Employees of law firms, legal departments, financial institutions, healthcare organizations, and the public sector often need to collaborate internally on documents that will be sent to outside parties, such as clients, and other companies. To avoid disseminating confidential data and others' personal information, it's necessary to properly redact PDFs and other file types to ensure that sensitive data does not land in unwanted hands.
Permanent redaction is important - and if performed incorrectly can lead to a leak of confidential information and consequences such as fines, lawsuits, scandals, and loss of customer trust. To avoid the mess that can be created by failed redactions, you need to ensure that your documents are redacted permanently and that the redaction software you are using really works.
Of course, professionals tasked with redaction are doing their best with the tools at their disposal. However, many of the common practices for redaction are leaving organizations vulnerable.
Where redaction goes wrong
Today’s common processes for redacting documents are more difficult than they should be, lacking easy-to-use functionality and efficiency. To compensate, companies use costly or time-consuming workarounds that still fail to permanently redact sensitive data. Here are some of the most common practices for document redaction and how they fall short:
The black sharpie approach
One of the most painstaking redaction methods still used today involves printing out all of the pages, manually blacking out the sensitive data with a marker, and scanning the documents back into the computer.
This approach is very time-consuming and is vulnerable to human error as the person redacting the document must identify sensitive information manually. Also, redacted information isn’t always hidden, as scanners can pick up the "bleed-through" of the black marker on a document, and your sensitive information can be seen in the scanned version.
"Hide and Seek" redaction
Another common mistake is when organizations release (what they think are) redacted documents to the public, covering the sensitive information with a black box or changing font colors to make text unreadable, as you can do in Microsoft Word.
Once they have changed the color of the words to black, they believe the document has been successfully redacted, however, the hidden content can be easily uncovered by copying and pasting that piece of text to reveal it.
In some cases, the text in a document may be properly redacted, but the document's metadata stores previous versions and hidden document elements without users' knowledge. These versions will contain previously edited content and may be disclosed by a savvy PDF user.
If you are relying on any of the above approaches to redacting documents know this:
- You are not alone
- Don’t panic!
- There is a much better way to redact documents securely
Our Approach to Redaction
We believe that document redaction should be easy, user-friendly, and efficient so that all parts of the redaction process are kept secure and redactions are permanent. Our laser focus allows us to reduce human error in the redaction process while helping you increase productivity. No more time-consuming workarounds that still leave sensitive information exposed!
Redactable is a web-based application that helps companies permanently redact their confidential documents. Powered by machine learning, Redactable automates redaction by identifying keywords, phrases, or patterns that are likely to be confidential. Users can set up an automatic search for PII, PHI, and other sensitive data, removing them securely in just a few clicks.
Unlike other tools in the market, Redactable is not an add-on or plugin. Our sole focus is secure document redaction, plain and simple.
“It takes less time to do a thing right than it does to explain why you did it wrong” - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
The idea for Redactable was an answer to the problem that I encountered while working in the financial sector. As part of my role at the time, I was often sent confidential data to review for due diligence. In an attempt to redact documents, the existing process was to draw a white box over the PDF. I found out that people were removing the boxes and trying to take client’s information to get a competitive advantage.
I knew there had to be a more effective way to redact confidential information, so I tried to find a simple automated redaction software on the market where you could upload documents, redact them easily and get them back. But there was nothing that worked well. Faced with the obvious problems of PDF editing tools and have personally tested dozens of PDF redaction tools online and offline, I ditched other redaction solutions in favor of building Redactable!
We have created an easy-to-use, secure, automated redaction solution that redacts documents the right way. Redactable even removes the metadata and any hidden document elements to ensure that the data behind the black boxes can never be uncovered.
Ready for redaction software that really works? Start your free trial now.