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metadata security

Metadata security is the body of practices and policies designed to protect an organization from security risks posed by unauthorized access to information contained in the organization’s metadata.

Metadata is defined as “data about data.” It adds information to data that makes it possible to process it automatically and to effectively find, categorize, share and reuse it, among other things. However, metadata that is accessed by unauthorized parties can pose a significant risk to businesses. Here are a couple of potential scenarios: A potential supplier who accesses metadata in a contract document might learn sensitive details about internal deliberations that put the supplier in a stronger negotiating position.  Opponents in a legal dispute could discover internal discussions about the weak points in an argument.

Document metadata can contain the names of authors and modifiers, the dates of creation and changes and file size. Editing features like the "Track changes" option in Word generate more complex metadata that includes edit changes, revision histories and comment exchanges between authors and editors. Because that content may contain sensitive information, it's important to be aware of metadata security measures and take appropriate steps to protect corporate data assets from unauthorized access. 

One important measure, document sanitization, is the process of ensuring that only the intended information can be accessed from a text-based file before the document is delivered or shared. 

See also: metadata management

This was last updated in August 2014

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