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Windows Operating Systems Software Privacy

Metadata in Vista Could Be Too Helpful 276

linumax writes "Windows Vista will improve search functionality on a PC by letting users tag files with metadata, but those tags could cause unwanted and embarrassing information disclosure, Gartner analysts have warned. Search and organization capabilities are among the primary features of Windows Vista, the successor to Windows XP due out late in 2006. While building those features, Microsoft is not paying enough attention to managing the descriptive information, or metadata, that users can add to files to make it easier to find and organize data on a PC, according to Gartner. 'This opens up the possibility of the inadvertent disclosure of this metadata to other users inside and outside of your organization,' Gartner analysts Michael Silver and Neil MacDonald wrote in a research note published on Thursday."
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Metadata in Vista Could Be Too Helpful

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  • by gardyloo (512791) on Friday December 23, 2005 @10:34AM (#14326609)
    Windows Vista will improve search functionality on a PC by letting users tag files with metadata, but those tags could cause unwanted and embarrassing information disclosure, Gartner analysts have warned.

            Ha-ha! You're using Windows!
    • Yea, well at least my box can't get r00ted

      /windows has no root
      /storms off

    • by truthsearch (249536) on Friday December 23, 2005 @12:00PM (#14327106) Homepage Journal
      Homer: From now on, there are three ways to do things: the right way, the wrong way, and the Windows Vista way.
      Bart: Isn't that just the wrong way?
      Homer: Yeah, but faster!
    • by goombah99 (560566) on Friday December 23, 2005 @12:01PM (#14327114)
      The mac OS (offering previews of the next Windows OS since 1984) already suffers from this problem and so far there are no graceful solutions. Namely spotlight gathers sensitive info in ways I wish it would not. To be specific, I deal with a lot of confidential e-mail that can include personell problems of empoyees. At the same time it's got all my project info on it. When an employee comes to talk about a project I will often search for terms related to the project or sometimes by the employeees name in spotlight while they sit around my screen. Spotlight pulls up the docs and the e-mails onto the same search results screen. Seeing titles of certain e-mails or possibly just the addresses can reveal confidential information or be embarassing.

      As a result I no longer have spotlight index my e-mails. And of course that's a pain in the ass since it means's searhc feature is busted. While I can figure out how to work around that (e.g. don't use, which would be a pity), the story does not end there. Unfortunately, spotlight indexes my backup volumes too, and it can blunder across old mail there and index it.

      Now you might think I could also turn off indexing the backup volumes but there's the rub. First I might not want to. Second, you can't always do it. Spotlight has some bugs in how it handles logical partitions on disks and in particular it sometimes ignores being told not to index a volume if another partitions is being indexed.

      Anyhow eventually there will be more fine grained control on privacy, but then the interface will become more cludgy too. In fact that may just kill the whole fine grained control effort since most folks don't worry about this sort of things and would prefer simplicity.

      It's perhaps worth noting that windows dropped making the filesystem a database (for now). That might be a smart move since making at a wrapper like spotlight means they are less locked into a single search design. Problems like this will emerge slowly and flexibility to plug problems will be needed.

      • by goombah99 (560566) on Friday December 23, 2005 @12:22PM (#14327231)
        Another problem with meta data is the generation of meta data. If people generated their own data they could control what goes into it. But the problem here is that you just don't do it normally. Plus as documents change, get copied and modified and so on it gets out of sync unless you keep modifying it. Last thing most people would want is some rigourous change control protocol for every document and e-mail.

        Which of course means automated meta-data scraping. this leads to the problem of confidential info disclosure. that's obvious. But it also leads to another problem that annoying. When do you update the meta data? when the file is created or modified? a small lag? or in batch overnight?

        On macs you can force a batch overnight search. But the default on is for instant updates. If you add a search term to a document WHILE a search is being performed in another window it will find it! amazing. and very useful too. And it assures things like computers that sleep at night and detachable drives stay indexed.

        But it's also amazingly annoying when you stop doing conventional desktop activities and start doing more unix like things. Tage for example untarring a 30 GB archive with twenty thousand small files in it or something that is generating transisent files in a rapid fire fashion. Well you start untarring and for the first few files it zips along. then suddenly throughput nose dives. Why? you look at your processes and you see MDL the indexing programming is chewing up your disk access.

        You can work around this if you can control the file names and make sure they are ones it will not index. But that's not assured, always possible, and will vary from computer to computer.

        So anyhow there's lots of fine tuning needed on these ubiquitous metadata systems. Fine grained privacy control and fine grained operation modes so it's live in desktop application mode and lags in unix/high performance modes.
      • by Angostura (703910) on Friday December 23, 2005 @12:37PM (#14327326)
        When an employee comes to talk about a project I will often search for terms related to the project or sometimes by the employeees name in spotlight while they sit around my screen.

        It doesn't sound like a metadata related problem to me. It sounds more like a furniture placement issue.

        But seriously, de-selecting 'Mail' in the Spotlight pref pane, should stop spotlight from displaying results in its window, while retaining the full indexing facilities within itself.
      • by truthsearch (249536) on Friday December 23, 2005 @12:40PM (#14327344) Homepage Journal
        By having someone look at your screen it's your responsibility to prevent private info from appearing. The system knows you're logged in, but it certainly doesn't know someone other than you is looking at the information. Just like if you brought up your address book... you should know not to bring up confidential contact information. The system certainly can't take care of that for you.
    • by Koohoolinn (721622) on Friday December 23, 2005 @12:01PM (#14327116) Homepage
      Ha-Ha! Your metadata is showing!
  • The new version of Windows will be insecure???

    Say it ain't so.....
    • by antifoidulus (807088) on Friday December 23, 2005 @10:51AM (#14326707) Homepage Journal
      I know it's trendy here to bash windows, but this is FAR from a windows specific problem. Any file system that contains metadata could enable inadvertant disclosure of information, be it windows, mac, linux etc. The solution basically is to ensure that either a)your users are aware of what metadata is and how it works and to make sure that they get rid of any metadata on sensitive documents that they may send out or b) failing that, don't use the metadata.
      • AFAIK the only two companies that cause people to regularly get publicly humiliated due to meta-data are:
        Microsoft (Office)
        Adobe (PDFs)

        If you can think of any other companies that keep turning up, you let me know.
        • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Friday December 23, 2005 @12:54PM (#14327420)
          Perhaps not coincidentally, those are the only two text document formats that get passed around between corporations.

          I think you're seeing a conspiracy where none exists. If, for instance, AppleWorks suddenly overnight became the most popular word processor ever, and people were passing AppleWorks bills to the local senator over email... well, you'd have the same problem, because AppleWorks (and most, if not all, word processors) keep the same meta-data as Word and PDF does.
      • by LnxAddct (679316)
        Um... did you forget about that other option? Keep metadata specific to the computer. Infact, never have it directly attached to the file data. One simple way to visualize this would say you have a file access table, this table is essentially array with one column being the file name and one column being its beginning sector, one column for file size, and now you just add another column for the start of the metadata and the size of it. Essentially treat the metadata like a separate file that is pointed to b
      • It depends on how the filesystem is designed, actually.

        You COULD make it so that all metadata is acesssible to all users.

        Or, you could make it so that if you don't have access to the file, you don't have access to the metadata for that file, either.

        So it *IS* implementation specific. Sorry.

        Any bets on which approach Microsoft took?

    • I'm shocked (Score:3, Funny)

      by PaxTech (103481)
      <Claude Rains>
      I'm shocked, shocked to see Microsoft prioritizing features over security.
      </Claude Rains>
    • by shawb (16347) on Friday December 23, 2005 @01:01PM (#14327443)
      All I have to say is "Follow the money" on the article

      according to a compilation by Workshare, a maker of software that strips metadata out of files.

      You wouldn't think that they have some invested financial interest in getting the the public overreacted about the dangers of metadata

      Am I being reverse paranoid?
  • Easy solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by crazdgamer (846581) on Friday December 23, 2005 @10:36AM (#14326615) Journal
    If my metadata could be viewed by other people inside and outside my organization, there's an easy solution to this.

    Don't fill out the metadata fields!
    • Re:Easy solution (Score:4, Insightful)

      by shokk (187512) <> on Friday December 23, 2005 @11:05AM (#14326786) Homepage Journal
      Or how about... watch how you tag things!! If you go tagging files "my secret romp with Goatse dude" AND you might be embarrassed about it, then _don't tag it_. However, if you're one to shout that kind of crap out to the world, tag away. I think the old adage still applies: "don't do anything you wouldn't want everyone to see in the news."

      It has everything to do with human behavior and nothing to do with computer security. As it is, desktop search tools are opening up whole avenues to quickly find the secret smut on your desktop. Do you have a Google account AND search history enabled? Go to and do a Search History and see what stuff you've been searching on that Google knows about. You shouldn't have done a search on "merkin".
      • See the problem comes in when MS tries to make it more efficient and more user friendly. I bet you money that most of the metadata will be filled out automagically. Then you get the content provider metadata, so all your pr0n will be tagged "accurately". Amusing stuff. Going to be some red faces come upgrade time.
    • Re:Easy solution (Score:2, Informative)

      by demastri (579215)
      The point is that metadata is useful, or even mandatory, for allowing certain internal workflow or functionality, but sensitive enough that you'd never want that metadata to go out with the published version of the document.

      I've been on both sides of this problem with current Windows/Office implementations - receiving sales or RFP information that included "hidden" revision or comment information intended for another client, or catching similar information in documents heading out the door.

      Within Offi
      • absolutely

        we enfored RHDtool where i work, and it's really a must-have thing... i've mentioned this story in other comments, but it's so illustrative i'll share again:

        this summer, we received some documents from DOJ that were meant to be put on our website... they included revision history data that showed different information about different drafts of the agreement we'd been working on... of course, not every schmo who looks at a document on our website is going to *find* this stuff at all, but it's s

  • I don't get it.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dangerz (540904) <stuff@tild[ ] ['ast' in gap]> on Friday December 23, 2005 @10:36AM (#14326617) Homepage
    Isn't this like saying Airbags are too safe? I thought whole point of metadata is to make it easier to search and find data? How can it be *too* helpful?
    • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Friday December 23, 2005 @10:42AM (#14326654)
      > Isn't this like saying Airbags are too safe?

      Like Big Bird says, remember to put your infants in the back seat, so the "safety" devices don't kill them.

    • by Roofus (15591) on Friday December 23, 2005 @10:52AM (#14326716) Homepage
      I would *hope* ( and no, I didn't read the article ), that the meta data for each file would have the same security permissions as the original file.

      Otherwise, you'd be able to search for the meta data in the private files of other users.
      • That's what I was going to leap in with. Surely 'public' metadata is just that by definition - naming something "Cybersex with Mistress Oct 2005" will not go down well if it's not user-specific, but if you keep it in My Documents (Vista security model treats this like the /home, so it's only you & admins who see it) then surely the metadata won't be visible.
      • Re:I don't get it.. (Score:3, Informative)

        by 1u3hr (530656)
        I would *hope* ( and no, I didn't read the article ), that the meta data for each file would have the same security permissions as the original file.

        I did RTFA. The "problem" is you may deliberately send a file, eg a spreadsheet, but along with the file, Windows will have your indexing info, which may give away more than you want ("generic fuck off message", etc). Of course, this information comes courtesy of a company that has a "metadata cleaning" system they want to sell you. Everyone seems to be think

      • by RetiredMidn (441788) on Friday December 23, 2005 @12:17PM (#14327207) Homepage
        The problem lies in intentionally sharing files that include metadata you don't typically look at, and therefore may be unaware that you're sharing along with the visible content of the file.

        For example, several years ago Microsoft reportedly [] posted its annual report as a Word document, which contained evidence that it was composed on a Macintosh.

        That example is good for a chuckle (OK, maybe a belly laugh for us Mac fanboys), but suppose someone sent a document to a customer that showed it was filed in a folder named "Correspondence with Idiot Customers" without the sender realizing it...

    • How can it be *too* helpful?
      Because it is helpful to me AND to others. Many people do not want to help others find their files or their sorting methods.

      Silly as it sounds, it's possible to be TOO friendly. This is one reason it's fortunate that little children can cry when someone they don't know picks them up and takes them away from their parents.

    • Isn't this like saying Airbags are too safe? I thought whole point of metadata is to make it easier to search and find data? How can it be *too* helpful?

      It is possible for something to be helpful in some instances and harmful in others. Airbags can cause accidents if they go off when something hits the bumper, but would not otherwise have caused a crash. Most likely there are more crashes because of airbags, but fewer serious injuries.

      In this particular case, metadata can be great for finding things but

  • Surprise? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cez (539085)
    Should it be a surprise MS hasn't taken adequate security measures in the "advance" of its operating system that seems like another attempt to compete with google? I say stick to Google Desktop []. And your own directory architecture for organization.
    • by QuaintRealist (905302) <> on Friday December 23, 2005 @10:52AM (#14326712) Homepage Journal
      If you have any kind of data which needs to be kept private (we have HIPPA compliance to worry about at our medical office), using Google desktop is a bit scary. Yes, it allows you to "lock out" certain data sources, but on machines where private data passes in a lot of different formats, things can easily slip through the cracks.

      Of course, we don't have it on our main office machines, because they are running Slackware. Our machines that are locked into Windows for hardware interface reasons had to have Desktop removed from them after a couple of almost-incidents.

      • If you have any kind of data which needs to be kept private (we have HIPPA compliance to worry about at our medical office), using Google desktop is a bit scary.

        How is that scary? It's just indexing data that is already on your computer. The fact that a file is "hidden" in a subdirectory 10 levels deep in an odd file format doesn't make it any more secure, just harder to find. Security by obscurity doesn't work. If a hacker has access to your machine, he can just as easily index your files from the out

        • I'm no computer expert, but I do understand the argument against "security by obscurity" which has to do with FOSS vs closed source software.

          Medicine is different, though. HIPPA basically requires that you use this kind of security (obscurity). Let me give you an example. If I have your (HIPPA protected) chart in the office on my desk, that's OK. If I leave it in the waiting room, it's not. Information does not have to be hidden from a determined (and illegal!) search, because, well, that's illegal, an
  • Oh Great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 23, 2005 @10:39AM (#14326632)
    Now we have a business analyst group trying to direct a computer software company how to write its software. When Gartner starts making new technology or being otherwise reasonably involved in technology, they can have a seat at the table. For now, this is just horrendously bad policy. Anyways, the Microsoft DOC format already contains a horrendous amount of metadata, the full history of changes that led to the current document, among other things. Where's Gartner's whines about that?
    • When Gartner starts making new technology or

      Stop. I presume that some of Gartner's employees have actually done some programming - otherwise why would anyone pay attention to anything Gartner said?

  • by TractorBarry (788340) on Friday December 23, 2005 @10:39AM (#14326638) Homepage
    No... say it ain't so...

    Surely Microsoft aren't adding a feature to Windows without giving thorough consideration as to how the feature will work in a multi user, internet connected, environment ?

    After all they've show time and time again how much they cae about these things :)
  • by archeopterix (594938) * on Friday December 23, 2005 @10:40AM (#14326644) Journal
    My colleague at my former job once sent our boss a report in a file named 'for_dickhead_2003_11'. He changed the file name before attaching it to the email. Unfortunately, a self-reference in the file contents remained, showing the unfortunately chosen first name. Fortunately, our boss just politely reminded him to pick more neutral names, just in case.
    • In your colleagues case it sounds like he may have been able to prevent it, but that is not always so [] with metadata that that vendor includes in your documents.

    • funny but the problem here is not a bug in the software, it's a bug in the user! If he was professional enough not to call others dickhead he wouldn't find himself in that embarassing situation :)
  • Microsoft not thinking about security is news?! Tell me when a microsoft product has reasonable security, that will be news.

    But I suppose that for the protection of the unwashed, we should inform them of new flaws in MS products. ;-)
  • by ShyGuy91284 (701108) on Friday December 23, 2005 @10:41AM (#14326652)
    Nothing worse then searching for one thing, and coming up with a "*ultra-midget-fetish-sex-in-chocolate*" result when your g/f is around.......... That's my biggest gripe of indexers. Too easy to accidently find files. Like search for your g/fs name if you want pictures of her (and she is hooking over your shoulder wanting them), she may see her name come up in a convo between you and your bud that you'd rather her not see.
    • ... which, of course, would only be symptomatic of a deeper-running problem you and your girlfriend have. If you can't openly talk about your sexual interests, and if you have to hide things from each other because the other one'd go apeshit if they knew about them, then you have a bigger problem in your relationship, anyway.
      • if you have to hide things from each other because the other one'd go apeshit if they knew about them, then you have a bigger problem in your relationship, anyway.

        Not necessarily. Even in the healthiest of relationships one often becomes unreasonably annoyed with one's partner, and sometimes that annoyance gets vented to others. There's nothing wrong with (say) griping to a friend over IM that your GF is driving you up the wall because "she just won't fucking shut up about how her clothes don't fit right,

    • by Urusai (865560) on Friday December 23, 2005 @11:56AM (#14327079)
      You need a meta-metadata tag to set your metadata as "private". And in case your g/f gets wise and enables searching for "private" tagged metadata, you need a meta-meta-metadata tag to mark things "private for reals". If she gets wise to THAT, you just need a meta-meta-meta-metadata tag labelled "k biotch, i'm busted, just don't delete mah tubgirl pr0n".
  • Stupidity 101 ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Friday December 23, 2005 @10:43AM (#14326658) Homepage Journal
    Help me out here, but what's so difficult about not storing metadata in-line ?

    After 10 years of M$ Word disclosing secret information, you'd have guessed that "a removal tool" as mentioned in the article is obvious to anyone with half a brain as not good enough.

    Storing the meta-data in a seperate file, or how about with the other metadata (i.e. with the inode) isn't so hard, is it? And it is quite obviously the right thing. There's even a big, red hint right there in your face: It's called meta-data. Might want to treat it different from the actual data, you know?
    • Re:Stupidity 101 ? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Friday December 23, 2005 @10:51AM (#14326710)
      I'm sure I don't really need to point out to a 3 digit UID that Microsoft's other efforts with meta-data (the registry) have been less than stellar. Seems like we're doomed to lack of security or a single point of failure.
      • You don't have to collect all the metadata in one central place, either. You could - when you create a Word file, for example - simply create a second file in addition to the actual document, one that holds the metadata, so you'd have one .doc file and one .mdc (or so) file.

        If you want to guard against stupid l0sers who will only send/save/copy/move the .doc file and then complain that the metadata is gone, put them together in a zip file (and call it .dzp or so); then, someone who wants to remove the metad
        • You've put your finger right on the problem. Either the data and meta-data are in the same file, (no matter what the extension is) subject to the same security concerns we have today, or the meta-data is in a repository somewhere, subject to single point failures and multi-user versioning problems.
        • Re:Stupidity 101 ? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Tom (822)
          Metadata (at least of the kind we're speaking about here) being useful only to one user, which in the windos world means one account on one machine (or network) means there's a simple solution:

          Associate metadata with file in filesystem in such a way that it follows the file around. In other words: Put it in the inode or whatever the windos equivalent is. That way, metadata stay associated, no matter where you move the file to.

          But when you send the file out by mail, FTP or whatever, only the file contents ar
    • Because the whole basis of the Dos filesystem is a strong relationship between the computer file and all the information associated with the file. Files don't have hidden aspects. This is unlike the OS/2 situation where the filesystem supported metadata, the OSX situation where "files" from a ueer standpoint are "really" directories. If new windows filesystem had gone off then we would have a whole new model for files (more like a mainframe). But as is, an office document file is really a large collecti
    • by wombatmobile (623057) on Friday December 23, 2005 @11:02AM (#14326768)
      It's all under control. Just train your users to manage their own metadata [].
    • Wouldn't the MetaData have to be stored seperate from the file? If you put metadata on a text file, then wouldn't that data show up when you opened the file in a text editor? otherwise you'd have to do some fancy stuff with the OS to make sure that it didn't show up. Wouldn't it make more sense to keep all the metadata in one place, so that it could be easily searched, instead of having to scan the whole hard drive just to search the metadata? Are they really planning on storing the Metadata with the fil
    • It is pretty stupid, and I can't see why The World hasn't gone the Reiser4 route of storing metadata as sub-files of the file itself, which can be accessed as a directory to look at its metadata and as a file to read it.
  • by drsmack1 (698392) * on Friday December 23, 2005 @10:43AM (#14326660)
    I find it a little annoying when someone does a "doom and gloom" review of a beta product, focusing on bugs or immature features. Its like doing a review of a building in progress and shouting out: "It has no roof! The rain will come right in! What are they thinking!"
    • Yes, it is a beta product. Which means someone within M$ is wondering why it hasn't shipped, yet.
    • It's a beta, sure, but unless users expressly complain about the business security implications of this issue, it's unlikely MS will do anything to fix it. Remember, they've shown time and time again that ease of use and functionality trump security. To cite some examples, remember single-user of the Win9x days, ActiveX defaulting to "on", Universal Plug-and-Play, file sharing defaulting to "on" for all files, and the built-in passwordless "guest" user access to all of these features. We should thank Gartne
    • You seem to be misunderstanding what a beta release is.

      A beta release is (or at least is supposed to be) essentially a release where the important features are pretty much done, and where the "only" work that's left to do is shake out bugs, tweak minor things, fix documentation and so on.

      It is NOT a release where you put in all sorts of crazy features that you don't actually plan to have in the final product - that would be rather stupid on pretty much every level I can think of, especially the economic one
  • by DogDude (805747) on Friday December 23, 2005 @10:44AM (#14326666) Homepage
    I hear that the 2008 Toyota Prius will have a 7' high spoiler. What's up with that?

    Oh, sorry... I just figured that we're talking about products that are still a few years down the pipe that haven't been anywhere close to finalized yet.

    I don't know about anybody else, but we not only don't evaluate software years before it's released, but we generally wait until the software has been out for at least a year before even looking at it. I don't know what the point is of reviewing a product this early. The only thing that I can figure out is that it's a way to get a few more pageviews.
    • I just figured that we're talking about products that are still a few years down the pipe that haven't been anywhere close to finalized yet.

      MS has committed to an August 31,2006 date, so it better be damn close to finalized.

      Now, chances are they won't make that date, but they've publically said they would.
    • Hi again []. Are you an astroturfer? Funnily enough, when I read the thread, your post was shown immediately after this (later) one []. 'Nuff said.
  • by Mahou (873114) <made_up_address_@ h o t m a i l . com> on Friday December 23, 2005 @10:44AM (#14326667) Journal
    sounds like he's worried about people finding his porn collection when they search for seemingly unrelated things(scat music, majestic horse paintings, old lady jokes, kiddie books and toys, etc). maybe someone should just tell him not to tag that stuff
  • by m93 (684512) on Friday December 23, 2005 @10:47AM (#14326682)

    is to make the metadata attatched to document files viewable only on the Vista installation it was created on. Perhaps it would be possible to have the operating system strip the data off the files that are being copied or moved to other network locations as a precursor to each respective process. In this case, they would also have to work some kind of functionality into the next iteration of Outlook, so that the problem could be stemmed from the email side of things.

    What 3rd party vendors would do to accomodate this is anyone's guess.
    • by slashname3 (739398) on Friday December 23, 2005 @10:56AM (#14326737)
      Oh, that would be good. Play "try and modify the file when we think it is being sent off this system". Yet another kludge with lots of holes. Can you say zip files?

      This is just another example of disclosures from the past where change log information was left in documents released to public forums. Very interesting info disclosed in some of those word documents. Must be standard procedure now for lawyers to check the change log info on documents they are sent.

      And if people don't fill out the meta data info the fancy new search capabilities won't be as useful so why have them?
    • That would defeat the intents and purposes of metadata in a multiuser (read: most offices) environment...
  • Yawn, non-story (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mopslik (688435) on Friday December 23, 2005 @10:50AM (#14326699)
    For example, a user might use "good customers" and "bad customers" as keywords on contract files. If such a contract is sent to the customer with the keyword still attached, it could cause embarrassment or even loss of business, the analysts wrote.

    How is this different than naming your file "Invoice for Asshole Larry.doc" and mailing it to the client? Simple solution: don't put potentially embarassing stuff in the metadata fields.

    Do people really need an analysis to tell them this?

    • Yes. Of course you need someone to tell them this.
      1. People are dumb
      2. People think they will delete it later. They will not
      3. See #1
      4. Profit

      I'm not sure how companies ever get out of the stupidity loop, but somehow they get to #4. Companies are constantly hiring high-priced consultants to tell them things that may in hindsight seem obvious, but it really is a matter of experience.

      A company that has never been burnt by poorly managed meta-data won't really give a damn unless they have someone thinking ahead.

  • by G4from128k (686170) on Friday December 23, 2005 @10:50AM (#14326700)
    I've often been amused by what appears in the Properties pane of Word document sent by clients or what you can dredge up from Track Changes. Evidence of re-used documents, other projects, other clients, and deft attempts at redaction abound in the hidden metadata and edits.

    The more data a computer saves (especially if hidden from plain site), the greater the chance of embarrassment and unintended leakage of sensitive info.
    • by C10H14N2 (640033) on Friday December 23, 2005 @11:09AM (#14326810)
      ...and these are a few of the many reasons why I print to PDF and never, ever, ever send MS Word files.
      • From Our Friends At ThePirateBay
        iRacing: letter [] (yes, they sent us a PDF) our response [] (the actual response was a 1MB BMP file, but well...)
        • I suppose having correct fonts, layout and pagination regardless of platform or output device must really be bothersome, to say nothing of being free from macros, much less macro viruses.

          Seriously, what the hell bugs people so much about PDF?
      • ...and these are a few of the many reasons why I print to PDF and never, ever, ever send MS Word files.

        Now *there's* a solution I can get behind!

        From this point on, I am exporting all my shared .doc files as giant GIFs. No harm no foul.

        (If it seems like I'm joking... I am. But only sorta.)

        • Christ, why the hell does PDF get people's panties in such a bunch? It has a purpose for which it serves very well--disseminating _final_ documents intended for printed output that are not intended to be edited. Basically, think of it as a 21st Century FAX.

          I mean, you might as well say "How dare you send me this bottle of Chateau D'Yquem. I mean, wine in a bottle? Geez, now I need a corkscrew. Why couldn't you send me a box-o-wine so I wouldn't have to go to all this trouble?" Uhm, yeah, you need an extra t
  • by paologat (844520) on Friday December 23, 2005 @10:52AM (#14326714)
    Adding flexible metadata at the level of files does not seem such a good idea to me, especially for files that need to be transmitted or shared with others. Catalogation systems are going to be different from user to user, and from organization to organization - which is going to be messy if you mix multiple systems together.

    Having something like "post-it notes" that do not stick to the file, but instead are part of the directory entry for that file, might be more useful and safer. If someone sends me a file, I don't want that person's metadata to pollute my classification of files.

    That's somewhat like what happens with e-mail - I receive plenty of mails that the sender marked as "high priority", but that are low priority to me. Metadata on the file should be objective; subjective information should be stored somewhere else and not be transmitted together with the file.

    • by Photon Ghoul (14932) on Friday December 23, 2005 @11:14AM (#14326837)

      In the interestation of securitization, the catalogation of the nation's datation should not be left to the ineptitudination of incompetentation corporatizations with a historicalization of not giving full thoughtfulination to securitization.
    • Adding flexible metadata at the level of files does not seem such a good idea to me, especially for files that need to be transmitted or shared with others. Catalogation systems are going to be different from user to user, and from organization to organization - which is going to be messy if you mix multiple systems together.

      What makes you say that? MP3 files, and their ID3 tags, don't seem to be an issue really?

      I like the concept of metadata in the filesystem because it moves beyond the 'folder barrie

  • Allchin said those enhancements--along with a reduction in the number of times customers have to reboot their machines and other features--will mean that companies that move to Longhorn will be able to cut their operating costs. Of course, he added, "that's up to us to prove."

    Got that? To cut your operating costs, pay Microsoft some more money for some Longhorns.

  • Company policy. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JVert (578547) <> on Friday December 23, 2005 @11:01AM (#14326762) Journal
    We never send any raw documents out to customers. We always print them to PDF first. Looking back I wonder if there is still a chance private data could be leaked, that somehow PDF layers the hidden stuff underneath and if someone were to peel back the top.

    But this will just be an extension to that policy to check for any meta data.
    • Looking back I wonder if there is still a chance private data could be leaked, that somehow PDF layers the hidden stuff underneath and if someone were to peel back the top.

      For the most part, no. PDF files do, however, support the concept of layers (which must be explicitly created by the authoring program). The only security issues I've seen with this is where people layer black boxes over text to censor them, not realizing the information under the boxes is still there and readable. This has caused se

  • This is bull (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Nex6 (471172)
    Even the much vuanted google desktop had information discloser issues.
    as this type of technology comes to the mainstream its to be expected the early stuff may have a bug or two. (see: google desktop)

    and here they are slamming microsoft for a new feature people are asking for. and telling them how to do it, when they have no idea on how hard this kind of thing is to do from a software engineering perspective.

    I mean sheesh The product is in BETA, make a bug report to microsoft as a beta tester if you find a
  • by Mulletproof (513805) on Friday December 23, 2005 @11:05AM (#14326783) Homepage Journal
    "but those tags could cause unwanted and embarrassing information disclosure, Gartner analysts have warned."

    Oh, you mean more embrassing than finding cookies and cached images from pr0n sites and the like? Unless you're considering self comments like "he's so hawt! I'd so tap that!" Not that you that most people's surfing already involuntarily discloses their personal data like a sieve.

    I'd be less concerned about people appending credit card numbers and such to files, not embrassement.
    • A review of the "properties" feature on this electronic document reveals that it was written by Rob Pelletier of Diebold Election Systems, then sent to Black Box Voting from the Secretary of State's office.

      It is the position of Black Box Voting that the vendor should not control the testing of this system.

      Lobbyists and Corps have a long history of writing legislation etc and literally giving it over to our public representatives.

      Still dissappoints me though.
      One day I'll be jaded enough to say "whatever"

  • Here is quick fix (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ilgaz (86384) on Friday December 23, 2005 @12:44PM (#14327373) Homepage
    drwx------ 8 root admin 272 Dec 23 03:39 .Spotlight-V100

    Yes, if they manage to apply rights based system system wide, something like OS X, it won't be problem.

    I mean if they are stealing, steal it completely :)

    Note I had to 'sudo ls -la' to see it even.
    (os x 10.4 "tiger")
  • by penguin-collective (932038) on Friday December 23, 2005 @12:55PM (#14327424)
    Allchin stressed that Microsoft has broken new ground in Longhorn. For example, document icons are no longer a hint of the type of file, but rather a small picture of the file itself. The icon for a Word document, for example, is a tiny iteration of the first page of the file. Folders, too, show glimpses of what's inside. Such images can be rather small, but they offer a visual cue that aids in the searching process, Allchin said.

    Kind of like Gnome has been doing for a few years now? How out of touch are these people???

Dealing with the problem of pure staff accumulation, all our researches ... point to an average increase of 5.75% per year. -- C.N. Parkinson