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How to encrypt and protect outlines with a password?

Secure and Network Editions of ActionOutline let you protect your outlines with industry standard AES 256-bit encryption and password.

If you assign a password to your outline, its contents will be encrypted and no one will be able to access it without a correct password.

Let's see how it works!

Assigning a password to a document

Open File menu and select Outline password... item to open a password setup window:

Use File|Outline password... menu item to set or change a password for the outline. Click to enlarge... Enter a new password for the outline. In addition, you can specify an optional password hint. Click to enlarge...

Enter a password and confirm it in the next input box. Please pick a strong password!

Please note, that there is no way to recover a lost password. To let you remember your password in the future, you may enter an arbitrary password hint. This hint will be displayed to anyone, when password will be requested, so please take care to enter information that is meaningful only to you.

Press OK. You'll be asked whether you want to save outline right now, to apply password to your disk file.

Confirm whether you want to save outline after setting or changing the outline password. Click to enlarge...

Click Yes to save your outline right now and your outline file will be encrypted and protected with a password.

Opening password protected outline.

When you open a password protected outline, you'll be asked for a password:

Enter password for the password-protected outline to open.

Enter a password for this outline and click OK. If you entered a correct password, then your outline will open in ActionOutline. Otherwise you'll be asked to try again.

Please note that this is not a comparing your password to the correct one. Your original password is not stored anywhere. ActionOutline uses your password to decrypt your outline and checks if it gets a valid outline. So do not forget your password, it can't be restored.

If you want to give yourself a hint, then you may assign a password hint during password setup. In this case, when you'll be asked for a password, the hint will be displayed in the password window:

Enter password for the password-protected outline to open. Password hint is displayed.

ROXY may be your dog's name, and her birthday can be used as a password for example. Please note, that hint is displayed to anyone, so make it impossible for others to understand what you meant.

Change or remove existing outline password.

If you work with password-protected outline, you can change or remove its password. Use the same File|Outline password... menu item.

Use File|Outline password... menu item to set or change a password for the outline. Click to enlarge...

You'll be asked to re-enter your current outline password to allow password change:

Enter password for the password-protected outline to open.

Once you confirm the current password, a password setup dialog will open:

Change or remove outline password using this dialog. Click to enlarge...

You can enter a new password here or check Remove password option if you want to remove password from your outline.

Check Remove password option to remove password from the outline. Click to enlarge...

Press OK and save your changes if required.

Confirm whether you want to save outline after setting or changing the outline password. Click to enlarge...

More about outline encryption.

ActionOutline uses industry-standard AES 256-bit encryption for password-protected outlines.

The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) specifies a FIPS-approved cryptographic algorithm (Rijndael, designed by Joan Daemen and Vincent Rijmen, published in 1998) that may be used by US federal departments and agencies to cryptographically protect sensitive information. ActionOutline Secure Edition uses AES with 14 rounds and a 256-bit key (i.e., AES-256, published in 2001).

In June 2003, after the NSA (US National Security Agency) conducted a review and analysis of AES, the U.S. CNSS (Committee on National Security Systems) announced that the design and strength of AES-256 (and AES-192) are sufficient to protect classified information up to the Top Secret level. This is applicable to all U.S. Government Departments or Agencies that are considering the acquisition or use of products incorporating the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) to satisfy Information Assurance requirements associated with the protection of national security systems and/or national security information.

Let's see this in action. Check the following sample outline:

Sample outline open in ActionOutline.

Now check it's file contents, without a password:

Partial dump of the non-encrypted outline document.

And now see a contents of this file, if we protect it with a password:

Partial dump of the encrypted outline document.

How to select a strong password?

Because outline encryption is based on the password you choose, you should select a strong password, not a weak one.

AES 256-bit encryption is very strong and the only way to break it, is to try all possible passwords. In practice it means, that there is no way to break it in any practical time frame. However "bad guys" will try to enumerate all popular and simple passwords first, and if your password is weak, then they will be able to find it!

Tips for good password:

  • Make your password as long as possible. Use at least 8 characters!
  • Passwords should not contain any personal information, your real name, address, phone number, user name, company information etc.
  • Use numbers, punctuation characters and, when possible, mixed upper and lower-case letters.
  • Try not to put complete words into password. Replace Hello22 with Hel-o22 and your password will be much stronger.
  • Do not use words, geographical names, or biographical names that are listed in standard dictionaries.
  • Do not use passwords that are easy to spot while you're typing them in. Passwords like 12345, qwerty (i.e., all keys right next to each other), or nnnnnn should be avoided.
  • Deliberately misspelling one or more words can make your password harder to crack.
  • If you ever write down your password, please do not make it clear to others, that this is your password.

Think of an uncommon phrase, and take the first, second or last letter of each word. Outlines are better than plain text would yield oabtpt. Throw in a capital letter and a puntuation mark or a number or two, and you can end up with oAbt7p-t.

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