Microsoft Document Inspector Sniffs Out Hidden Data in Office Files
New tools for Excel, PowerPoint and Word lower the risk that users share more than they bargained for.Office files are a trove of metadata and other hidden information. If not managed properly, they can reveal more about an organization than users intend, potentially landing them in hot water. In updates for Office 2013 and 2010, Microsoft has added new tools to the Document Inspector feature in Excel, PowerPoint and Word, announced Steve Kraynak, a Microsoft Office program manager. Document Inspector enables Office users to prepare "documents, presentations, or workbooks for publishing and sharing by checking for items that may contain hidden or private information," he explained in a Dec. 9 blog post. "In some cases, it will remove such items from your document; in other cases, it alerts you even if it can't automatically remove the items," continued Kraynak. With the addition of several new inspection modules, users can now uncover embedded documents, macros, forms and ActiveX controls in Excel, PowerPoint and Word Files. Excel users also gain the ability to detect a lengthy list of document attributes, including links to other files, PivotTables, PivotCharts, cube formulas, slicers and timelines (Excel 2013), to name a few.
It's worth poking around using Document Inspector, according to Kraynak. "Macros (VBA Code), forms, and ActiveX Controls may contain personal or private information that is not readily visible in your document, but someone who goes looking would be able to find it," Kraynak wrote.