Orbious Will Make Forwarding Confidential Documents Dangerous

One of the things that makes me very happy: receiving a confidential document in my email from a trusted source. It could be a merger agreement. Or an internal executive-only email memo. Or a powerpoint pitch for a new product. Whatever it is, if the people who created it don’t want the world to see it, there’s a good chance it will make a great post.

For years lawyers and accountants have said that they specially mark each document sent to individuals, making it unique and trackable. If a document gets forwarded outside of the group, a quick analysis of the unique marking can tell you which individual forwarded it. In theory its a great system, but it is a manual process, and extremely time consuming to coordinate and keep track of all the changes. Because of the difficulty in making and tracking unique documents, most of the time that someone said documents were unique they actually weren’t; people relied on the fear factor and hoped the docs would be kept confidential.

Bad news (for me): creating and tracking these documents now just got a whole lot easier, and forwarding them more dangerous. New startup Orbious will make the entire process as easy as hitting a couple of keys via a downloaded client for word processing and email applications. It uses a thesaurus to create unique versions of the document fore every recipient, and then keeps track of who got what. Here’s an example:

Consider the following sentence taken from a confidential circular that was distributed to staff during a very public and aggressive company takeover (a hypothetical but plausible situation):

Salaries will be paid as usual on the 15 of September.

Using DocTracker, the following alternative sentences would be generated to form part of the “signature” for distribution of this circular:

Salaries will remain paid as usual on the 15 of September.
Salaries will be paid like usual on the 15 of September.
Salaries will be paid as expected on the 15 of September.
Salaries will be paid as normal on the 15 of September.

With only the above information, mappings could be formed for up to 5 recipients and the circular is then able to be tracked indefinitely. The mapping process remains confidential (i.e. the recipient need not know that his/her document was modified).

Orbious is in private beta, sign up on the home page to get access.