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🎥 Encrypt / Decrypt Sensitive Data in Excel Spreadsheets Using CellShield

by Jackie Sabbagh

This is the third in a four-part series to introduce IRI CellShield. An overview is found here. The following parts demonstrate how to use the other functions in CellShield: data masking and pseudonymization

IRI CellShield secures personally identifiable information (PII) in spreadsheets. CellShield comes as either an inexpensive Excel add-in, or an enterprise edition for LAN-wide PII discovery, remediation, and auditing. Both versions perform full or partial redaction, encryption (including format-preserving) and decryption, and pseudonymization:

Users can select a range of cells to protect, and then click the function they want to apply. CellShield offers an easy-to-use interface, and it does its work quickly – even on very large data sets.

For encryption purposes, the user establishes an appropriate passphrase to protect each applicable data set. CellShield will decrypt the protected content when the correct passphrase is entered. This allows only specific users to see the protected information, but allows others to work in the same spreadsheet without having access to that same information.

The example below demonstrates how easy it is to use CellShield’s ‘Encrypt & Decrypt’ feature to protect social security numbers in Excel. (Note: All information used in this example is fictional.)

1. Open the sheet containing the data you want CellShield to encrypt. Note that only some of the encryption routines available in IRI FieldShield, including format-preserving encryption, are supported in CellShield.

2. Select the range of cells to encrypt.

3. Click on the CellShield tab in the Excel ribbon.
4. Click the ‘Encrypt & Decrypt’ button on the CellShield menu; then select ‘Encrypt’ from the drop-down list.


5. Fill in all required information on the user form that pops up for ‘Data Encryption’ (passphrase is optional).



6. Then click the ‘Encrypt’ button on the form to populate the results in the desired location (either into a new spreadsheet or within the selected range).



In this case, the selected range was encrypted with a format-preserving encryption routine so that the cell values appear to be credit card numbers, but are protected. The original values can be restored only with the corresponding decryption routine and passphrase (encryption key) in IRI CellShield or IRI FieldShield.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rck Armwood August 2, 2017 at 1:48 pm

If I apply CellShield to an Excel spreadsheet & send it to someone, will they be able to decrypt it on their end using just a password? Do all recipients need to have CellShield installed as well?


David Friedland August 2, 2017 at 1:57 pm

No. They will need their own licensed installation of CellShield (or if the data are moved into a flat file or database, IRI FieldShield) which has the the corresponding decryption function. And they would need to use the same passphrase.


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