PDF security looks great to Denmark's Prime Minister
Switches speech distribution from Word to PDF after incident

13 January 2004

By Kurt Foss, Planet PDF Editor

In his New Year's speech to the nation, Denmark's Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen reportedly told citizens that it is his "ambition that Denmark will be the world's most advanced hi-tech nation within the next decade."

Oddly enough, the government's current technology came back to bite him not long thereafter, according to published reports. A recent post titled "Danish PM's private communications disclosed by MS Word" in the The Risks Digest (Volume 23: Issue 12), a forum on risks to the public in computers and related systems, revealed that he has switched to distributing his speeches in PDF following an unintentional disclosure regarding the origin of a Microsoft Word document containing his January 1 speech. According to The Risks Digest post:

"The Danish Prime Minister's Office has tightened IT Security with immediate effect following the disclosure of the origins of the document containing the New Year's speech of prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen. The speech had been written in a document originally authored by Christopher Arzrouni, head of the Trade and Industry Law section of the Association of Danish Industries.

Till now, the ministry has distributed Anders Fogh Rasmussen's speeches to the press and others in word files but in two independent cases, just a few clicks on the computer did reveal the document's origin or which changes had been made."

It goes on to quote the prime minister's press chief on a new strategy now in effect: "We will in the future distribute speeches as PDF files so that such things will not happen."

The same digest coincidentally includes another news item ("'Unfixable' Word password hole exposed") on the same general Word security theme titled, which summarizes a recent BugTraq item:

"The password used to 'protect' a Microsoft Word form can be revealed with a simple text editor, according to a recent BugTraq article. The RISK in this case goes beyond the ability to edit a protected document (you can bypass this anyway with Edit > Select All > Copy, open a new document and Paste). The real RISK is that the user's password is so easy to discover."

The more detailed BugTraq news item titled "Microsoft Word Protection Bypass" also links to a recent Microsoft Knowledgebase article on the topic.


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