Between state-sponsored hacking battalions and rogue code-wielding criminals, the worldwide web is beginning to feel like World War III. And your spreadsheets just may be the easy prize the bad guys are after...

With the daily onslaught of cyber criminals pounding on your firewall, cybersecurity is the new normal. On the assumption someone does penetrate your firewall, or is inadvertently let in, the target is usually sensitive data. And too often that data is left exposed and vulnerable on unprotected spreadsheets.

In just the last few years, Sony felt the legal, financial and PR pain when hackers made private emails and spreadsheets public. The government of Canada saw spreadsheets revealing individual taxpayer’s charitable contributions made public. Stanford Hospital patients had private information on their health history released publicly in a spreadsheet. And most recently, the outcome of the last American presidential election may have been influenced by hackers leaking sensitive data, some of which was contained in spreadsheets.

Give the reality that some of your company’s most sensitive data often lives on spreadsheets, the prudent thing to do is to take proactive measures to protect it. CIMCON and others offer software solutions that provide spreadsheet controls to automate the task. But whichever way you go, there are 3 fundamental steps you need to follow to make your spreadsheet data safe:

  1. Use scanning technology to survey and document your spreadsheet domain.
  2. Systematically analyze and identify the spreadsheets that contain sensitive data.
  3. Better protect and monitor these spreadsheets or take steps to delete them.

Given that there are literally millions of attacks launched every day, and end users are still prone to click on malicious links, odds are in the hackers’ favor that they will find a way in. But if you implement some very basic spreadsheet management and spreadsheet security steps to help further protect your sensitive data, that’s one less nightmare scenario you need to worry about.