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Email Encryption and Data Security

October is Cybersecurity Month! This week we’re talking about email and data security. Here are some tips to secure your emails and the sensitive data within them.


Encrypting Emails:

  • Outlook: To encrypt individual emails, open a new email and click Options > Encrypt (you may need to input your password again). This will restrict who can print, forward, and copy your email. If you are on a PC, you can make every email you send encrypted in File > Options > Trust Center Settings. On the Email Security tab, under Encrypted email, select the Encrypt contents and attachments for outgoing messages checkbox. Read the entire walkthrough here.

  • Gmail: To encrypt individual emails, compose a new email and look for the lock with a clock icon in the bottom bar. You can set a length of time the email is encrypted and create an SMS password for the email.

  • Email Certifications: For email services outside of CIA, it’s also possible to purchase additional protection, if you have questions about additional encryption options contact


Encrypting Individual Files:

You can also encrypt a file before it goes into an email as an attachment. Encrypting a file beforehand allows you to have more control over where the file goes after the email.

  • Microsoft Excel, Powerpoint, Word: If you want to protect a Word Doc, read the instructions here. For protecting excel documents on a Windows computer read here. Finally, if you want to protect a PowerPoint, read more here. If you use a Mac computer, these options are all consistently available in the Review Tab.

  • Mac Zip Files: if you want to encrypt whole compressed files on Mac, it requires some minor knowledge of using apple’s command-line utility, Terminal. Michigan State University kindly prepared these instructions here, but please note, the new password-protected zip file will be in your Home folder.

  • Windows: Download the free version of Winzip and then right-click the file you want to encrypt. Highlight WinZip and then select Add to Sensitive Finally, right-click and select Winzip > Encrypt. This will allow you to password-protect the file.


Sending an Attachment in the Cloud:

  • OneDrive: Staff and Faculty have 5GB of storage through Microsoft’s cloud, OneDrive. In OneDrive, there is a feature called Personal Vault which will lock your files from viewing within 20 minutes of inactivity. You can then share this with someone over email.

  • Google Drive: Students, Staff, and Faculty have unlimited storage through Google Drive. Drive has different security levels of access to files in storage. The first is the email address needs to be invited to edit or view. The second is a shared link that is either for the same domain or public, available to anyone with the link. If you have sensitive information you need to share, use the email option, and make sure the file is set to view-only.

  • Wetransfer: Allows you to email files (up to 2GB) to a specified email address and the download stays active for one week by default. If you pay for an account, you can also password protect those files and can share files up to 20GB.

  • Other Options: Dropbox and iCloud also are safe ways to send files from a cloud service. If you have accounts with these services, you should examine what options they offer for secure sending.


If you have any questions about encryption and emails, please contact the Help Desk at


Thanks for reading,

Poppy Lyttle, IT Manager

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