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Classification toolbar in LibreOffice

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

In the past few posts in this blog I wrote about various digital signing-related improvements that will land in LibreOffice 5.2. In this post I would like to cover an other aspect of helping secure document handling: classification. First, thanks to the Dutch Ministry of Defense who made this work possible (as part of a project implementing trusted signing and communication in LibreOffice) in cooperation with Nou&Off. The basic idea is that in case the user is required to follow a policy when editing a document, then LO can help the user respect these rules in case LO is informed about the rules.

Luckily TSCP produced a number of open standards around this, which LO can implement without going after a specific vendor. For the scope of this post, two of them are interesting:

So how does this look like? View → Toolbars → Classification can enable a toolbar that’s disabled by default:

It has a list box that contains the categories described by the BAF policy. LO comes with such an example policy by default, that’s why you can see categories there already. If you want to use your own policy, you can do so: Tools → Options → LibreOffice → Paths has a Classification row to configure a custom policy:

And if you select the Internal Only category, you’ll see most of the features described by a category: it can add an info-bar (UI only), header/footer fields and a watermark (stored in the document) as well:

I would like to point out that the watermark is a proper scalable customshape, not a poor bitmap. :-) Perhaps this part could be extracted to a separate Add Watermark feature later, as I think it’s quite useful on its own as well.

Finally, one feature is that LO knows how secure the document is once it has a classification category, which means a classification scale and level. For two documents that have the same scale, LO can detect if the user would accidentally try to leak sensitive content from a document with higher classification level to a document that has a lower one. This is implemented when copy&pasting:

Most of these features work in all Writer, Calc and Impress. The header/footer fields and the watermark are Writer-only, and also Calc/Impress does classification checks only in its internal copy&paste code (e.g. not when doing paste special and choosing RTF).

Putting all of these together, LO can now help users required to follow classification rules in a number of different ways, as long as the rules they have to follow are available as a BAF XML policy. As usual, you can try this right now with a 5.2 daily build. :-)

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