The Plusses and Deltas of Document Metadata

Metadata is a term that is used to describe any essential information specific to any data or file. It is typically embedded on the content of the file itself, thus making it easier for users to recognize what information to use. Embedded metadata are frequently used in most programs that create documents, particularly Microsoft Word, and Microsoft SharePoint among other Microsoft Office applications. Such programs save metadata with the document files, and usually contain the author of the document, the name of the person who recently made changes to the file, and the number of times it was accessed and printed. These items are also called “document metadata”.

Literally, anyone can view and edit document metadata and this can be done by clicking on FILE on the Menu bar, then PROPERTIES. The specifics of the document file will then appear on a dialog box that contains a SUMMARY tab where anyone can view the metadata fields such as TITLE, SUBJECT, CATEGORY and so on. But then again, having these data embedded on files may also lead to undesirable disclosures, which in turn compromises the privacy and security of an individual or a company plus the confidentiality of the information. This is usually a result of unsafe leaking of sensitive data sent through the internet and other media gateway. As a result, people are now more cautious that they make use of “metadata removal tools” to clean documents before they are sent. Indeed, metadata has also its fair share of drawbacks.  Therefore, it is very important to be wary all the time so as to avoid being in a very compromising situation.

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