Remove metadata to prevent data breaches
Metadata is a data protection risk most people aren’t aware of. The most important thing to know is it can cause inadvertent leaks and compliance breaches. And, without metadata management, every email you send could be putting you at risk of severe financial penalties and professional damage under new laws and regulations.
Every document contains metadata. Metadata tells the reader more than what is typed on the page. It can tell the reader who created the document, how long was spent editing it, and where the document is saved. Metadata that provides clues to a person’s identity should be kept secure. Exposing this kind of information can do more than damage a reputation, it can lead to significant fines under new global regulations like the GDPR. To comply with strict data protection regulations, organizations should clean metadata from shared files and email attachments, so they become as secure as information printed on a piece of paper.
These six types of dangerous metadata could be putting you at risk
Hidden or poorly redacted text, like white text on a white background, is easily found
Embedded objects, like part of an Excel spreadsheet, can be exposed by simply double-clicking
Author tracking data can inadvertently expose someone’s identity and breach their privacy
Comments and Track Changes in a document can expose information never meant to become public
Email addresses and telephone numbers in custom defined fields can be highly personal data
The names of authors, contributors, and computers can reveal someone’s identity and constitute a breach
A visual guide to dangerous metadata
Individually, metadata might seem harmless, but when pieced together it can be incredibly damaging. Learn more about the risks of metadata when documents are emailed or uploaded to the internet and prevent serious damage to your business.
How does metadata management prevent data breaches?
Metadata is most often leaked through file-sharing behavior like uploading a document to the cloud or emailing an attachment. Metadata management doesn’t have to change how you work in email, but it can ensure that damaging information is cleaned from a file before it leaves an organization. The market is flooded with email security products, but they will only protect you after you’ve sent the email – which is often too late. Email users need a solution that steps in before the email has a chance to leave their Outbox if they want to be fully protected against metadata leaks.
The most comprehensive metadata management solution is an email add-in that prompts users to scrub attachments of metadata before they click Send. Adding metadata management at this point gives an extra line of defense against human error – the leading cause of data breaches worldwide – and forgetfulness.
Metadata cleaners can remove more than 100 metadata types from Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, and PDF/A documents with no email downtime for users. Use a metadata cleaner to remove unseen information, convert spreadsheets to PDF to remove hidden cells or tabs but keep the displayed data intact, or add a password for additional security.
Manage metadata and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing every shared file is as secure as a printed piece of paper.