Scrub hidden metadata in SharePoint docs

By - April 27, 2016

As ECM consultants, we harp on metadata and the importance of having strong data behind your content management strategy. This data becomes critical to the portal and knowledge base by providing relevant search results, driving business process, and enforcing security.

However, with all the data collected around a document (especially sensitive data), how do we ensure that the information stays confidential? A secure environment is one obvious way that we can protect our data but unfortunately, businesses do not just operate within their own walls. They deal with vendors, contractors, legal teams, auditors and customers, to name just a few.

When we don’t have a portal to collaborate and complete the, ‘hand shakes,’ as a part of the typical operations, we usually default to email or some other type of file transfer mechanism. However, the data collected as part of those Office documents internal business processes stay with that document as hidden metadata. They can be found under the File tab of the Office business applications.

HiddenMetadata

This can present a huge risk if the wrong data gets out (think, ‘expected margin,’ or, ‘cost,’ when you are providing a quote). Although, there are some third party plugins, there is no automatic way to remove these properties on the way out using the native Exchange/Office capabilities. This is a case of the out of the box (OOTB) data loss prevention rule. Thankfully, there is a way to remove hidden metadata this within the Office applications themselves:

  1. Go to File > Check for issues
  2. Inspect document
  3. Click on inspect document
  4. Click on remove all
  5. Your document is clean, save and send

While metadata is always important, its is always beneficial to be cautious and understand the limitations of the platform that you are working with. Until Microsoft provides a way to do this as part of the stack, we are stuck with third parties and educating our users about these features.

To find out more about this or other ways that RSM can assist you with your SharePoint needs, contact RSM’s technology consulting professionals at 800.274.3978 or email us.

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