Review: Workshare Protect

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Review: Workshare Protect

Distributing information in Microsoft Office documents can reveal more than was intended.

Distributing information in Microsoft Office documents can reveal more than was intended.

Buried beneath the neatly formatted exterior lies a wealth of metadata formed during the creation process. It can include the identities of authors, corrections made, 'deleted' text, and routing details. Workshare Protect is designed to automatically remove extraneous baggage and ensure that proprietary data does not leak out into the public domain.

As well as scanning user-selected documents and removing unnecessary metadata, Protect also checks attachments on outgoing email. It even offers the choice to change documents into Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format to totally eliminate any extraneous data.

The configuration menu has an enormous choice of which types of data should be sought and eliminated from Word, Excel and other Office applications. Around 75 options are divided into sections governing internal documents, documents sent outside the company, email, and general features such as data fields.

The distribution of documents can also be controlled – who can send them, read them or change them. The control that can be given to the user is comprehensive and ideal for companies in the legal and financial sector or anyone handling sensitive data.

When a document is scanned, a report splits whatever information has been found into high, medium and low risk. Scanning takes time, which is why Protect should be controlled centrally, as this extra time might tempt some workers to switch it off.

Installation is simple and highly automated both on standalone machines or over a network using Workshare Protect Silent Install, WinInstall or third-party products. It discovers and configures itself for whatever email system is being used and can even accept multiple email systems when, for example, Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes and Novell GroupWise are in use at the same time.

Probably the greatest benefit of Protect is the ability to automatically turn off the Track Changes feature in Office and wipe clean any traces. If using a previously completed form as a template for a new document, the user can rest assured that the old data will not be available to the new recipient.

For:

Easy to install, allows fine-grained control, imposes a common, company-wide policy, and is easy to learn and use.


Against:

Adds extra processing time to scan a document. Does not prevent restricted documents being sent by Web mail or other unsupported applications.


Verdict:

Excellent choice to prevent inadvertent security breaches.

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