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CHIPS Articles: Password Protecting Microsoft Documents

Password Protecting Microsoft Documents
By Steve Daughety - January-March 2015
All DON personnel must safeguard PII from unauthorized access. Historically, disclosure of PII on command shared drives and web-based portals has been a significant cause of PII breaches. This article provides the steps to password protect individual Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, adding an additional level of protection when posting. It can also be used to add an extra level of protection when attaching documents to an encrypted email. The procedure is similar for each type of document.


  1. Open the document you want to protect.
  2. Click the “File” tab in the upper left of the screen.
  3. Click “Info” on the left side of the screen.
  4. Next to the “Protect Document” button you should see under “Permissions”, “Anyone can open, copy, and change any part of this document” as shown in Figure 1.
  5. Click on the “Protect Document” button and select “Encrypt with Password” as shown in Figure 2.
  6. Type your password in the pop-up box and hit OK as shown in Figure 3.
  7. Confirm your password in the next pop-up box and hit OK.
  8. Your document is now password protected and the words under “Permissions” should read, “A password is required to open this document” as shown in Figure 4.
  9. To remove the password and make the document available to all, follow the above steps, delete the password from the pop-up box, and hit OK.


  • Passwords should only be shared with those that have an official need to know.
  • If the document is sent as an attachment in an encrypted email, send the password to the intended recipients in a separate email.
  • Never include actual PII or the term “PII” in the document’s file name.

Note: Access permissions can also be set for folders on share drives by contacting your local Information Technology Division (ITD)/computer support personnel.

Additional privacy resources can be found on the DON CIO website at

Steve Daughety is the privacy lead for the Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer.

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