Metadata is the invisible man of file-sharing; most people are unaware of it, but it has the potential to do some serious damage. Lying low inside documents and files, metadata can consist of anything from comments, tracked changes revision marks and document properties, to personal information such as author names, company details, headers, footers, watermarks and more. Getting rid of metadata is for your own good really, here’s why:
1. Word Might Fail You
Most people think of Microsoft Word as the mother of all word processing applications ever; she’ll always look after us, right? Surprisingly, misuse of Word’s “track changes” feature is one of the most common causes of escaped metadata. Most users don’t realise that you must accept changes and turn the tool off before attaching the document to an email in order to avoid that moment of despair when you realise you’ve just sent something you shouldn’t have.
2. Preventing Unnecessary Slip-ups
The SRA states that a lawyer shouldn’t reveal information relating to representation of a client unless they consent to it themselves. Therefore, accidentally sending a client’s details with an email as metadata is less than ideal. In an age where technology is part of our daily existence, it’s easy to get complacent about sharing data with others. Sifting through every detail is a time-consuming process, so removing metadata altogether is the best way forward.
3. Keeping Out of the Headlines
The media love a good data blunder, so it’s preferable not to give them something to shout about. Metadata can be a powerful weapon if it falls into the wrong hands, and email is the smoking gun. One of the most recent metadata “shamings” occurred in the UK general election, where a letter of “support” for the Conservative party “signed” by 5000 small businesses actually turned out to be sent by the party itself.
4. Skinny File Sizes
If you’re still not concerned about sending out personal data to others, the fact that metadata is an extra weight on your files might convince you to remove it. Metadata, especially that of image formats such as JPEG is often held in a separate file, so results in more bandwidth being used up on your computer than necessary.
5. What You Can’t See Can Hurt You
Without getting super morbid, metadata is definitely something to keep in mind when sharing files with others if you want to keep your back covered. If you’re prone to forgetting, it might be worth investing in metadata removal software to do the job for you. Workshare Professional 9 integrates itself to your DMS. It’s “Interactive Protect” feature allows you to choose which metadata to remove, or if you’d rather, it can automatically clean documents so you don’t even have to think about it.