Google Docs is a popular cloud-based document editing service that allows real-time collaboration between multiple users. While it offers convenience, you may have confidential information in your documents that you don’t want everyone to see. Fortunately, there are ways to encrypt specific sections in your Google Docs documents.
Why Encrypt Google Docs
Here are some reasons you may want to encrypt parts of your Google Docs documents:
- You are collaborating on a document but want to restrict access to certain sensitive information like passwords, API keys, etc.
- You want to share the document with others but don’t want them to edit or copy certain passages.
- You need to share financial documents or reports publicly but want to hide sensitive data.
- You want to prevent unauthorized access to proprietary information or trade secrets if your document gets compromised.
Encrypting sensitive information allows selective access and helps mitigate risks from data leaks.
Methods to Encrypt Google Docs Sections
There are a couple of good methods to encrypt sections of text in your Google Docs:
1. Use the DocSecrets Add-on
One of the easiest ways to encrypt text in Google Docs is by using the DocSecrets add-on.
Here are the steps to use it:
- Install the DocSecrets add-on from the G Suite Marketplace in your Google Docs.
- Once enabled, click Add-ons > DocSecrets > Open from the Google Docs menu.
- In the sidebar that opens, enter a password to secure the encrypted text.
- Type or paste the confidential text you want to encrypt in the Enter Text box at the bottom.
- Click Insert to add this text in the document body, encrypted and highlighted.
- Repeat for any other text passages you want to encrypt.
The encrypted text can only be viewed by someone who has the DocSecrets add-on installed and knows the password.
2. Use Third-Party Encryption Tools
Another option is to use third-party encryption tools like Veracrypt to encrypt your entire Google Docs document or specific passages in it:
- Install and open Veracrypt on your computer.
- Create an encrypted Veracrypt volume (container).
- Open the container and copy-paste selective passages from your Google Doc into it.
- Save and close the Veracrypt container.
- Upload the encrypted container to Google Drive.
- Share access to the Veracrypt container along with the Google Doc that now has placeholder text in place of encrypted passages.
Anyone wanting to view the encrypted Veracrypt data will need the password and software installed. This lets you share the Google Doc publicly while selectively restricting confidential passages.
Best Practices for Encryption
When encrypting sensitive information in Google Docs, follow these best practices:
- Always use strong passwords at least 12 characters long for encryption.
- Grant document access only to users that need it. Revoke when no longer required.
- Use client-side encryption tools like Veracrypt for ultimate security.
- Encrypt only selected passages instead of entire documents when possible.
- Store encryption passwords separately from encrypted documents.
- Periodically audit and update encryption passwords.
Limitations of Encrypting Google Docs
While encrypting Google Doc sections adds a layer of security, some limitations remain:
- Password management and sharing remains a vulnerability.
- Encrypted passages cannot be edited within Google Docs.
- Searching document content excludes encrypted passages.
- Spell check, grammar check and word count features don’t include encrypted text.
- Some collaboration features may not work fully for editing encrypted documents.
Despite these limitations, encryption remains your best bet for securing sensitive information in your Google documents.
Encrypting sensitive text passages lets you securely collaborate on Google Docs documents without worrying about confidential data leaks. By using the DocSecrets add-on or tools like Veracrypt, you can restrict access to proprietary or private information.
Just remember to use strong passwords, limit document access, and store passwords separately from encrypted documents. With some prudent steps, you can eliminate the risk of unauthorized access to important data in your Google Docs.