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Content Security Risks

Content Security is about monitoring and controlling the electronic information entering or leaving an organization. Content security issues include transmission of confidential data, protection against viruses and spam, encryption/data security, filtering content, improving network performance, and reducing an organizations exposure to legal liabilities.

Corporations today face risks from situations they might not even be aware of that puts their corporation at potential harm. The electronic movement of information between employees and people outside the company is a fundamental requirement for most organizations. The Web, and the use of e-mail, has simplified the process, but has also opened up corporate vulnerabilities.

Unmonitored content leaving the corporation without the knowledge of the IT department introduces legal and competitive risk. The current lack of content filtering and monitoring makes it difficult to discover potential breaches of policy, the sharing of confidential information and to hold individuals accountable.

Document Security Risks

The risks associated with metadata within electronic documents are often overlooked when looking at content security. There are many different types of metadata, including metadata about websites, metadata about video files, and metadata about electronic documents. Document metadata describes document attributes such as the title, author, content, location, and date of creation. Knowing this information can be helpful when cataloging electronic information. But metadata can also share confidential and potentially embarrassing information with an unintended audience.

It’s often possible to view a history of every change ever made to a Microsoft Word document during its lifetime. Information can include edits made by others, comments placed in it by you or your co-workers, as well as over 20 other types of hidden information.

Types of Document Metadata

  • Track Changes: Inserted or deleted text you thought was gone
  • Comments
  • Your name
  • Your initials
  • Your email address
  • Your company or organization’s name
  • The name of your computer
  • The name of the network server or hard disk on which you saved the document
  • Other file properties and summary information
  • The names of previous document authors
  • Document revisions
  • Document versions
  • Template information
  • Hidden text
  • Macros
  • Hyperlinks
  • Routing information
  • Non-visible portions of embedded Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) objects

“Every Microsoft Excel, Word, and PowerPoint document contains a variety of information that remains present, but hidden, until you remove it or someone else extracts it. And therein lies the problem: If you plan on sharing or publishing your Office document, you may be sharing more than you intend.” – PC Magazine.

Learn More:

The Dangers of Document Metadata: Risks to Corporations

Corporations today face risks from situations that are either under their direct control or from conditions that they might not even be aware of that puts their corporation at potential harm. An example of the latter is document metadata—hidden information contained in Microsoft® Office documents including Microsoft® Word, Microsoft® Excel, and Microsoft® PowerPoint files. Whenever a document is created, edited, or saved, metadata is automatically added to the document. This information is transmitted every time a document is emailed to parties, both internally and externally to the corporation.

Download PDF here »

Metadata: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

By: Donna Payne

This article discusses Microsoft-embedded metadata, Corel WordPerfect and Adobe Acrobat. Metadata exists in all three of these applications, as well as other software programs. And in this case, what you don’t know can hurt you.

Download PDF here »

How to Remove Metadata from Your Documents

For additional information about removing metadata from your documents, view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

WD2000: How to Minimize Metadata in Microsoft Word 2000 Documents WD2003: How to minimize metadata in Word 2003