How To: Encrypt shapefiles


For security reasons, you may want to prevent your shapefiles from being freely copied. None of ESRI's software directly provides this capability but there are some options you can explore.


  • Search the Web for third-party encryption software. Some common keywords are "encrypt", "decrypt", "encode", and "decode".
  • Project the data into unrecognizable shapes and locations using the Projection tools of ArcInfo, ArcView, or MapObjects. Re-project the data to its proper location when the application reads the shapefile.
  • Develop an internet application using MapObjects, ArcExplorer, or ArcView as the map server to prevent direct access to data.
  • Write your own algorithm to encode attribute values. Decode the attribute values when reading the data.
  • Write a C application to encrypt your shapefiles using the ESRI Shapefile Technical Description as a guide.

    Once the shapefile has been decoded and resides on the hard-disk, it is available to other applications.

Related Information