In the annals of history, mythology and fiction someone has always been assigned the arduous task of gatekeeper of information. In ancient Greece, sage sibyls like the Oracle of Delphi, Pythia veiled her revelations to those seeking the god, Apollo’s favor. To those who could glean approval from the seer’s sacerdotal message, victory and conquest were assured. Advantageous information is there if you know where to look, this is data’s potential weak point, its Achilles heel, and it’s called meta data.

Meta data is literally “data about data”, it’s information that describes another set of data that provides information about or documentation of other data managed within an application or environment (1). The metadata information is stored within each file created.

Computer software from Microsoft Office applications like Word and Outlook to the widely used graphics programs of Adobe CS’s Version Cue and Adobe Bridge capture this meta data information to track document use. Metadata describes how and when and by whom a particular set of data was collected, and how the data is formatted.

It tracks the authors, machines, and versions of Office used to create a document. Many collaboration features, including comments and revision tracking, result in significant amounts of metadata being included in documents (2).

Metadata is essential for understanding information stored in data warehouses and has become increasingly important in XML-based Web applications. This automatically generated information is probably more than you or your business wants to disclose. For example, you create a job proposal template, this is sent out to each prospect only changing the client’s name and bid price. Each time this document is reused, each person receiving that over email could access the previous prospects information losing jobs to your firm.

The complexities of meta data are even more compounded in industries like legal, medical and financial fields where monetary fines are attached for intentionally or unintentionally sharing private information. Unintentional trade secrets amongst chemical or pharmaceutical companies could wash away time and research dollars invested in a project. Between a client and lawyer, leaked litigation information could derail court proceedings. Patient information on forms or diagnosis notes can be used for identity theft. Even your financial security is in jeopardy if your broker or financial planner is careless with the electronic files kept in their firm’s database.

Each of these potential weak points can be an open chink in your business’s armor. Preventing these weak points of data transmittal and arming your business intelligently allows you to lessen the impact of sharing documents with colleagues, clients and potential clients.

Even in ancient times the arena of commercial competition outlasting one’s rivals. The agoras (malls) of the ancient world were among the fist to take advantage of mass-marketing from carved walkways, signage on pillars and placing information kiosks all to out-do their competition. Security in the ancient world may have been a godly altar or burly man named Herakles (or Hercules).

Protection of intellectual property, creativity, and innovation today is as imperative as it was for the ancients. Success in business means not only creating a viable product or service, but also protecting innovations you business creates within that market.

Protecting your digital assets through digital rights management (DRM) software ensures the possibility of creating future business endeavors. With the growing number of trojans, viruses and malware, the need for a company to secure and control its digital assets is greater than ever before.

Small business entities are an integral part of the American and global commercial landscape and need to protect their creative capital:

  • Small Businesses produce 13 to 14 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms.
  • Employ half of all private sector employees.
  • Pay 45 percent of total U.S. private payroll.(3)

But how can a small or medium sized business invest in expensive ERM solutions? Rights management solutions can now be for small to medium-sized businesses or sole-proprietorships too. SBRM solutions provide businesses of a smaller scale an equal level of user rights management and encryption previously available to large corporations and enterprises. ERM or SBRM software gives content authors the power to determine how recipients may use their documents and email. For example, senders can prevent unauthorized distribution (no forwarding, printing) and prevent unauthorized editing (no cut, copy, paste) of content, i.e. copy prevention.

Sharing proposals, information, or other businesses assets no longer has to be one’s Achilles’ heel. This weak point can be strengthened and the integrity of a business is kept in tact through actively using Rights Management tools.

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End Notes:

1.) definition from

2.) Michael Silver, “Microsoft Office metadata: What you don’t see can hurt you,” Tech Republic, 4 March 2003 [].

3.) Small Business Administration (SBA),SBA Office of Advocacy Frequently Asked Questions Document “How important are small businesses,”, October, 2005, 1.

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Ms. Veniegas is an alumni of the University of Washington Marilee joined the Marketing team at Essential Security Software, Inc []. in 2005. She also serves as one of the ESS site editors for I Want My ESS []! a stolen work and Small/Medium Business (SMB) resource site.

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