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How are password protected files and WinZip encrypted files different ?

For example - if i have a excel file to be sent. Option 1 - I can send it as a password protected file. Option 2 - Encrypt it with password, say with WinZip

How does it help to send the winzip encrypted file? Ultimately, it is about the receiver entering the RIGHT password. Or is there any advantage to sending an encryoted file ?

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2 Answers

There can be a difference in encryption algorithms used there, I know that ZIP allows for AES and I don't know how about Excel.

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Both are using encryption. They have a bit of a bad reputation, since Excel and WinZip used to use dreadful encryption methods in the past. However, the latest versions of both use AES-128, which the US Government considers strong enough to use for SECRET information. You don't tell us your threat model (what you are protecting and who from) so we can't make any guarantees, but you should be OK with whichever is the most convenient.

However, two important points to note:

  • I am talking here about Excel's "password to open" option where you can't open the worksheet at all. The "password to modify" option does not encrypt and is trivial to bypass.
  • Information Security is more than just picking a strong encryption method. You also need to use strong passwords, manage the password exchange process, secure the endpoints, guard against social engineering, etc. etc. etc.
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