Burned by PowerPoint Leak, Google Turns to Adobe PDF

There’s been an interesting news leak at Google about a possible new online storage service, the rumored "GDrive." While the possibility of such a service from Google is interesting and the implications related to security and bandwidth are significant, what caught my attention was the source of the leak.

Apparently, Google CEO Eric Schmidt allowed his PowerPoint slides, complete with speaker notes, to be posted online at [broken link] http://investor.google.com/ppt/20060302_analyst_day.ppt. A resourceful blogger found the embedded notes and the rest is history. Pesky bloggers!The damage was done, but Google tried to cover their tracks by removing the .ppt file and replacing it with a PDF rendition created with Adobe Distiller 7.0 on Windows. They even enabled the more advanced document security features such as prohibiting content copying and extraction. Smart move, but I’m sure Google wishes they had posted a PDF the first time around.Aside from questioning whether or not PowerPoint is really an effective means of communication, this is a good opportunity to re-evaluate how we all distribute important documents. It’s not like this is the first time this has happened. If Schmidt had posted a PDF from the get-go he would have enjoyed smaller file size, consistent cross-platform/cross-device viewing experience, and he could have skipped the untimely spoiler.Leaks happen, but it’s especially hard to swallow when it’s your own fault, as it was in this case. But there’s still a difference between being careful and true document security. If you really need control over the documents you distribute, check out Adobe’s LiveCycle Policy Server. You can apply a variety of security policies to your Adobe PDF and Microsoft Office documents. For example, you can require LDAP validation before a PDF can be opened or create self-updating documents so your viewers can only see the latest version of the document. Another option is to revoke viewing privileges if a security leak has occured even after the document has been distributed. Lots of folks would benefit from that kind of control, not just Google.Think Mission Impossible. This blog will self-destruct in ten seconds….

One Response to Burned by PowerPoint Leak, Google Turns to Adobe PDF

  1. John Dowdell says:

    Hi Adam, I’m agreed with you on the usefulness of .PPT as a document exchange format…. ;-)But we’ve also had problems with lack of redaction in PDF… for instance:http://www.pdfforlawyers.com/2005/05/pdf_redaction_s.html“How to let people see what the document really is” is a hard problem… there are still a lot of “Welcome to GoLive 4” webpages out there.I’ve been really impressed by the ongoing rights-management of LiveCycle Policy Server too — if you need to be sure who reads or prints a document, on a person-by-person, hour-by-hour basis, then the Policy Server seems essential.It’s a good thing that Schmidt didn’t deliver a PDF with his erased data still within it, though, that’s my big relief…. ;-)jd