May 152008

Corporate mail should be filtered for viruses and spam at the gateway — that’s just a given.  It’s much more efficient to filter incoming email in one spot than to check it at 300 or 25000 desktops.  Web browsers should go through a scanning, filtering proxy.  Again, it’s much simpler to secure and maintain.

So, what if you have a corporate standard document format and don’t want the cascading issues with users receiving and opening/converting/saving non-standard files?  Wouldn’t it make sense to convert the document on the way in?

A rules-based system makes sense.

Consider a address that receives resume submissions for HR.  You do not want HR bugging you about weird documents.  I’d set a rule that any attachment (Microsoft Word .doc, Microsoft Works document .wps, RTF, OpenDocument, etc.,) gets automatically converted to PDF — they’re resumes to be read or printed, and should be read-only.  Email gets scanned, attachments are analyzed and extracted, attachments are converted and reinserted, a note is added that it was automatically converted and the archive document is at such and such for so long if there are problems, and thank you.

Rules wouldn’t be terribly complicated, either.  Off the top of my head:

  • All Postscript (*.ps) convert to PDF.  Simple.
  • Pass all compressed (*.zip, *.gz, *.bz2, etc) unmodified.
  • Convert to Open Office XML all (*.doc, *.wps, *.rtf, WordPerfect, and other text formats).
  • Same goes for Lotus 1-2-3 docs and kin.
  • Image formats convert to PNG.  Example, with rule that the Graphics department is exempt.
  • And so forth….

I haven’t checked the Microsoft Office license, but I’m pretty sure you’d only need one licensed copy for the gateway, so I’ll check.  Image conversion is simple enough, using ImageMagick, NConvert, and others.

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