Cut and paste defeats Excel's password protection

Peter Gutmann pgut001 at
Tue Dec 18 06:51:02 EST 2001

Spreadsheet passwords can be foiled by simply copying and pasting.
By John Fontana
Network World, 12/17/01

REDMOND, WASH. - Microsoft Excel, the predominant spreadsheet in use today,
contains a feature that could expose sensitive corporate data once the document
is distributed within a company or among trading partners.

That feature is drawing an increased level of attention from researchers and
Excel users alike as its implications become more fully understood. One expert
calls it "as potentially damaging" as many of the most recent viruses.

Excel has features that allow spreadsheet creators to hide, lock and/or
password-protect data and mathematical calculations used in original documents.
These features seemingly provide a measure of data security to conceal
specified data from prying eyes.

In reality, that data can be exposed by any end user who can execute a simple
copy-and-paste procedure. It takes fewer steps to reverse the security than it
does to set it up.


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