Type 'metadata leaks' into Google and you will be presented with thousands of examples of law firms, government departments, and political parties that have published documents containing confidential or embarrassing information.
Metadata leaks are preventable. Metadata cleaning software removes metadata from documents, eliminating the risk of unintentional information leakage. Organizations big, small, and solo need to look at metadata management software as a business-critical application in the same way they do Microsoft Word.
The 5 most damaging metadata types
Metadata in documents can be application-generated - author name, creation date, modified date, edit time - or user-generated - comments or Track Changes. Metadata can also be generated in ways that may not seem as obvious, but are just as dangerous.
1. Hidden text
Adding white text on a white background might be invisible to the reader, but it can be easily found and read by selecting all the text and changing the color to black.
2. Embedded objects
When you copy part of an Excel spreadsheet, for example, into a document you may not be aware that you are actually embedding the entire spreadsheet into the document. Double-clicking on the embedded file will expose the contents of the spreadsheet to the reader.
3. Improper redaction
Many people still persist in redacting text and images using a masking technique. Placing a black box or rectangle over text is not the same as redacting. The covered up text can be easily found and exposed by the reader.
4. Document automation
Law firms use document assembly tools to fill in document variables when creating contracts and letters. In many cases, fields added to the document can have hidden metadata associated with them.
5. Cloud collaboration
Firms that need to upload documents to a collaborative workspace in the cloud must make sure documents are cleansed of metadata before doing so.
Metadata management for all users on all devices
The world of email is much more complex than it used to be. Firms need to cover more email exit points including desktop, laptop, smartphone, tablet, and web access email. Adding to the complexity is the rise of BYO devices (BYOD) across a number of industries.
cleanDocs removes more than 100 metadata types from Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, PDF/A and ZIP files in microseconds thanks to new technologies and multi-threaded processing. Administrators can establish enterprise-wide policies to ensure all documents sent from the desktop and mobile devices are cleaned of metadata.
About the author
Kerry leads a global team responsible for DocsCorp's corporate brand, communications, and marketing efforts worldwide. Kerry has a deep understanding of marketing backed by more than 25 years’ experience in various roles within Ireland, the UK, and the U.S. When he isn't working at the DocsCorp Sydney office, he's having a hit of tennis or spending time with his two daughters.