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Fully protecting an excel spreadsheet

possible?

     
7:23 pm on Jan 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Is it possible to prevent someone from saving or copying an Excel spreadsheet after you email it to them? They should be able to access the spreadsheet initially so the password-protect feature won't be enough.
8:09 pm on Jan 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Short answer: no. Longer answer: (a) They've already got it saved if you've sent it to them, (b) if they can open it, the've got all the info - with all the electronic protection in the world, they could copy the figures by hand, take a screenshot and use OCR, use another program which can open Excel spreadsheets (eg. OO Calc)...

Are you trying to protect the data, or the formulas used to produce the data? The latter is easy, of course - just produce a PDF or a plain-text version without the formulas.

8:24 pm on Jan 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Thing is, if they get the data they have everything. I know Adobe has a product that allows you to send a .pdf file that can't be edited, copied or even printed. The cost for it is not for individual use though. Thought there might be some other solution for the little guy.
8:41 pm on Jan 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I know Adobe has a product that allows you to send a .pdf file that can't be edited, copied or even printed.

Yes, they do, and it doesn't work. Like I said, take a screenshot, or open the PDF in a non-Adobe PDF browser and you have access to every function, including printing, exporting, etc.

Any kind of digitally-enforced copy protection is more about kidding the data owner into thinking it is safe, and putting off casual attempts to access the information by the end-user.

Is there any other way of presenting the data which only shows partial information, not the whole thing? Like a web app in which the user can search for specific figures without being able to download the whole file?

[edited by: encyclo at 9:20 pm (utc) on Jan. 11, 2005]

9:18 pm on Jan 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Have them sign a draconian NDA before sending the spreadsheet, and be prepared to sue them if they violate it.

Anything you send out can be trivially copied if it can be displayed. Your best bet is to make it so that whoever you give it to does not want to copy it or use it in any way that puts them at risk.

 

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