So, you have invested hundreds of hours into creating your PowerPoint presentations, and now you realize you need to protect them. Though they are often overlooked, PowerPoint presentations carry plenty of information that could harm a business. Anything from revenue figures to acquisition prospects or client details may be presented at one point or another.
After the meeting concludes, the ppt or pptx file is often shared unprotected with the participants to recap, leading to their inevitable leak. Training companies that sell PowerPoint presentations as part of course materials also need to prevent them from being copied and shared with users that have not purchased them, or from being edited and sold on.
Below are the security options available to protect presentation slides (.pptx files) so you can prevent them from being shared, copied and edited.
You have probably wondered ‘Does copyright protect powerpoint diagrams?’. Just as with any media, you have an inherent right to control the distribution of content inside your PowerPoint presentation (provided it was created by you). This extends to images, text, video, etc. However, legally holding the rights to a work does very little to prevent it from being copied and distributed without your permission. You can add a copyright symbol and disclaimer to your PowerPoint slides, but it’s likely it’ll just be ignored and can be easily removed. If copyright notices were an effective way of preventing unauthorized distribution, piracy would be virtually non-existent.
In other words, it’s down to you to enforce your copyright by using the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) and lawyers. You could take somebody to court every time they infringe your copyright, but that would be costly, time-consuming, and wouldn’t erase the harm they’d already done. It’s better to take measures to stop them from being able to do so in the first place.
PowerPoint Password Protection & Security Issues
Applying passwords to protect PowerPoint files (PPT, PPTX, PPS, PPPX) is the cheapest solution for PowerPoint Security (it is free with PowerPoint) but also the least secure.
There are two types of passwords that can be used to password protect PowerPoint files:
Both have major weaknesses:
Here’s how easy it is to remove password protection in PowerPoint:
Like all Microsoft Office applications, PowerPoint uses a password as the encryption key to restrict access to the file. However, this does not mean that your file is safe. Passwords can be brute forced (often with the help of a list of common passwords). Short, uncomplex passwords can be removed in seconds and longer passwords with few symbols or numbers in minutes or hours.
The bigger risk of protecting presentations with a password is that an authorized user can share the document and its password with somebody who is not supposed to view it. This could be intentional, in the case of an internal leak, or accidentally, due to a social engineering attack, phishing attack, or insecure password storage. However, since PowerPoint’s copy protection is useless, any user that can open the file can also share it by printing it to a PDF, copy and pasting its content, or saving a new copy without a password.
It is really easy to remove edit restrictions in PowerPoint. Users can:
How to lock a PowerPoint from opening
If you want to add an open/viewing password to your document despite the flaws mentioned above, this is how you do it:
It is worth noting that you can also add an open password to your presentation using the methods outlined in the “How to password protect a PowerPoint presentation & restrict editing” section below. This is ideal if you want to add both an editing and open password to your document, as you can do them at the same time.
How to lock a PowerPoint from editing
If you’d like to lock a PowerPoint from editing with a password despite its drawbacks (perhaps you just want to stop accidental editing) here’s how:
You will see that even Microsoft warns you that an editing password is not a secure feature and will not stop malicious users from editing or copying the document. Though it does restrict editing in PowerPoint, it only does so on a surface level. Users can easily remove the editing protecting using the techniques outlined above.
Before we move on to other protection solutions, it’s worth quickly clarifying claims that saving your PowerPoint presentation as images will permanently prevent editing.
You can’t easily edit or copy text from an image, right? Well, that’s not quite true. Optical character recognition tools can take the images and turn them right back into an editable PowerPoint file again.
Here’s an example of an image file and its OCR conversion:
With a few seconds extra work to match the fonts, you wouldn’t be able to tell that it’s not the original PowerPoint file.
PowerPoint’s read-only mode lets you restrict editing without the use of a password. It does so by displaying a warning message when users try to edit text or images.
However, it’s important to point out that PowerPoint read only mode doesn’t stop unauthorized editing and was never designed to do so. Read-only can be toggled on and off (by pressing the ‘Enable Editing’ button on the message bar) by any user and no password is required to do so. It is only there to stop accidental changes.
The Restrict Access option to protect a PowerPoint from being copied, edited or printed, uses Microsoft Rights Management or IRM which we cover below.
If you want to save or make a PowerPoint read only or lock PowerPoint from editing, then you need to save it as a PDF and protect it with Locklizard Safeguard.
Microsoft IRM for PowerPoint Protection
Microsoft IRM (Information Rights Management) enables you to protect PowerPoint files without passwords.
However, this system has several drawbacks:
In conclusion, using Microsoft IRM for PowerPoint Security is only helpful in limited situations, and it does not completely protect PowerPoint presentations. Even Azure information protection restrictions can be bypassed if a user has been given view access.
Locklizard PowerPoint Security – DRM Protection for PPT & PPTX files
Locklizard Digital Rights Management software can protect PowerPoint presentations that have been converted to PDF format. You can do this within PowerPoint by saving your PPT or PPTX file as a PDF. The advantage of converting PowerPoints to the Adobe PDF format is that you can easily prevent the editing and copying of content. It also means users of your PowerPoint slides don’t need to use insecure technology like passwords or plugins to view them.
Once your PowerPoint presentation has been converted to a PDF file, you can secure it using Safeguard PDF Security.
Safeguard PDF Security protects PowerPoint presentations from unauthorized:
Safeguard PDF Security automatically locks PowerPoint slides to authorized devices so they cannot be shared. You restrict who can access your protected PowerPoint slides, the amount of time they can be viewed, and whether they can be printed. And if you decide that you no longer want users to be able to view them, then you can instantly revoke access.
And with Safeguard Enterprise PDF DRM you can:
How to lock a PowerPoint from editing, copying, and printing with Safeguard DRM
The best way to lock a PowerPoint from editing, copying, printing, etc. is to not distribute it in the PowerPoint format at all. Currently, there just aren’t any good solutions to secure a PowerPoint presentation in its native format.
Though it is tempting to use something like Adobe Acrobat or Foxit PDF password protection, these have the exact same problem as PowerPoint password protection – the modify permissions are easily removed and the document open protection does not prevent unauthorized sharing.
The process of locking a PowerPoint presentation file to prevent it from being copied/edited is a two-step one: save to PDF, followed by protection in Safeguard Secure PDF Writer.
Note that converting a PowerPoint to a PDF will naturally remove its functionality as an interactive presentation.
Once you have converted your PowerPoint to PDF, protecting it with Safeguard is a simple matter:
Creating a protected presentation
Encrypting a PowerPoint without passwords using Safeguard PDF DRM
Safeguard Admin System
PowerPoint watermarks – are they effective?
No editing controls are going to stop a user from taking a picture of their screen with their phone or (if printing is enabled) scanning a printed copy and sharing it. This is where watermarks come in. However, just like editing restrictions, all watermarks are not made equal.
The strength of your watermarks depends on the strength of your copy protection and editing restrictions. If your editing restrictions are easily removed then so is your watermark – the user can just delete the watermark in PowerPoint. As we’ve already covered, PowerPoint’s editing restrictions are useless, so PowerPoint watermarks are too.
You can see how to add or insert a watermark in PowerPoint here which also explains just how easy it is for users to remove them.
Expiration in PowerPoint
It is not possible to set a PowerPoint to expire without the help of third-party applications or IRM services. Though there is an add-in called PPTExpire, it has been in development for years and is yet to release to the public. Plugins of this sort also typically pose a security risk and do not work as advertised.
One option is to upload your PowerPoint to OneDrive and share a link with an expiration date. However, this will give you far less protection than you anticipate. Browsers are unable to effectively enforce anti-copying controls because they just do not have enough control over the operating system.
In fact, in our testing, OneDrive even offered handy “print to PDF” and “Download” buttons so that users can easily make a copy of your PowerPoint which won’t expire!
Clearly, then, you’re going to have to use something else to make a PowerPoint expire. We believe Locklizard is the best option – first by saving your PowerPoint as a PDF file and then protecting it with Safguard PDF DRM Security.
In Safeguard Secure PDF Writer, choose the expiry options you want to apply:
You can select multiple expiry options – a fixed expiration date and a number of days from first use, a number of views and/or prints. Whichever option is reached first will cause the file to expire.
Expiry days, views, and prints are allocated on a user basis – so the same file can expire at different times for individual users.
Once you have chosen your PowerPoint expiration date options, press the Publish button.
The best way to secure your PowerPoint presentation when sharing
For total PowerPoint security with DRM protection, use Safeguard PDF Security to protect PowerPoint presentations. Restrict access, prevent unauthorized distribution and use, while locking the PowerPoint from editing, sharing, copying, printing, and screenshotting. Add permanent watermarks that identify users, and automatically expire presentations after a period of time or use. Revoke access anytime.
Locklizard uses US government-strength AES encryption, public key technology, Digital Rights Management, and licensing controls to ensure your presentations remain protected regardless of their location. If you want to make or save a PowerPoint as read only then only DRM protection can achieve this.