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What security concerns arise from importing Excel files into Outlook? RRS feed

  • Question

  • Weekly I arrange conference room scheduling data from our sales system into a table in excel. We have dozens of conference rooms with multiple meetings, so the table can get rather large. I've labeled the table so that everything can easily be imported into my Outlook calendar for more visual analysis and sharing with the department head. 

    Recently IT has set as a group policy barring the import/export feature, noting new security policies. I was able to convince them to add in the feature, but they only allowed the import of .csv files. They noted they could not allow the Excel 97-2003 import (what I use, mostly due to the limitations of the sales software) due to security concerns. 

    I can't figure out what security concerns there could be from importing a internally created excel files drawn from internal software data, but I'd like more professional input as why IT would be interested in blocking this feature with a group policy. Is anyone familiar with why they would incorporate this policy?

    Monday, July 17, 2017 12:41 AM

Answers

  • Thank you for the update.

    Which version of Microsoft Outlook are you using? I understand that we can import from program or file when in the Outlook import wizard, however I can't find an option to import an excel file. This is a screenshot in my Outlook 2016:

    Please also have a look at the following official article:

    https://support.office.com/en-gb/article/Import-contacts-from-an-Excel-spreadsheet-to-Outlook-f6483469-0684-4c30-82c5-c881930f5451

    "Outlook can import comma separated value (.csv) files, but not workbooks with multiple sheets, so step 1 is saving your Excel workbook as a .csv file."

    I understand the real meant of your question, but I haven't found any documentation stating anything about the security concerns. Maybe you can ask your IT guys directly.

    Regards,

    Steve Fan


    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they helped.

    If you have feedback for TechNet Subscriber Support, contact tnmff@microsoft.com.

    • Proposed as answer by Steve Fan Tuesday, July 25, 2017 1:28 AM
    • Marked as answer by Aguynamedtim Tuesday, July 25, 2017 2:44 AM
    Thursday, July 20, 2017 9:30 AM

All replies

  • Hi,

    >>I'd like more professional input as why IT would be interested in blocking this feature with a group policy. Is anyone familiar with why they would incorporate this policy?

    I'm not sure what security concerns your IT department is considering, maybe csv files are just simple text files so that they don't contain VBA modules or macros while Excel files do. However, it's not supported to directly import Excel files into Outlook, we have to convert Excel files to .csv files and then you can import the files into Outlook.

    If I've misunderstood something, please feel free to let me know.

    Regards,

    Steve Fan


    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they helped.

    If you have feedback for TechNet Subscriber Support, contact tnmff@microsoft.com.

    Tuesday, July 18, 2017 7:47 AM
  • Thanks for the reply Steve,

    Outlook, when using the import/export from external program feature, can import from excel. The column headings can be mapped to fields on the calendar and each line in the table becomes a separate calendar event. It's quite convenient actually. 

    I've tried the .csv conversion, but the table elements don't map well and the entries are not created in the calendar. Additionally, .csv doesn't support multiple worksheets. Not a dealbreaker, just inconvenient. 

    Wednesday, July 19, 2017 12:39 AM
  • Thank you for the update. 

    >>Outlook, when using the import/export from external program feature, can import from excel. 

    By 'external program feature', do you mean a third-party add-in or program which is integrated into Outlook? If this is the case, I'm afraid we can do few thing on this in this forum as Excel file is by default not supported to import directly into Outlook. You may try to convince your IT to allow the import of Excel file in Outlook from external program.

    Regards,

    Steve Fan


    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they helped.

    If you have feedback for TechNet Subscriber Support, contact tnmff@microsoft.com.

    Wednesday, July 19, 2017 9:39 AM
  • Thanks Steve,

    When I import I use the import option within the open menu. The import from program or file is an option in the Outlook import wizard. It seemed internal to me, but the behind the scenes may by less secure than I thought. Which is really the meat of my question, I'm looking for where that security concern is, so that I can work with my IT department with a better understanding of their side. 


    Thursday, July 20, 2017 1:46 AM
  • Thank you for the update.

    Which version of Microsoft Outlook are you using? I understand that we can import from program or file when in the Outlook import wizard, however I can't find an option to import an excel file. This is a screenshot in my Outlook 2016:

    Please also have a look at the following official article:

    https://support.office.com/en-gb/article/Import-contacts-from-an-Excel-spreadsheet-to-Outlook-f6483469-0684-4c30-82c5-c881930f5451

    "Outlook can import comma separated value (.csv) files, but not workbooks with multiple sheets, so step 1 is saving your Excel workbook as a .csv file."

    I understand the real meant of your question, but I haven't found any documentation stating anything about the security concerns. Maybe you can ask your IT guys directly.

    Regards,

    Steve Fan


    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they helped.

    If you have feedback for TechNet Subscriber Support, contact tnmff@microsoft.com.

    • Proposed as answer by Steve Fan Tuesday, July 25, 2017 1:28 AM
    • Marked as answer by Aguynamedtim Tuesday, July 25, 2017 2:44 AM
    Thursday, July 20, 2017 9:30 AM
  • I have just realized the folly of my question. We recently updated the system to outlook 2016, and they removed the option to import an Excel file in this edition. I also found out IT guys didn't realize the disconnect and just cited "security concerns" to close out the ticket. 

    Now I just need to determine why .csv doesn't translate my table into calendar events. But,s that a whole other question. 

    Thanks for your help Steve!

    Friday, July 21, 2017 1:05 AM
  • Thank you for the update. 

    >>Now I just need to determine why .csv doesn't translate my table into calendar events. But,s that a whole other question.

    To avoid confusion and keep track of troubleshooting steps, we usually troubleshoot one issue per thread in order to find a resolution efficiently. Regarding this question, I suggest we create a new post via:

    https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/office/en-US/home?forum=outlook

    If possible, please provide a sample csv file so that we can try to test with it in our environment.

    Thank you for your understanding.

    Regards,

    Steve Fan


    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they helped.

    If you have feedback for TechNet Subscriber Support, contact tnmff@microsoft.com.

    Monday, July 24, 2017 1:47 AM