Tips for improved spreadsheet security

While it is a well established fact that spreadsheets are a powerful tool for many organizations, businesses need to know how to use them properly. Failure to do this can lead to a number of problems and result in data becoming susceptible or security errors that can create a number of challenges.

A recent article from Forbes examined spreadsheet security and what businesses need to do in order to handle them successfully.

“Although Excel is an excellent business tool, it still requires careful auditing, particularly as the complexity of a spreadsheet increases,” Jürgen Schmechel told the news source. “By following best practices for spreadsheet use, whether Microsoft Excel or an alternative, many common problems can be prevented.”

The problem is that many organizations have adopted and are using Excel spreadsheets without knowing best practices. The article continues to offer several tips for businesses. These include:

  • Define parameters – By knowing what the goal of the spreadsheet is, companies can ensure that errors like versioning mistakes or allowing the wrong person access can easily be avoided.
  • Audit – This ensures that critical spreadsheets are in the hands of those that need them.
  • Don’t rely solely on document protections – Passwords, hiding or protecting sheets only offers base-level security.
  • Determine sharing requirements – This keeps information from being seen by the wrong eyes.
  • Secure the file level – Use file or directory-based, read-only or edit permissions.
  • Utilize document management – This includes file versioning, testing and approval processes before sharing takes place
  • Check the work – Manually check data entry and custom formulas to correct any and all errors as studies show 90 percent contain at least a small error.

With the help of an Excel consulting firm, any business can improve how they use and secure spreadsheets.