One of the primary business concerns that I hear from my customers is: “How do we keep our information and documents safe?”

Since so much of what we all do is collaborating and sharing information with others via Microsoft Office, today’s post summarizes some of the top ways that the Office 2007 system can help keep your business critical information safe and secure.

Below are my top 10. As always, your feedback and comments are encouraged and appreciated.

  1. Information Rights Management (IRM) enables you to protect Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents so that you can restrict who can view, edit, copy and print documents and for how long. You can also protect e-mail messages in Outlook to prevent people from viewing, forwarding, printing, copying and replying to all on messages. These capabilities are especially useful in making sure that sensitive information does not leave your company.
  2. Document inspection in Word, Excel and PowerPoint helps ensure that sensitive information is easily removed from documents. Examples are comments and revision history (e.g. if you were tracking changes); speaker notes; watermarks; document properties; and hidden data.
  3. Digital signature capabilities integrated in Office 2007 enable you to electronically sign documents and confirm the identity of the person that signed the document. Many customers are using this capability to secure their documents and also eliminate paper based approval and signature processes.
  4. Office 2007 integrates with SharePoint so people can publish documents securely to a SharePoint site which can be setup with proper access controls, versioning, work-flow, audit and archival policies.
  5. Excel Services allows you to publish an Excel workbook to SharePoint while securing sensitive information, macros, data connections, charts and formulas. One of the benefits of this is that anyone with a browser, and the proper access rights, can view only the components of the spreadsheet that you allow.
  6. Groove facilitates secure collaboration and sharing of documents and information internally and externally. Groove solves a common business problem where teams need to collaborate inside and outside of the firewall. Rather than having people email documents, or publish them to external public websites, Groove allows for secure and encrypted sharing of information. IT can also setup policies and audit the usage of Groove to manage the process.
  7. The Open XML file format, which is the default for many programs in Office 2007, offers a number of security benefits and it also prevents most documents from being corrupted. Also, in the rare case that an Office 2007 document does become corrupted – you no longer lose the whole document. You can recover the document and remove the part of the document (e.g. image, video) that became corrupted.
  8. Need to save an Office document to PDF or XPS but don’t want to spend extra money licensing 3rd party software? Great news. Office 2007 provides free integrated support for saving Office documents directly to PDF or XPS. Starting with Service Pack 2 (SP2) of Office 2007 these capabilities are directly integrated with Office.
  9. Office 2007 is significantly more secure than prior versions of Office. In fact, the majority of Office security exploits and vulnerabilities do not affect Office 2007. By default, items that could possibly cause harm to your computer are disabled in Office 2007. The Trust Center in Office 2007 enables you to have much greater flexibility and control over add-ins; trusted publishers and locations; ActiveX Controls; and macros.
  10. The Office Security Guide provides IT with more in depth details on security in Office 2007. If you are using Group Policy, solution accelerator templates exist to assist with applying security best practices.