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Are you Publishing More than you Think?

Mark Edwards
16-05-2004

Those of us who use Microsoft Word would be familiar with the collaboration tools for things such as tracking changes in a document. These tools are great for producing a large document where a group of people need to review any changes made to it.



If you intend to publish or share the document electronically, say via your web site, the downside to this functionality is that the editing information is still there until you strip it out.



Microsoft offer tools to do this at:

www.atcbiz.com.au/index.php?d=8sut



Whilst most of the changes made to documents are routine corrections there are always things written on particular publications which you would never want to be seen by external eyes. For example, you would not want someone to read the personal notes about your competitors or particular people that are replaced with approved text for public viewing prior to publication.



In a quick online search I found many documents online which still had deleted text available to be viewed through MS Word. These included company reports and other documents which still retained draft edition information.



On a website titled "Strike that out Sam", Michal Zalewski shows the results of searching through a lot of publicly available documents from Microsoft revealed. After running them through wv, a software tool that reveals all the invisible text, he found things like overaggressive marketing, made-up quotes for attribution, and telling edits. Zalewski says he looked at hundreds of Microsoft documents, but posts only a few tantalising morsels.

lcamtuf.coredump.cx/strikeout/



In a corporate environment, this is a difficult problem to solve as people can all too easily attach a document to an email and send it. One technical fix is to install inline filtering tools as part of your mail server software.



If this is an issue you feel needs addressing at your firm please feel free to contact us.

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