Blacking out confidential information on important documents is popularly seen often in tv shows and dramas if not in real life, one prime example is the 400 page redacted report by Robert Mueller on the controversies of ex-President Trump’s election.
How to blackout sensitive data In a PDF document?
However, blacking out documents does not simply mean putting a black bar over confidential information or diligently marking out a physical form with a Sharpie and angling it to every office light to confirm the effectiveness of your efforts. Although, in days past you would not have been far off.
Today, "Blacking out" pdf documents is known as the process of redacting Personally Identifiable Information (P.I.I.) from documents usually via an online redaction tool or software.
Beware, however, data masking on the contrary, is the electronic version of using a sharpie on your pdf text; it is ineffective as these masks can be easily lifted by even a novice data-thief.
Data Redaction is what is practiced. It provides the permeance and technical assurance of clearing any trailing metadata data as well as satisfying the imperial connotation we are familiar with by "black-baring" the information present in the visible pdf text as well.
Why redacting data from your PDF file has become essential?
Why Redact a PDF: In an increasingly digital-world, data-fluidity seeps past official offices and legal documents- data redaction has become necessary in everything from tax forms to hospital bills. Why? Third-party brokers aiming to take advantage of any trace of leaked data to make a monetary profit- from telemarketers to data hackers, your P.I.I. Is a gold mine for prying eyes.
Unsettling isn't it? That is why it's good practice and growing essential that we employ data-protection barricades and habits.
What is P.I.I.?
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)’s Guide to Protecting the Confidentiality of Personally Identifiable Information defines P.I.I. as information such as Names, Social Security Numbers and Biometrics.
Data Redaction is one of these practices and, truthfully, the most potent of data security measures as it prevents the scope of data leaks at the source.
What is Data Redaction Exactly?
Though safeguarding sensitive text might connote a sense of data being protected and guarded with a lock for protection. Data-redaction actually inverses the process by making you the thief! Well not really.
The job of a data redactor - in the form of a redaction tool or software- is not to protect sensitive content, it is to remove it completely!
Contrary to what it may seem, confidential data in a pdf file is not just what you see as visible text but also source data such as meta data and hidden element tags which are grouped under the surface which is why data masks are ineffective techniques.
Data redaction software programs and tools effectively redact pdf text along with this trail of data present in the pdf file, essentially leaving nothing for data-thieves to steal!
When to Redact PDF Files
Protecting data as soon as it is received using a pdf editor is a potent initiative to safeguard it’s use further and hide sensitive information from being misused.
Upon Completing Task
A wise post-step to ensure data is protected after to Redact PDF files once you have used the PDF document.
Before the Distribution of the Data
Ensuring data-hygiene before distribution of sensitive information and pdf files is a professional and ethical mark of an organization.
Before Data Archiving
Data Archiving is practiced by organizations to keep a track record of past document processings. PDF file sanitisation becomes pivotal before being stored in a library of past interactions.
Before Data Disposal
A PDF file must be sanitized- deleted and cleared of any sensitive information before disposal. Essentially creating this step as the electronic paper shredding of your pdf text and documents.
Sectors that use data redaction
With the NSA itself publishing guidelines for citizens on how to properly redact their data, the importance of safeguarding sensitive information in today’s world has been highlighted along with a recognition for educating people on how to redact a pdf file safely in today’s glowingly digital world.
An ever present facet in law firms and legal offices, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5-2 requiring court filings to redact Social Security Numbers, Names of Minors, Financial Account Numbers, Dates of Birth and Home Addresses underscores and offsets the standard of data redaction and pdf file redaction being a must.
Financial institutions directly deal with customer bank account information among other sensitive P.I.I. data. Jeopardizing data hygiene in a sector like finance can create devastating ripple effects as was made apparent in the 2017 data-breach of loan firm giants Wonga leaking the data of 245,000 UK customers.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1966 (HIPPA) is the federal law that protects patient information and privacy, upheld by an abundant use of data security protocols including data redaction by health care providers and Organisations.
So what are some popular free PDF "blackout" tools used to redact PDF files?
Desperately looking for a quick-fix, users often rush their keyboards- free online pdf Redactor…how to redact PDF online for free?...how to redact info for free…
As tempting as it may be, free online redactors often limit you in both capability and sense of security- the latter being an uncompromisable factor when it comes to the question of your most sensitive data.
Though completely free, AvePDF offers a rough user-experience for pdf redaction making it a frustrating option to redact your pdf files. The interface can be non-operable on devices such as the iPad. Parsed with unsubstantiated security compliance statements, it is an inconvenient, though at first seemingly viable, free online pdf redaction tool .
Straightforward in it’s interface, PDFOnline might seem like an optimum pdf editor however, limiting user access to just 5 actions a day deters it from being able to be used daily and abundantly.
However, the tool does provide a number of supplemental resources that allow the user to not only redact pdf text but also convert pdf files, combine and edit them too. It supports formats such as PowerPoint, Word, Excel, Rich Text, and Plain Text.
A popular choice to redact pdf files, FreePDFRedactor offers the most assurance out of the Softwares thus far in terms of security and peace of mind. With SSL Encryption that deletes your redacted pdf file from their server every 30 mins, you are assured no permanent traces of your sensitive information is left on their system.
The assurance of security, however, is undercut by user limitations: Only 5 mb of pdf text or 20 page pdf files can be redacted in their free trial.
Adobe Acrobat - Free*
The reason for the asterisk is the redact tool is only available in Adobe’s purchased Pro package or higher.
Once purchased the user is provided with a run-of-the-mill redaction tool that still requires a manual search and select or pattern selection to redact pdf files. The lack of a one-step process to easily redact all items in multiple page documents becomes a headache in professional offices that need to redact mass influxes of pdf documents and sensitive information.
Due to the limitations and incompetencies of free redaction software, a paid service that dedicates their focus to resolve all annoyances with the redaction process with ease and capability is a growing demand.
Redactable is a web-based redaction software created by former loan consultant Amanda Levay. Having been in the back-end trenches of experiencing the inadequacies and annoyances with data redaction, the need for a modern software to seamlessly redact sensitive content and provide a document completely removed of sensitive data and worries.
Complete eradication of your sensitive data as-well-as meta-data present in your entire document.
Complete auto-redaction in one-go
Redact every item of P.I.I. And confidential information from multi-page PDF documents in one go! Redactable users average only two and a half minutes to Redact a ten-page document.
StoneyLonesome Group, CFV Ventures, Tampa Bay Wave; Large-scale law-firms have employed Redactable to handle their mass influx of pdf redaction needs.
Redactable is a seamless software that caters ease and effectiveness with a clean, approachable interface and a powerful a.i. that clears and handles all your pdf redaction needs in minutes providing a capable A.I. that not only extracts and deletes selected sensitive content but does so in record-breaking time.
Automatically deleted and redacted documents facilitated with a sense of trust and an active and prominent customer-base, Redactable successfully solves all redaction annoyances and provides a premium service to every existing and new customer.