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I would like to share some sensitive information in a PDF document that I created, but I'm afraid that my identity can be traced back. I installed a trial Microsoft Word on a Windows 7 (guest OS on VirtualBox, without any personal data) and after creating the document, I saved it as a PDF.

Is there any way to trace back my identity? Do I need to worry or do some further steps?

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    Do you just want to send this PDF or also print it out?
    – Cyberduck
    Oct 27, 2018 at 13:01

1 Answer 1

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It may be possible to trace your identity, yes, or at least to detect sensitive information (such as user name, computer host name, or timezone, which may pass through from the host to the virtual guest, depending on settings). Instead, you should use a tool designed for the job, like the live bootable Tails operating system. It is designed to leave no trace on the computer it runs on and will not insert anything sensitive into documents that you do not explicitly want to include. It additionally uses the Tor anonymity network, negating the risk of leaking your IP address when you distribute the document.

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  • Aren't there also tools for stripping metadata from common file fromats?
    – Daisetsu
    Oct 29, 2018 at 23:41
  • @Daisetsu For stripping EXIF data, yes. Some formats are way more complicated than a JPEG file and can contain far more information than you might think (edit history, etc) that wouldn't be removed.
    – forest
    Oct 29, 2018 at 23:42

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