open to the risk that someone other than the intended recipient can intercept it. This can be a serious problem if the information contained within the attachment is sensitive or restricted (See ECSU Policy 700.2.4).

Microsoft Office programs, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, have the encryption feature which allows us to easily set a password to protect our Office documents. You can find this feature in the ECSU standard software MS Office 2016 (if you need 2016, submit a Helpdesk ticket at When you save your Word .docx, Excel .xlsx and PowerPoint .pptx and password protect the file, Office uses strong encryption (AES256). To help you keep the contents of your e-mails secure, you should password protect documents so they are encrypted and you can send them safely. You can then use the phone or fax to transmit your password to the email recipient. Texting or faxing is good to transmit the password as it avoids miscommunication of voice messages.

Password protecting a Word document

Microsoft Word allows you to apply a password to an individual file so that it can only be opened after the reader has entered the correct password.
To set a password on your Word, Excel or PowerPoint file click File > Info > Protect Document > Encrypt with Password. You'll be prompted to create a password, then to confirm it. After you've added a password to your file you'll want to be sure to save the file to make sure the password takes effect. Save your files with file extension .docx in Word, .xlsx in Excel, and .pptx in PowerPoint. Then attach it to your email.
Office 2016 (if you need 2016, submit a Helpdesk ticket at


Password Protecting a Word document screenshot

Use complex passwords

Be certain to choose a complex password – a passphrase that includes letters, numbers, and special characters is recommended and easy to remember. Here are examples:

Using complex passwords table

These passphrases are long, contain upper, lower, number, and special characters. They are easy to remember and hard to break. It can be fun to make up your own passphrases!

Remember – this is important:

Of course, you must remember your password or you will not be able to open your document. Keep your attachment passwords in a safe place.