A new book available from O’Reilly Media, Security and Privacy for Microsoft Office 2010, instructs and advises on the topic of online business security. Examples are given to illustrate the functions of the software and why a company would want to use them. The book is by Mitch Tulloch, a well-known expert on Windows administration and a recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award. What follows is a summation of his book.
(It’s important to understand that Office 365—a cloud-based set of apps designed to better allow user access away from the office—does not have the same security features that are found in Office 2010. But, as it is a cloud-based system, its security features are governed by the Internet Explorer web browser—which already has its own set of security measures in place—and not Office 2010’s security system.)
A business that utilizes Office 2010 properly is protected from user activity such as opening a possibly malicious email attachment or attempting to circumvent IT security by downloading a document to a personal device to further access it.
Office 2010 has a feature called “Protected View”, which displays a bright yellow “ribbon” on the screen to both prevent and protect users from unauthorized access attempts. The document is solely available as read-only, all action is blocked, and the ribbon bears a warning that the just-opened document is from a source that Office cannot verify. If the user tries to take any action on the email, another ribbon opens at the bottom of the window with an additional warning.
This kind of security is called sandboxing, which refers to the safety of children’s play activities in a sandbox, with neither cares nor worries for themselves or the rest of the world.
Once the user believes the document to be safe, Protected View can be disabled and the document accessed.
Another sandboxing measure found in Office 2010 is “Document Properties”. This allows a user to look at and possibly edit hidden information found within a document. The user is not only assured that it is genuine, but can also make changes so that others might know the same.
Next is “Digital Signing”, which ensures that the final document will have to be approved through each step of the revision process—and with all personal and/or confidential information removed—before it can be sent on its way.
Finally, “Encryption” provides the secure exchange of a document between collaborators. This process also enables a selective editing function, so a recipient can view the entire document but might only be allowed to edit certain preselected portions.
Office 2010 offers the best online security to date and can help to further secure a business’s online presence.