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Mon, Aug 11, 2008 7:03 pm

Excel Password Protection

For encrypting Excel workbooks with a password, use the following technique. Note: these steps apply to Office 2003 and 2007; for other versions the exact steps may vary.
  1. From the Excel menu select "File" or, if you are using Office 2007, click on the Office Button at the top left corner of the Excel window.
  2. Select "Save As"
  3. From the "Save As" window, select "Tools"
  4. Select "General Options"
  5. Specify a "Password to open"
  6. Click on "OK" to save the file.
A password is now required to open and view the file.

[/os/windows/office/excel] permanent link

Mon, Aug 11, 2008 6:33 pm

Password Protecting a PDF File in Adobe Acrobat

Acrobat supports public/private key encryption, but if you don't have a security certificate for another party to whom you are going to provide the encrypted document, then you need to use the "shared secret", i.e. password, approach for encrypting a PDF file where you specify a password for the document and give that password to the other party by some means other than email, e.g. by phone.

You can use the method outlined by Adobe in Set passwords for PDFs to password protect PDF files that you will then email to others.

The article mentions that PDF documents can have two types of passwords:

  1. User, aka "document open", password
  2. Pemissions, aka "master", password, which provides access controls for the PDF document

To keep unauthorized individuals from viewing a PDF file, employ a "user" password. The other type of password, which you might also want to use in some cases, controls what recipients can do with a document.

Note: there are low-cost tools readily available online to remove that type of password from a PDF file. There are also low-cost programs readily available to defeat the first type of password unless you pick a strong password, i.e. one that is not a dictionary word, car name, sports team, person's name, etc. There are plenty of password dictionaries available to allow people to crack weak passwords. Any password protection scheme is virtually worthless, if someone picks a weak password. A strong password should have at least 8 characters with a combination of characters from at least 3 character sets. Character sets include those below:

  1. Upper case letters
  2. Lower case letters
  3. Numbers
  4. Special characters, such as "!", "-", "_", "$", etc.

Open the file you want to protect in Adobe Acrobat and follow the instructions below for encrypting and password protecting the file.

  1. Click the secure button in the Tasks toolbar and choose Password Encrypt.
  2. Click on Yes when prompted "Are you sure you want to change the security on this document?" If necessary, type the Permissions password that lets you change security settings. If you don't know the password, contact the author of the PDF file.
  3. In the Password Security - Settings dialog box set the security options as desired. For the Compatibility setting, "Acrobat 5.0 or later" is the default option. That will provde 128-bit RC4 encryption. Selecting "Acrobat 3.0 or later", instead, will mean that users of older versions of Acrobat will be able to open the file, if they know the password, but I would strongly advise against choosing that option, if you need to guarantee that only someone who has been given the password can open it. If that option is selected, a 40-bit encryption scheme is used instead of 128-bit encryption. Even with a strong password, if you use 40-bit encryption, there are plenty of low-cost programs available online for anyone to easily break the password protection. With 128-bit protection, you can be confident that the protection will likely remain unbreakable for years to come (eventually increases in computing speeds, or the development of quantum computers, will likely render even that level of encryption breakable).
  4. Specify a password, click OK and then OK again.
  5. Save the file

Note: these instructions were written specifically for Adobe Acrobat 8 Standard edition, but will likely be similar for other versions.

[/os/windows/software/pdf] permanent link

Mon, Aug 11, 2008 3:01 pm

Windows Defender Detected Activity Monitor File

I performed a full scan of my HP laptop with Windows Defender after updating its definitions today to definition version: created on 8/7/2008 at 4:00 AM.

Windows Defender Version:  1.1.1593.0
Engine Version: 1.1.3807.0
Definition Version:

Windows Defender found two items it gave a "medium" alert level. I instructed it to ignore both, since they were false positives. The first was for a download of the Activity Monitor program, which is in a "downloads" folder, but isn't installed on the system. The second occurred because SpySweeper updated the C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc\hosts file on 12/18/2006 to block nefarious sites.

NameAlert level


Monitoring Software

This program monitors user activity, such as keystrokes typed.

Review the alert details to see why the software was detected. If you do not like how the software operates or if you do not recognize and trust the publisher, consider blocking or removing the software.

C:\Documents and Settings\JDoe\My Documents\Downloads\>amagent39.exe

C:\Documents and Settings\JDoe\My Documents\Downloads\

View more information about this item online


Settings Modifier

This program has potentially unwanted behavior.

Review the alert details to see why the software was detected. If you do not like how the software operates or if you do not recognize and trust the publisher, consider blocking or removing the software.


View more information about this item online

[/os/windows/software/security/monitoring/activity_monitor] permanent link

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