The perils of Metadata in documents



Loose lips sink ships, so the old saying goes. These days documents are emailed back and forth and many times, revisions are made to “polite the text” up or “sanitize” or “redact sensitive information”. With many file formats though, the metadata about the revisions (or even the old versions of the data itself) are still there. The Security Fix has a great article on the topic today.


I remember a story several years ago about businesses being burned by revision changes that still existed in the Word document that was mailed out. (Application letters that had been changed for several employers/position availabilities with salary info/interoffice memos with poorly chosen comments about coworkers/bosses and even security breaches of sensitive information.)

What to do???? Brian gives some good links to Adobe’s site and information on finding metadata in pdf documents, Microsofts how-to find and remove meta-data for Microsoft Office documents, Harlan Carvey’s site on locating metadata in Windows and online (this link not currently working?) and a good freeware find…. Trace which is for finding documents with metadata online on an intranet, or on your pc. Like I said, this last one looks like a great piece of freeware.

It looks like the above are good reads for people that work with getting documents out to the public, or work in an organization that sends documents out to the world.

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