If you've ever had to send a number of attachments by email, you’ve most likely zipped your files. Zipping compresses files, but did you know you can also lock them so they stay secure from prying eyes? Here’s how to encrypt and password protect ZIP files before sending them to anyone.
Can you put a password on a zip file? Windows doesn’t have an option to protect your zipped file with a password, so there’s no other way but to use third-party tools. You can choose from various trusted software options, such as WinZip, WinRAR, and 7-Zip. For this tutorial, we’ve chosen 7-Zip as it’s free and offers AES-256 encryption standard (the same that NordVPN uses to protect your traffic from snoopers).
The receiver can only access your files and folders if they have 7-Zip or a similar compression tool. If you are worried that the recipient won’t be able to open the file, you could choose ZipCrypto encryption instead of AES-256. Then the recipient can easily open it using File Explorer or Windows Explorer. However, we do not recommend this as it’s not as secure as AES-256.
To decrypt and access your files:
Windows 10 provides an encryption feature as well, and you can follow these simple steps to use it:
While it’s useful to have this feature available, it’s probably not enough on its own. This option is not designed for sending ZIP files specifically, and is only present in certain Windows 10 editions, such as Pro, Education, and Enterprise.
For users concerned with genuine security, especially when sending files, a third-party program is probably still the best bet. These will allow you to more comprehensively protect individual ZIP files and folders, both on your own device and in transit.
7-Zip uses strong encryption so it would be difficult for an attacker to access your folders unless they already knew your password. Make sure you choose a strong password that includes capital letters, digits, and random characters. (You can use the NordPass random password generator for this.)
However, don’t forget – no matter the encryption, anyone with access to the compressed folder will be able to see your file names, which can hint at the contents. Consider changing your file names so they wouldn’t include any sensitive and personally identifiable information. The recipient also needs a password, and if you can't communicate it securely, your files will still be vulnerable.
Windows allows you to hide a certain file or folder from the file directory. This means that while technically your document will exist, nobody will be able to see it. However, this method shouldn’t be trusted to hide sensitive data because anyone can find hidden files with a couple of clicks.
If you can still see the file or folder after following these steps, here’s what you need to do:
The NordVPN team also offers a powerful encryption tool called NordLocker. It can help you securely transfer your files via any platform (cloud, email, USBs and other means). With NordLocker you don't need to compress your files or protect them with a password. No one can read or open your documents except the intended recipient. How does this work?
Your files are encrypted using asymmetric key cryptography, meaning that you and the recipient generate private and public keys when you download the NordLocker app. The app then uses your recipient’s public key to encrypt your files.
Now the only way to decrypt this file is with the combination of your recipient’s public and private key. That means you don't have to worry about sharing your passwords. NordLocker's encryption and its zero-knowledge policy ensures ultimate security for your data.
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