GUID is an acronym global unique identifier. It’s a unique ID number that is automatically assigned to any document that a user creates in Microsoft. In other words, every time a new document is created – no matter if it’s a Word file, Excel one or something different entirely. If the document is created on a LAN or Local Area Network, the number also includes the Ethernet address of the workstation on which the document was created. Other files do not have that section of the GUID.
Technipages Explains GUID
Because of the way these unique identifiers are assigned, it’s possible to determine the author of a unique document even if it was created anonymously. Microsoft Office supports author information, so users can put their name or the names of their collaborators on the file if they so choose. The fact that these GUIDs also made it possible to identify supposedly anonymous files was not revealed to its users.
It raised privacy concerns when it did come out further down the line. This issue existed around the time of Office 97, in other words, quite some time ago. A patch was released that ended up disabling the GUID function, in order to maintain the privacy of its users. Outside of the context of Microsoft programs, GUID is used in another context – in Unix and Unix-like operating systems, it refers to a file attribute of executable files. This file-attribute assigns permissions to the person that executes the file in question. Unlike the Microsoft function, in this context, it doesn’t pose a security risk.
Common Uses of GUID
- GUIDs were a serious privacy problem when their existence was released, and before they were patched out of all Microsoft products.
- In Unix environments, GUIDs assign permissions similar to those of the file’s owner to whoever executes them.
- The nature of GUIDs meant that they could track the owner of even anonymous files across networks.
Common Misuses of GUID
- GUIDs are a type of identifier assigned to files by all modern Microsoft products.