MS Word insecurity bites UK gov't

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by idea_hamster, Aug 18, 2003.

  1. idea_hamster macrumors 65816

    idea_hamster

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    NYC, or thereabouts
    #1
    It seems that the "meta-data" included in MS Word documents isn't all that secure and has led to some embarrasment among UK ministers -- and also to their having "dumped" MS Word in favor of Adobe PDF format for their docs....

    Oh, the *shame* of it!

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/3154479.stm
     
  2. alia macrumors 6502a

    alia

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    Orlando, FL
    #2
    That's totally nuts! I've never heard of that before... damn!

    :eek:
     
  3. Powerbook G5 macrumors 68040

    Powerbook G5

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    St Augustine, FL
    #3
    When will people ever learn *not* to trust Microsoft?
     
  4. idea_hamster thread starter macrumors 65816

    idea_hamster

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    #4
    What I find intereseting is how these programs for other OS's (Antiword and Catdoc for Unix and Linux) don't even seem to have made it onto Microsoft's radar screen. It's almost as if they "test" their programs' security on Windows systems and that's it. MS seems to be aware of this (they have even named this info "metadata") but I'm not sure that they've ever made any attempt to give users a way of saving a version of a document without all that info (akin to P'Shop saving a flattened copy, e.g.).
     
  5. DreaminDirector macrumors 6502a

    DreaminDirector

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    #5
    wow...

    Will people stop trusting M$ now? God, I hope so. How pissed would you be as the British government to have that info leaked like that? I'm never NEVER using MS Work anymore. I used to use it for small projects that had to go to PC people, but I'm not anymore.

    What I dont understand is how the hell can a social security number get into the metadata?
     
  6. idea_hamster thread starter macrumors 65816

    idea_hamster

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    #6
    Re: wow...

    I agree -- that's pretty shocking. But I figure that if somewhere along the installation process someone uses their SSN as an employee ID number and that's who the copy is licensed to, that's all information that can wind up in this metadata.

    It just seems like MS doesn't even pay attention to these things, since these programs that can parse metadata don't seem to be new.
     
  7. DreaminDirector macrumors 6502a

    DreaminDirector

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    #7
    Now it makes we wonder about all of the Word files that I've ever sent out. I mean, I probably have hundreds floating around from the last five years that I've sent to old clients and my college papers. I'm not usually a paranoid guy, but this is just scary.

    And big brother up in Redmond is probably getting relays from these Word docs and using the metadata for marketing purposes. Selling peoples peace of mind for a quick buck...


    AHHH, Conspiracy theories.....
     
  8. idea_hamster thread starter macrumors 65816

    idea_hamster

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    #8
    ...or maybe, with enough meta-data on DreaminDirector, they can create a meta-DreaminDirector! (I think that's what happened to Al Gore :eek: ;) )
     
  9. idea_hamster thread starter macrumors 65816

    idea_hamster

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    #10
    I was a fan of Nisus Writer before OS X, and look forward to using it again. But I have a hard time embracing a word processor that can't do footnotes. Until they come through with a full version for OS X, I'm on the sidelines.

    Do we know what Nisus (or Mariner Write or other text processors) do with/about meta-data? I didn't see anything about it on thier web site.
     
  10. montecristo macrumors member

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    Aug 13, 2003
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    Gotham
    #11
    I imagine that any full-featured word processing program (even Nisus) would have to have some sort of meta-data file or information -- to be able to record formatting info, do version comparisons etc. The key is to have a feature to remove this data before you send it out, once you know it's a "final" document. Like the Hamster said, there should be a way to "flatten" the document. Perhaps a brute-force way would be to select the entire document, cut and paste it to a new document, and then send that out....it will have info on the computer user, but not the history of the edits, etc. Or another way is to get rid of M$. Whichever.
     

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