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The Importance of Using Metadata Removal Software
The importance of using metadata removal software, alternatively known as hidden data removal software, has been emphasized in recent years with several high-profile incidents, where sensitive data was leaked through the hidden data stored within files that were sent to other parties by email or were posted on the web. Few of these incidents are described below.
One can safely assume that there were other similar cases, which have not received media attention, where confidential and private information of organizations and individuals has been revealed to other parties due to hidden data, damaged their interests and compromised their privacy without them even being aware of it.
Metadata Identified Google as the Submitter of a PDF File to ACCC
Google submitted a PDF document to The Australian Competition Commission and Consumer
Commission (ACCC) on May 2008, protesting the removal of all payment options except
PayPal by eBay Australia. Google intended the submission to be anonymous, and did
not signed the document, but hidden metadata in the PDF file identified Google as
Microsoft Word Metadata Revealed Reviewer Identity
After submitting an article to a journal in his field, an assistant professor of
classics at Davidson College, in North Carolina, received an e-mail with the reviewer
report attached as a Microsoft Word document, forwarded from the journal's editor.
Although peer-review process is intended to be blind, meaning that authors do not
know who is reviewing their work, the reviewer identity was revealed to the assistant
professor by the metadata that was stored in the Word document.
Presentation Notes Revealed Financial Projection and Future Product
Google published an online slide show on March 2006 with presentation notes that
contained internal secrets about the company projection for advertising revenue
in 2006, and about a future files storage product named GDrive.
Tracked Changes Showed SCO Prepared a Lawsuit Against Bank of America
SCO Group filed lawsuits on March 3, 2004 against DaimlerChrysler and AutoZone,
but tracked changes that were left in the Microsoft Word document revealed that
the original defendant of the lawsuit against DaimlerChrysler was Bank of America.
JPEG Thumbnail Showed Cat Schwartz Topless
Cat Schwartz, an American television personality, published in her personal blog
two JPEG photos of her. The photos were cropped, but hidden Exif thumbnails of the
original images that remained in the files showed her bared breasts.
Tracked Changes Revealed Classified Information
Microsoft Word document that was posted on the website of the Coalition Provisional
Authority (CPA), the American government that ruled Iraq from April 21, 2003, to
June 28, 2004, contained previous version of the document with secret security-related
information in it.
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