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Adobe Redaction tool: Is it worth the shot?

Adobe Redaction tool

The introduction of the Adobe redaction tool in 2017 solved the problem of scanning printed documents to black out sensitive information before sharing.

Though initially, the tool could only support manual redaction, it has advanced to support multiple-page redaction through its Search and Redact features. You can also achieve auto-redaction with the AutoRedact plug-in.

Does Adobe have a Free Redaction tool?

Adobe’s redaction tool is available in Adobe Acrobat DC Pro. However, you can Download and Install Adobe Acrobat DC Pro trial version and enjoy all the pro features at no cost.

Adobe Acrobat Redaction Tool

The Adobe Acrobat Redaction tool is a powerful redaction that enables you to perform the following actions:

  • Search content to redact.

The search feature allows you to search a single word or phrase, multiple words or phrases, and search patterns. Search patterns can be name patterns that consist of phone numbers, credit cards, and email addresses.

  • Mark items to remove

Adobe redaction tool also allows you to change the appearance of redaction marks by setting custom properties.

  • Apply Multiple code entries

Adobe redaction tool provides a list of code sets for you to choose from for a single redaction.

  • Apply Watermarks Across Multiple Pages

Suppose a watermark, header, or footer appears on a specific exact location on multiple pages. In that case, the Repeat Mark Across Pages feature allows the redaction of that mark across those pages in a single redaction.

  • Sanitize and remove hidden content.

Adobe Acrobat allows you to locate meta and hidden data, such as a document's author, bookmarks, and cropped images, and removes them from your document. 

  • Save redacted document

Adobe acrobat allows you to save the redacted document. The save feature overwrites the original document. To avoid overwriting the original document, you'll be required to save the document with a different name and in a different location.

How can you Redact with Adobe?

Once you have the Adobe Acrobat DC Pro version downloaded and installed, open the software on your PC and you will see all the actions you can take for your document. 

  • To redact, open the document from the file menu.
  • Choose Redact in the Tools menu
  • On the Edit menu, click Redact Text & Images.
  • Choose the text or image to select, right-click, then select Redact.
  • Select the text or image in a PDF, then choose Redact in the floating context menu.
  • Save the redacted document

What are the Limitations of Adobe Redaction Tool?

The following limitations are associated with the Adobe Acrobat redaction tool:

  • Manual redaction process: The whole redaction process is manual, making redaction with the Adobe Redaction tool tedious.
  • High level of literacy required: The Adobe Acrobat redaction tool requires a high level of technical expertise to navigate its numerous features.
  • Confusing interface: Important features such as the application of multiple code sets and the "Repeat Mark Across Pages" setting are hidden within menus. While such features are meant to ease the redaction time, finding them can be time-consuming. 
  • Data privacy threat: Removing hidden data and metadata is optional, posing a security threat if you forget to "sanitize hidden data."
  • Human errors: Failure to save the original copy with a different name and in a separate folder overwrites your original document with your redacted copy, hence losing your original document content.

Who should use Adobe Redaction Tool?

Redaction is the complete and permanent deletion of sensitive data to protect the data from unauthorized access.

Organizations and departments affiliated with sensitive data can use Adobe redaction to remove sensitive information from documents before sharing. Such organizations and departments include:

  • Healthcare providers.

There will never be a time you will be comfortable sharing your health records with a stranger, not even with your relatives. Why is this the case for people? It's because you can't imagine what would become of you if such information was made available to the public. It could expose you to public ridicule and embarrassment and cause untold emotional damage. Therefore, it is imperative that healthcare providers secure your medical information.

You would want to understand the plan of anyone trying to inquire about your health, leaving alone your health records, which tells you why healthcare providers must have a way of securing your information.

  • HR departments

Do you remember the documents you submitted before securing that job? How about the forms you had to fill out regarding your medical history? Before submitting, you must have read a privacy policy on how your data will remain confidential.

Redaction should be in tandem with access level privileges provided to internal company staff if those documents have to be shared internally. For instance, the information needed by the legal department is not the same as the finance department and should only be available on a need-to-know basis. 

  • Financial services

Your financial information, such as loan history, should be redacted before sharing it with third parties for security.

  • Court systems

Records such as marriage certificates and related information stored by the court systems should be redacted before sharing.

  • Law firms 

Documents such as affidavits and briefs should be redacted.

  • Government agencies

Partnerships, vendor engagements, and customer training are some instances where sensitive data can be shared mistakenly. 

It is prudent to ensure that sensitive organizational data is redacted before sharing those customer presentations and related activities.

How Does Redaction Help in Data Security?

Given the technological advancements and emerging trends in cyber security, data security remains a top priority for professional organizations and individuals at all levels.

It's impractical to discuss redaction tools without mentioning data security. Why is this? Because the primary objective of data redaction is to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information. It's also difficult for individuals to fully ascertain that their tools aren't storing their personal data.

It can be a frustrating experience when choosing an efficient and credible redaction tool for your needs that guarantees that it will keep your data safe and inaccessible to unauthorized users. 

Adobe redaction tool is undoubtedly one of the best redaction tools available today. However, through in-depth competitor research, we shall determine if the Adobe redaction tool can retain its top spot. 

Factors Determining the Selection of a Redaction Tool

The features of a redaction tool, price, ease of use, customer service support, automatic vs. manual capabilities, multiple file types, and cloud vs. local storage capabilities are primary considerations when choosing a redaction tool.

  • Features and Capabilities of a Redaction tool

Every software program is designed to solve a particular problem. While you can have a hundred features in a system solving one problem in a series of steps, you can also have a single feature that does all this work in one step. 

For example: Consider a legal officer who wants to share a document with the management in ten minutes, and the document has to be redacted. The legal officer will choose PDF redaction software as the most appropriate redaction tool to use.

Similarly, a law enforcement officer seeking to redact faces in a video taken from an accident scene will go for video redaction software with an auto-redaction feature. 

In other words, the legal officer and the law enforcement officer in the example given are looking for features that will solve their problem in the shortest time possible and so does the average user of every redaction tool.

  • Pricing plan/cost

Undoubtedly, the cost of redaction software has to match the value delivered. The first thought that crosses your mind when considering the price of any product will be, “Is the value offered worth the price?”

The value provided by auto-redaction software is not comparable to that provided by manual-redaction software. Developers of the auto-redaction software invested tons of resources that must be accounted for in its pricing.

For example, a government organization seeking to secure a redaction tool at the beginning of a financial year will most likely consider a redaction tool with the capability of redacting a wide variety of document formats and with great speed due to the volume expected. 

The governmental organization will most likely choose a redaction tool with an auto-redaction feature, regardless of its price.

  • Ease of use

The expertise required to navigate software determines how often a user will prefer it. Simplicity and an ease-of-use interface are pivotal in how users respond to it.

Software may be easy to use but have a confusing interface. A confusing interface would mean that users will spend a lot of time trying to understand the system.

Most professionals have deadlines to meet. So, easy-to-navigate redaction software would be the ideal choice. 

  • Multiple File Redaction Capability

In adherence to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), many law enforcement agencies would want to have information in multiple formats such as PDF, video, images, and audio.

Software that offers multiple file redaction services would be the most preferred by law enforcement agencies.  For instance, a police department may be requested to redact volumes of information in multiple formats.

As a member of the redaction team, I would consider the redaction of the information from a single software over having to look for different software to meet the request.

  • Automatic versus Manual features

The advent of Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning has contributed immensely to the growth of cyber security and advancements in redaction services. Auto-redaction is a notable advancement in redaction software.

Auto-redaction is the complete, instant removal of sensitive data in a click. It is based on pattern-matching algorithms to relate Personally Identifiable Information (PII) such as name, address, PINs, and bank details and remove them permanently.

Manually redacting sensitive information in images and videos is time-consuming, costing an organization productive hours contrary to auto-redaction which instantly and permanently removes the sensitive information.

  • Customer service

Some software redaction service providers offer free support and training to their customers for a limited time, after which the customer pays. Others provide unlimited training, and some offer training and support as a separate package.

Customers will appreciate dedicated customer support and choose it over software with support and training as a separate package.

  • Cloud versus local storage

Cloud-based solutions are preferred for their unlimited storage options and space. However, they may be associated with data security threats.

Locally hosted solutions may be deemed safer but are limited to the host’s hardware capabilities, such as storage.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has significantly emphasized storage. Transferring data, for instance, from an EU region to a non-EU region may raise compliance issues.

A redaction software that offers both cloud and local options may be highly preferred in the case of GDPR compliance.

Adobe vs. Redactable

Recent innovations in the redaction field have seen new players join the industry, with various solutions that attempt to resolve the limitations identified in the Adobe Redaction Tool.

Redactable, the new kid on the block, is giving Adobe Redaction Tool serious competition in the redaction niche. 

Why Redactable?

Redactable is a cloud-based redaction software that automatically identifies and permanently removes sensitive data. The following are the prominent features of Redactable:

  • Auto-redaction: Redactable employs NLP/ML technology to identify and remove sensitive data permanently and instantly.
  • Permeance: Redactable can permanently identify and redact all sensitive data, including metadata and hidden data.
  • Security: Redactable provides legally approved redaction certificates with time stamps for tracking redaction activities. As detailed in Redactable's Privacy Policy, your confidential information's privacy is a top priority.
  • Collaboration: Redactable allows team members to work together on a single project, increasing productivity.
  • Ease of use: Redactable's interface is easy to navigate. In addition, redactable walks you through the redaction process with guided steps. 
  • Limitless: Redactable offers unlimited redactions for unlimited documents.

How do you Redact with Redactable?

In four easy steps! 

  • Upload your document 
  • Let the wizard find your sensitive information
  • Redact your document
  • Download your redacted document.

Wasn’t that easy?

Besides Redactable’s unique features, security, trust, and freedom continue to hold a special space in the heart of every user:

  • Security: The privacy of your data remains a top priority with redactable. While auto-redaction ensures that not a trace of sensitive data remains in your document, making it difficult for hackers to get through.
  • Flexibility: You have a chance to collaborate with your team and enjoy unlimited redactions for unlimited documents.
  • Trust: Redactable is trusted by thousands of people across the globe, including Hustle Fund and Chisos.

Start your Free Trial now and enjoy every step of your redaction process!

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