Online document search reveals secrets

  • New Scientist – Online document search reveals secrets .

    Many documents published online may unintentionally reveal sensitive corporate or personal information, according to a US computer researcher.

    Simon Byers, at AT&T's research laboratory in the US, was able to unearth hidden information from many thousands of Microsoft Word documents posted online using a few freely available software tools and some basic programming techniques.

    Sophisticated editing programs will often store information in a document file that the end user will not see. Storing recently deleted text can, for example, make editing a more efficient process. But Byers says it could also expose unaware users to significant risks.

    In his report, Byers suggests that a crook could analyse electronic documents to gather information that could help them carry out corporate espionage or steal someone else's identity to commit fraud.

    “It is feasible that an individual may include their social security number on copies of a resume sent to prospective employers, but delete it from the version put online to guard against identify theft,” Byers writes.  [Privacy Digest]

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