RiskAs the UK prepares for the upcoming general election, the media is alight with electoral debates, interviews and press briefings from parties across the board. Each party’s portrayal by the media is crucial. At this time, a metadata blunder, the inadvertent sharing of hidden data in a document, could be damaging.

The Conservatives came under fire yesterday after a letter of support, signed by 5,000 small businesses and published by an independent UK Newspaper, was found to have come from the party itself. Metadata, stored in the letter posted on the Daily Telegraph’s website, revealed that the document had been both authored and sent to the newspaper from the Conservative Campaign HQ "CCHQ Admin".

The letter was declared "propaganda", "a shambles" and "a political stunt" by journalist Andrew Neil, who cornered Tory financial secretary to the treasury David Gauke on the BBC's Daily Politics programme.

Many people don’t know what metadata is , yet it exists within every document we create and has the potential to cause serious harm. Metadata not only includes details about who created a document, when it was last modified, file locations etc. but can also include hidden tables and white text within other file formats, such as excel.

Document metadata leaks can lead to a loss of confidence, angry clients, and reputational damage. Even lawsuits can result, if social security or personally identifiable information is involved. 

Protect yourself from hidden metadata. Scan your documents to see what metadata you might be exposing.

Related blog: 5 Metadata Blunders of 2013 .

Holly Mills