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Human error in Excel leads to massive data breach

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Human error in Excel leads to massive data breach

One of the hardest parts of mastering any business software is keeping staff skills up-to-date. This can be a problem for any organization because a manual error in a spreadsheet can have widespread ramifications.

According to an article from ZDNet, the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s website mistakenly displayed the full names, nationalities, locations, arrival dates and boat arrival information of nearly 10,000 asylum seekers. It went unnoticed and was only removed when The Guardian notified the organization that there was a problem.

So far, 90 of the asylum seekers have lodged cases in the Federal Court against the department claiming that the breach exposed them to persecution from their home countries. They are hoping this will entitle them to immediate protection.

So the question becomes, how did this happen? KPMG examined the incident and released a report about their findings. According to the study, it was human error. The data was collected in an Excel spreadsheet that was passed around. This information was transported into several charts and graphs that were added to the Word document and the Excel template. However, along the way, someone not familiar with the process got involved because a deadline was approaching and the private data was included.

The document then went through several checkpoints without being noticed and was published.

With the help of a company that can run an Excel training program, any organization will be able to ensure that common mistakes and more complex security concerns are understood and avoided.