Asked  10 Months ago    Answers:  5   Viewed   192 times

I have a question about password protecting an Excel file.

The situation is that, I have a zip file, that has an Excel file in it. I need to write a Java program, to password protect the Excel file. Hence, the user should be able to unzip the file (the zip file need not be password protected). But, the Excel needs to be password-protected. When the user tries to unzip the file, he should be able to do so. And when he tries to open the Excel file (which is inside the unzipped folder), it must ask for a password. The question is similar to Protect excel file with java, with the added complexity that, the Excel file is zipped.

I have code, that password protects only the zip file, but this is not what I want.

import java.util.ArrayList;
import net.lingala.zip4j.core.ZipFile;
import net.lingala.zip4j.exception.ZipException;
import net.lingala.zip4j.model.ZipParameters;
import net.lingala.zip4j.util.Zip4jConstants;

* Demonstrates adding files to zip file with standard Zip Encryption

public class AddFilesWithStandardZipEncryption
    public AddFilesWithStandardZipEncryption()
    try {
            // Initiate ZipFile object with the path/name of the zip file.
            //ZipFile zipFile = new ZipFile("c:\ZipTest\");
            ZipFile zipFile = new ZipFile("C:\homepage\workspace\PasswordProtectedFiles\");

            // Build the list of files to be added in the array list
            // Objects of type File have to be added to the ArrayList
            ArrayList filesToAdd = new ArrayList();
            //filesToAdd.add(new File("C:\homepage\workspace\passwordprotectedzipfile\profile\profile.txt"));
            filesToAdd.add(new File("C:\homepage\workspace\PasswordProtectedFiles\new.xlsx"));
            //filesToAdd.add(new File("c:\ZipTest\myvideo.avi"));
            //filesToAdd.add(new File("c:\ZipTest\mysong.mp3"));

            // Initiate Zip Parameters which define various properties such
            // as compression method, etc.
            ZipParameters parameters = new ZipParameters();
            parameters.setCompressionMethod(Zip4jConstants.COMP_DEFLATE); // set compression method to store compression

            // Set the compression level

            // Set the encryption flag to true
            // If this is set to false, then the rest of encryption properties are ignored

            // Set the encryption method to Standard Zip Encryption

            // Set password

            // Now add files to the zip file
            // Note: To add a single file, the method addFile can be used
            // Note: If the zip file already exists and if this zip file is a split file
            // then this method throws an exception as Zip Format Specification does not 
            // allow updating split zip files
            zipFile.addFiles(filesToAdd, parameters);
        catch (ZipException e)

    public static void main(String[] args)
        new AddFilesWithStandardZipEncryption();



Without uncompressing, Its impossible to password protect excel which is inside a zip file.

Here is what you can do

  • Unzip the content using tips in What is the best way to extract a zip file using java and Compressing and Decompressing Data Using Java APIs
  • Password protect extracted excel file using tips in Password Protected Excel File
  • Zip the password protected excel file using tips in Java Compress Large File
Saturday, August 14, 2021

If all your workbooks are opened in the same Excel instance (you can check this by checking if you can switch from one to the other using Alt-tab). You can simply refer to the other using Workbooks("[FileName]"). So, for example :

Dim wb as Workbook //for C#, type Excel.Workbook wb = null;
Set wb = Workbooks("MyDuperWorkbook.xlsx") //for C#, type wb = Excel.Workbooks["MyDuperWorkbook.xlsx"];
wb.Sheets(1).Cells(1,1).Value = "Wahou!"
Friday, July 23, 2021

VBA security is widely considered to be pretty poor. The VBA code isn't compiled, and the source is available in the excel file. The password protection is pretty easy to circumvent.

As I understand it, Office 2003 and earlier saves the vba code as part of the binary format of the worksheet (or document / presentation). When you fire up the VBA IDE, it simply looks to see whether the VBA code has been "protected" or not. This doesn't mean it's encrypted - just unavailable for viewing. The theory is that this stops your users from meddling with your code, but a hard-core coder would be able to get around the password.

So Excel doesn't need to unencrypt any code - it just needs to stop people from viewing it.

Office 2007 does encrypt macros (don't ask me how or what algorithm). This is necessary presumably because XLSM files (or any Office 2007 file) are just zip files with a different extension. Anyone can get into those files and poke around.

To answer your last question - how does the password removal work on older Office formats, I'm not entirely sure. Different vendors will possibly approach the problem different ways, but I suspect the most common approach will be a brute-force attack on the passwords until a match is found.

The Excel VBProject object has a Protection property which will return different enumerations depending on the protection status of the macro (vbext_pp_locked if the macro is protected, for example). If you were to keep trying passwords programmatically until the vbext_pp_locked evaluated to false, you would have found your password.

Friday, July 30, 2021

I would recommend using the iText java PDF library.

Inside iText, there is a class called PdfEncrypter which should let you password protect a PDF file.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Figured out the problem.

We have to close the input file before writing back (editing) the same file.

so to edit an existing Excel file with Jexcel

File inp = new File("H://"+file_name);
File out = new File("H://"+file_name);
Workbook existingWorkbook = Workbook.getWorkbook(inp);// This opens up a read-only copy of the workbook
WritableWorkbook copy = Workbook.createWorkbook(out,existingWorkbook); // This opens up a writable workbook so that we can edit the copy
//..........Some writes to excel workbook...........
// Now before writing & closing the copy, first close the existing one
existingWorkbook.close();    // Important: Close it before writing the copy with copy.write();
Saturday, December 11, 2021
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