Your documents may contain hidden information
There is more information than you can believe in many of the files that a company’s employees attach to their email… They contain not only the text you see directly, but also hidden data called metadata, which is simpler data describing data!
Metadata in documents can contain sensitive information that could potentially cause great harm to the company if it gets into the wrong hands. On average, about 10% of all business-related emails contain such, potentially harmful, information according to recent statistics.
This metadata can include information such as the document’s author, date when it was created, previous versions, pasted text, deleted text, traceable changes, and comments. You can also see who sent and received the document via email!
Virtually all file types contain metadata. Due to their wide spread and use in companies, files from Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF files and images are the most likely to contain potentially harmful metadata.
The consequences of unconsciously releasing hidden data can range from less embarrassing to astronomically costly!
In the latter category we find the drug giant Merck where metadata found in a document proved that they had deliberately erased cardiovascular risk information when using the drug Vioxx before submitting information to the New England Journal of Medicine.
This resulted in Merck having to pay $ 950 million in damages and plead guilty to the criminal charge, according to The New York Times.