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Spreadsheets Cracking Through Due to Inadequate Security Scrutiny

Security efforts are being employed on an urgent basis to ensure that
sensitive corporate data stored in spreadsheets and 'business
intelligence' tools remain safe. This is in light of the emergence of
multiple functional laptop threats and security violation that some IT
companies are introducing new security initiatives. As, more employees
obtain command on BI tools and spreadsheets.

Several incidents as instances of above breaches have occurred. On 26
August 2006 'Verizon Wireless' inadvertently disclosed sensitive data of
nearly 5,000 customers. A laptop database was stolen from the U.S.
'Department of Veteran Affairs', containing unsecured spreadsheets of
personal information of some 26 million veterans.

According to analysts' and users' experiences the commonest method used to
analyze corporate data is spreadsheets or excel sheets. They are
increasingly used for advanced BI functions. They also said that in
general cases omnipresent applications and the conventional BI tools were
not put under the same security scrutiny as 'transactional systems' and
'Web applications'.

The major problem in corporate culture is that spreadsheets are considered
as end-users' resources. Corporate shortsightedness causes failure of
strict security of spreadsheets leading to their leakages. Often data
prepared in the spreadsheets have been drawn from the corporation's very
private data, i.e., its central 'data warehouse' (DW) with the help of a
BI tool. This technique is in a way accessing business user's PC where
employees alter the data to prepare reports and share their analysis with
seniors and management. With recurring handling of central data, the value
and veracity of the data starts to diminish.

In the view of Raichura, director of information services a huge amount of
BI data is apparently more in the hold of employees than it was five years
ago. There is a lack of understanding among the average users outside IT
about the effect that can follow from downloading such data.

For several years now, BI vendors have been building tools to replace
spreadsheets for querying, reporting and analyzing data results.
Surprisingly, while a multitude of BI tools have been sold, spreadsheets
are still the most preferred and prominent tool used by data makers.

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