When you write a document in Microsoft Office did you know that with a few simple keystrokes anyone can see the revisions you’ve made and MANY other information about the document you have been working on?
Marcia Okon of SoftWise shared many examples with me of how companies inadvertently exposed what they thought was hidden information, to others.
For example she shared with me an email recounting how The British government of Tony Blair just learned this lesson, the hard way. Alastair Campbell, Blair’s Director of Communications and Strategy, was in the hot seat in British Parliament hearings explaining what roles four of his employees played in the creation of a plagiarized dossier on Iraq which the UK government published in February 2003. The names of these four employees were found hidden inside of a Microsoft Word file of the Iraq dossier which was posted on the 10 Downing Street Web site for use by the press. The “dodgy dossier” as it became known in the British press raised serious questions about the quality of British intelligence before the second Iraq war.
SoftWise creates a program that ensures that Word documents you send to others only contain the information you want it to contain. You might not want a client to see those 40 revisions your legal team did to a contract.
PC World also writes A company called Workshare Technology now offers a free safety net from the potential embarrassment of a public display of these hidden and forgotten comments and changes. The company’s Trace application sends out an alert if hidden information, also known as metadata, is embedded in a Microsoft Office file. When hidden data is identified, a dialogue box pops up from your system tray alerting you. Clicking on the alert message generates a report of all the hidden data inside the file. Workshare Trace, announced early this month, is available for download now.
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