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Illustration of a man sat at a desk in front of a computer display with a document being encrypted and sent securely to the cloud

How to encrypt word documents and send them securely

With close to 90% of UK businesses embracing hybrid working, more and more employees are spending time working from home or other remote locations. But this increased flexibility of working can bring with it security concerns for organisations and individuals.

Working remotely often involves sending material over third-party networks – such as home Wi-Fi – which can be less secure than internal corporate networks. This can place sensitive data and confidential documents at risk of interception.

Encryption can overcome this risk by adding an additional layer of security to emails, attachments and documents. Here we explain what encryption is and how to send a document securely.

What is encryption?

Encryption means converting regular data into a code. You can encrypt data on your computer, such as turning an email or a document into code. When you send this data to someone else, they can use matching software and an encryption key to convert the code back into the original data. This means even if a third party intercepts an email, they won’t be able to read the email or the attachment if they don’t have the encryption key.

How to encrypt an email and email attachments?

Most email apps allow simple encryption to secure the text of emails and the attachments they contain.

If you’re using a Windows computer, you’ll most likely have access to Microsoft Outlook. To encrypt an email and its attachments in Outlook, follow these steps:

  1. Write your email and add the intended recipients.
  2. Click Options in the menu at the top of the email.
  3. Click the Encrypt button.
  4. You’ll see a list of options in a drop-down menu. Select Encrypt Only as the simplest option. This will encrypt the text of the email and any attachments.
  5. Send the email. Only the selected recipients of the email will be able to read it and access attachments. And only if they receive the email through a compatible Microsoft email app.

When you’re using a Mac, you’ll have access to the Mail app. To encrypt an email in Mail, follow these steps:

  1. Write your email.
  2. Hover your mouse over the From field. Click the pop-up menu that appears and select the account for which you have a personal encryption certificate.
  3. Add the intended recipients to your email. An encryption symbol (a padlock) will appear next to each recipient that has a matching encryption certificate – this means it will allow them to decrypt the email once they receive it.

You can also encrypt emails and their attachments in web-based email applications, like Gmail. To encrypt an email and attachments in Gmail, follow these steps:

  1. Click Compose to begin a new email.
  2. In the menu at the bottom of the email, click on Toggle confidential mode.
  3. Select how long you want access to be available to the email and its attachments.
  4. Select whether or not you want the email to require an SMS code to access.
  5. Click Save. The email and attachments are now encrypted.

How to password protect a document

You can also encrypt documents and set a password to decrypt them for access.

How to encrypt a Microsoft Word document:

  1. Open the Word document.
  2. Click on the File menu.
  3. Click Encrypt with Password.
  4. Write your chosen password in the pop-up box.
  5. Confirm the password a second time.
  6. The document is now encrypted with password protection.

To encrypt a PDF in Adobe Acrobat:

  1. Open the document.
  2. Click the Tools menu.
  3. Click the Protect option.
  4. Click Encrypt.
  5. Click Encrypt with Password.
  6. Enter your chosen password in the pop-up box.
  7. Select the level of encryption you require from the options.
  8. The PDF is now encrypted with password protection.

With the above steps, you can easily encrypt single emails, attachments and documents. But if you need to regularly send sensitive data over third-party networks, a more suitable option is to use dedicated encryption software. This includes an encrypted email service and printing and scanning devices that offer automated encryption.

Find out more about how Brother UK can help you and your business with our security solutions for devices, documents, and networks, as well as our hybrid working technology solutions.


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