Excel Viewer Security: How To Keep Your Data Safe

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Microsoft Excel is a powerful tool that millions of users worldwide rely on for various reasons, including financial management, data analysis, and record-keeping. With the advent of the Excel Viewer, it has become even easier for users to access and read Excel files without the need for the full Office suite. However, as with any digital tool, there are potential security risks associated with using Excel Viewer. 

This article will outline 15 tips for keeping your data safe while using Excel Viewer, ensuring that your sensitive information remains secure.

Keep Your Software Up-To-Date

One of the easiest ways to maintain security while using Excel Viewer is by ensuring that your software is up-to-date. Regular updates are released by Microsoft to fix any bugs or vulnerabilities, so it is crucial to check for updates regularly. 

To stay informed about the latest updates, consider signing up for Microsoft’s security bulletin notifications or follow their social media accounts.

Enable Protected View

Protected View is a security feature in Excel Viewer that allows users to open files from untrusted sources in a read-only mode. 

This helps to prevent potentially malicious code from executing on your system. To enable Protected View, go to “File” > “Options” > “Trust Center” > “Trust Center Settings” > “Protected View” and check the boxes next to the desired settings.

Use Strong Passwords

When sharing an Excel file that contains sensitive data, it is essential to use a strong password to prevent unauthorized access. 

A strong password should be a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. It is also recommended to change your passwords regularly and avoid using the same password for multiple accounts.

Implement File-Level Encryption

File-level encryption is an effective way to protect your sensitive data in Excel files. By encrypting the entire file, you can prevent unauthorized users from accessing the file’s content even if they manage to bypass password protection. 

There are several third-party tools available for encrypting Excel files.

Disable Macros

Macros are a powerful feature in Excel that allows users to automate tasks by creating custom scripts. However, they can also be exploited by cybercriminals to spread malware or execute malicious code. To protect your data, consider disabling macros in Excel Viewer. To do this, go to “File” > “Options” > “Trust Center” > “Trust Center Settings” > “Macro Settings” and select “Disable all macros without notification.”

Utilize Antivirus Software

Using antivirus software is a fundamental aspect of maintaining security on any device. Make sure to have a reputable antivirus program installed on your computer, and regularly scan your system for potential threats. 

Additionally, ensure that your antivirus software is up-to-date with the latest virus definitions and security updates.

Be Cautious With Email Attachments

Email attachments are a common method for cybercriminals to distribute malware or malicious files. Be cautious when opening Excel files sent as email attachments, especially from unknown senders. 

Before opening an attachment, scan it with your antivirus software and ensure that it comes from a trusted source.

Limit File Access

To prevent unauthorized access to your sensitive data, consider limiting file access to only the individuals who need it. This can be done by setting up password-protected user accounts on your computer or implementing access control lists (ACLs) on network file shares.

Backup Your Data

Regularly backing up your Excel files is an essential step in ensuring their security. In the event of a security breach or system failure, having a backup will enable you to recover your data quickly and efficiently. 

Store your backups in a secure location, such as an encrypted external hard drive or a reputable cloud storage provider.

Educate Yourself And Your Team

Continuously educating yourself and your team on the best practices for maintaining data security is crucial. Stay informed about the latest security threats and trends by following reputable sources, attending webinars or workshops, and participating in online forums. 

Encourage your team to adhere to security protocols and create a culture of awareness and responsibility.

Use A VPN When Accessing Excel Viewer Files Remotely

When working remotely or accessing Excel Viewer files from an unsecured network, it’s a good idea to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). 

VPNs encrypt your internet connection, ensuring that your data is secure and preventing unauthorized access to your files.

Monitor File Activity

Regularly monitoring file activity can help you identify any unauthorized access or suspicious behavior. Track user access, file modifications, and data transfers to maintain an overview of your data security. There are various tools available for monitoring file activity, such as FileAudit or PA File Sight.

Implement Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra layer of security to your accounts by requiring users to provide two separate forms of identification when accessing sensitive data. 

Implementing 2FA for accessing your Excel Viewer files will make it more difficult for unauthorized users to gain access, even if they have your password.

Restrict Copy-Pasting And Printing Of Sensitive Data

To prevent unauthorized users from copying or printing sensitive data from your Excel Viewer files, consider implementing restrictions on these actions. 

In Excel, you can protect a workbook or worksheet to disable copy-pasting and printing. This can help reduce the risk of data leakage and ensure that your information remains secure.

Use A Secure File-Sharing Service

When sharing Excel Viewer files with colleagues or external partners, make sure to use a secure file-sharing service. 

Look for services that offer end-to-end encryption, password protection, and access controls to ensure that your files are only accessible by authorized users. Some examples of secure file-sharing services include ShareFile, Box, and Tresorit.

In Conclusion

In today’s digital age, data security is more important than ever, and Excel Viewer is no exception. By following these 15 tips, you can significantly reduce the risks associated with using Excel Viewer and keep your sensitive data safe. Remember, a proactive approach to security can prevent potential threats and ensure the integrity of your data. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and prioritize the safety of your information. Balancing convenience and security is crucial in today’s digital world, and taking these steps can significantly improve the protection of your sensitive information.