4 Responses to Metadata in Electronic Records Management

  1. leah wolfe says:

    This can be used to determine data authenticity as well, yes? A fake image’s metadata would be significantly less? How do you prevent the creation of fake metadata?

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    • Arian Ravanbakhsh says:

      Leah, Thank you for your question. I’ve checked with some of our experts here. This was the response;

      Dear Ms. Wolfe,

      I am writing in response to your excellent question, “This can be used to determine data authenticity as well, yes? A fake image’s metadata would be significantly less? How do you prevent the creation of fake metadata?”.

      ​Institutions responsible for preserving electronic records ​employ different methods to insure that it is possible to determine the authenticity of copies of files. With digital images it is possible to make use of watermarks, while with text files digital signatures are often used. This page (https://www.gpo.gov/authentication/) on the Government Printing Office’s website explains how they use digital signatures as a part of their authenticity strategy.

      Another approach that can be used with all file and record types is to make use of a checksum utility to generate a fixity value for a file. If you aren’t familiar with fixity, it is a bit like a very fine measurement of a file. If you change a single character or even insert a blank space in a text document it will alter the fixity value. The Digital Preservation Coalition describes the use of checksums to determine fixity on their site (http://handbook.dpconline.org/technical-solutions-and-tools/fixity-and-checksums). Institutions often generate fixity values for the copies of records that they make available and record them as metadata. If someone alters a file in anyway, including its metadata, it’s fixity value will change as well making it possible to recognize that something is wrong with the altered copy.

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