News

Hidden data puts business secrets at risk

Antony Savvas

Up to 75% of Microsoft Word documents contain hidden, sensitive information that organisations should delete before allowing the documents off their premises.

The problem arises because organisations either do not know about or do not use a special tool available from Microsoft that erases metadata in electronic documents, which includes changes made to documents before they get published.

Metadata - which does not appear when a Word file is opened in the normal way - could include financial or other sensitive information that could open firms up to financial risks or charges related to non-compliance with data protection regulations.

A survey of companies’ document handling procedures by document management company Workshare has highlighted the problem.

Workshare said around 90% of companies had no idea that information was being leaked through their electronic documents.

Microsoft’s Remove Hidden Data tool for Windows can be used to remove metadata that can otherwise be accessed by those who know where to look.


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