Encryption Vs Password Protection: What's the Difference?

Protecting documents with a password will keep your data secure, whether you're sharing a device with other users or exchanging files over the internet. Some of the most fundamental Windows capabilities, such as the ability to specify passwords for specific files and folders, are often overlooked nowadays. This security feature can be useful in the event of a breach because hackers won't be able to access your personal papers.

We frequently discuss ways to safeguard users' email, social media accounts, and other personal information, but what about text documents and other files that we could keep on our devices? If you have ever wondered how to keep a PDF or any other file private, you have probably come across two terms: "password protection" and "password encryption." Even though they may sound similar, password protection and encryption are entirely different from each other. In this article, we'll go over the differences between the two techniques and how to safeguard your data from the individuals you're concealing it from while still ensuring that you don't lose access to it.

How to Encrypt and Password Protect Files

Every Windows 10 device comes with a built-in password and encryption feature that is simple to set up and use. To create a password for any important document on your device, follow these steps −

  • Begin by opening File Explorer and looking for the file you wish to secure. This approach may be used to password-protect files and folders.

  • When you have located the file, right-click it and choose "Properties."When you have located the file, right-click it and choose "Properties."

  • Next, go to the "Attributes" area of the window and choose "Advanced."

  • At the bottom, look for the option that reads "Encrypt contents to safeguard data." Select it, then click "OK" and "Apply."

The encryption procedure will now begin, which may take a few seconds. If you have already used this approach, Windows will prompt you to save your encryption key. It is critical to saving the password in case you lose access to the password-protected files. It is better to be safe than sorry.

The files will be protected with a password associated with your Windows user account after the process is completed. If the papers are accessed by removing the hard disc, the data will seem jumbled and meaningless.

By going to the "Attributes" section of the "Properties" window will allow you to reverse this operation at any time. Simply untick the "Encrypt contents to protect data" option and then click "OK."

What is Password Protection?

Password Protection is similar to locking something away in a safe. It implies that without the correct combination, no one can access the restricted material. This approach is used to safeguard individual documents, folders, and other data on a computer from other persons who may have access to the device.

The difficulty is that if someone who is interested in such stuff acquires the password or discovers a means to open it without it, the content may be released, despite the owner's best attempts. Unfortunately, there are several ways for hackers to get the password or gain access to the system without it. It might, for example, be retrieved through malware, or it could be guessed if the user picks a weak password. Not to add that the passwords that have been imposed on PDF documents may be deleted using the CMD window or specialized password recovery programs.

What is Password Encryption?

Password Encryption is a higher layer of security than password protection. The title is a little misleading because you can't encrypt the password itself. Instead, setting up "password encryption" creates a password while also encrypting the file's contents.

The content of the user's PDF document is not just password-secured but also encrypted in our example (see procedures below). It is a technique in which the substance of anything you want to keep hidden is changed to make it unrecognizable.

If it is a text document, for example, the letters of each word may be jumbled with extra characters, rendering the contents unintelligible. Only if the person who wants to decrypt the data can supply a specific decryption key or password is the reverse operation possible. One could say, even if a password is erased, no one will be able to access the secret material since it must first be decrypted. Of course, you should be aware that if you lose the decryption key, also known as the password, you may be unable to recover it.

How to Password Protect a PDF?

Follow the steps given below to secure a PDF with a password −

  • Open the PDF file you have chosen.

  • Select "Protect" from the "Tools" menu.

  • Then choose Encrypt and Password Encryption.

  • Insert your password after choosing "Require a Password to Open the Document."

  • Next to "Compatibility", choose an Acrobat version (select the same version as the recipient has or lower).

  • Choose from the following encryption options −

    • Encrypt the entire document.

    • Except for metadata, encrypt all the document contents.

  • Click "OK". When prompted, confirm and retype the password (make sure you remember it).

  • To complete the process, click "OK".

Encryption or Password Protection: Which is the Most Secure Method?

Password encryption is unquestionably safer than password protection since it has two security levels, whereas password protection only has one. However, it is frequently dependent on the data that one intends to secure and the persons from whom he wishes to keep it hidden.

For example, if you want your children to be unable to access less critical papers or information, you may password protect it with a strong password made up of random characters that they will never guess. If we're talking about critical information whose loss may jeopardize your virtual security, we will propose password encryption.

The major danger of password protection, as previously said, is that hackers who are interested in your data will discover a method to access it without the password or find other ways to get in. Despite the fact that one technique is believed to be safer than the other, both have a drawback in that the user may forget the password. Even if the files were locked away to secure them, they might be lost in this situation. If you're going to password-protect or encrypt your files, it is a good idea to figure out a means to preserve the created passwords somewhere secure in case you need to look them up later.

Differences between Password Protection and Encryption

The following table highlights the major differences between Encryption and Password Protection −

Password ProtectionEncryption
Password is a string of characters that include alphabets, numbers, special characters, or a combination of all three.

Password protection is a security feature that prevents unwanted access to personal and sensitive information stored on computers.

Only authorized users or those who know the password can access the desired information with password protection.
Encryption is one level up from password protection and refers to the act of hiding communications so that only authorized employees may access the information or data encoded inside them.
A password is similar to a combination lock on a safe in that only those who know it can access the account it is supposed to protect.

Passwords are stored locally in many programs, including email, social networking apps, network connections, and accounting software, leaving them open to password cracking.

Weak passwords can be broken in a matter of seconds or minutes.
Encryption, on the other hand, is an extra layer of protection that takes information or data and renders it unintelligible to all except the intended recipient.
Passwords are only a string of characters that can include alphabets, numbers, special characters, or a mix of all three.

Passwords are safe to a certain extent, but malware with key logger components may quickly crack them.

As a result, creating a strong password for all your online accounts is critical to your safety.
Because sensitive information or data is encrypted or masked using an algorithm and a key, encryption is safer than passwords.

Only the right key can decode the message, and a cipher is a key to the code.
A secure password is made up of at least six characters that include letters, numbers, and symbols.

Because passwords are case sensitive, a good password might contain both lowercase and uppercase characters.
Symmetric and asymmetric encryption are the two most common types of encryption in use today (or public-key encryption).

Both parties have two keys in public-key encryption: a public key that is used to encrypt communication and a private key that is only known by the sender and receiver and is used to decode the message.

Symmetric encryption uses the same key to encrypt and decode data.