Tech Tip: When in Doubt, Encrypt It!


It’s happening. You know that weird feeling when you send an email with confidential information without encrypting it? Or how about when you saved a confidential document to your OneDrive online storage account? It’s that moment that you get a little anxiety and kind of cross your fingers hoping the documents aren’t somehow accessed by the wrong person.

What if we told you we can help you eliminate that feeling by simply using encryption?

Encryption is used to provide additional security to your files by requiring a password to access a document.

As you know cybercriminals are a real threat and it takes teamwork to protect the university from them. Encryption can help too. We don’t want you or the university to be a victim to a cyberattack, so we are here to help by showing you how to encrypt files when needed.

For example, if you are emailing confidential documents to  off campus email addresses because you work in a unique department such as Payroll or Financial Aid, you should encrypt the file. In addition, you should encrypt when you are saving a confidential file in online storage such as Microsoft OneDrive.

File encryption is easier than you may think and comes in handy when you need to share a confidential file via email or OneDrive. Take a look below at the file encryption options that best suit you!

  • Encrypting a File:

    Right click on the file and select Properties.

    Select Properties

    Select Advanced.

    Select Advanced

    Place a check in the option Encrypt contents to secure data and select OK.

    Encrypt Files

    Select Apply, then OK.

    Apply and OK

  • Encrypting a File for Cloud Storage (One Drive):

    Files with confidential data that will be moved to OneDrive also need to be encrypted. Some software comes with the ability to encrypt the document, such as password protect. For information on how to use the software to encrypt a file, check out the Help section for the software.

    If the software does not provide a way to encrypt the file, IT@Sam recommends using a compression tool with password protection, such as 7-Zip, to encrypt the file prior to moving the file to OneDrive. There are several compressions tools that offer password protection, but IT@Sam makes 7-Zip available in the Software Center. If you would like to use 7-Zip, please follow these directions on how to encrypt a file and open an encrypted file.

    To install 7-Zip, open the Software Center and select 7-Zip. Then select Install.

    Software Center

    Install 7Zip

    Once 7-Zip is installed, locate the file in File Explorer. Right click on the file, select Add to archive… from the 7-Zip options.

    Select Add to Archive

    In the Add to Archive dialogue, select zip in the Archive format option, enter and reenter the password, select AES-256 for the Encryption method and select OK.

    Add to Archive

    The zip file will then be saved in the location of the original file and the zip file can be moved to OneDrive.

    Zip File Saved

    If you are not using the OneDrive Sync Client, the zip file will have to be downloaded from OneDrive online prior to opening.

    To open the encrypted file, right click on the zip file and select Extract files… from the 7-Zip options.

    Select Extract Files

    In the Extract dialogue box, select the location the file will be extracted to, enter the Password and select OK.

    Extract Options

    A folder will then be displayed in the location specified previously.

    Unzipped File

  • Encrypting an Email:

    In order to send an encrypted email, simply add the phrase {Encrypt} to any location in the subject line or in the body of the email.

    You may use any email client or browser when sending encrypted email.

    Encrypted Email Example