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What Is Data Extraction? Definition, Methods, And The Best Way To Safeguard Sensitive Data

what is data extraction

B2B companies rely on several kinds of data to make informed business decisions and improve their efficiency based on metrics from multiple sources. While data extraction is a crucial method for gaining the required data, there are potential risks you may not be considering.

The data you store in various documents is a target for malicious third parties and hackers who want to steal your sensitive information to commit fraud and identity theft. Worse yet, you could breach compliance laws if you store or leak confidential data on individuals.

Answer "What is data extraction?", the importance of data extraction in the ETL process, and how to safeguard private data as you share documents and keep information away from unauthorized viewers with effective redaction processes in our article.

What is Data Extraction?

The term “data extraction” is used freely by analysts and marketers who rely on data for insights and to optimize subsequent campaigns, but what is data extraction?

Data extraction involves collecting or pulling data from various disparate sources. It serves as the first step of the ETL process, and the data acquired from the data extraction process is raw data which is disorganized and usually unstructured. 

Data extraction from databases, web scraping, SaaS platforms, and other sources are consolidated, processed, and refined before storing it in a central location like a data warehouse to be transformed later through ETL pipelines. 

In the realm of B2B marketing, data extraction is used for tasks like finding prospects using lead data from different platforms such as LinkedIn. 

Extracted data for B2B companies can be segmented into five different types:

  • Unstructured data is the raw data that is not standardized or stored in a structured format in your database. Extracting unstructured data involves using data cleansing processes to remove duplicates and deal with missing values.
  • Structured data, in contrast, is data maintained as a standardized format.
  • Operational/Use/Task data is data related to an organization’s routine tasks and processes that can help them improve operational efficiency.
  • Customer data includes names, publicly available contact information, purchase history, etc., to form detailed customer journeys and effective marketing campaigns.
  • Financial data consists of data regarding sales metrics, product costs, and competitor prices to help plan subsequent growth strategies. 

Data Extraction and ETL

To answer "What is data extraction?", we must see it in the context of the ETL process as a whole. ETL stands for Extract, Transform, and Load, where every instance is carried out through different pipelines. An effective ETL process flows from one step to another seamlessly.

Organizations use ETL tools to simplify the process through automation, enabling them to gather data from fragmented sources and store it in a centralized location for better visibility. Data extraction is the collection process for ETL and assimilates the relevant data for transformation.

The ultimate goal for collecting structured and unstructured extracted data is to have a unified data model for you and your teams to work with and acquire business intelligence once it has been transformed and stored in a standardized format in data warehouses.

Why You Need Redaction for Your Extracted Data

Although data extraction is part of a complete data integration process through ETL, it can be carried out individually, albeit with certain limitations:

  • Data extraction can be used to archive raw data, but disorganized and inconsistent data is challenging to analyze.
  • Data containing sensitive information regarding customers and businesses must be protected from unauthorized viewers and malicious third parties through encryption and redaction after you carry out data extraction.
  • Traditional data extraction tools do not provide features to safeguard confidential data, and without proper redaction, you could be exposing yourself to cyber-attacks and data breaches.

After answering “What is data extraction?”, I will explain redaction and the information you should be redacting on available data documentation for sharing with third-party users.

Types of Information You Must Redact

When extracting data, you will come across sensitive information such as names, phone numbers, addresses, company analytics, financial records, medical documentation, etc. 

Here is a list of the primary types of information you need to look out for in your data extraction process:

Personally Identifiable Information (PII): PII refers to any information that can be used to reveal an individual’s identity. Information here includes names, contact numbers, license plate numbers, etc.

Companies storing biometrics and geolocations are legally bound to secure PIIs. Mishandling of personal data could result in hefty fines and damage to reputation.

Confidential Business Information: Intellectual property, trade secrets, and customer metrics could be stored in extracted data documentation. Preventing access to confidential business information can help secure revenue and avoid corporate espionage.

Similar to your company’s intellectual property, your extracted data must comply with regulations and compliance laws so you do not violate legal requirements.

Financial Information: Data in the finance sector contains information for bank account numbers, credit card information, tax identification numbers, etc., and must be redacted to save clients from credit card fraud and money laundering. 

Medical Records: Hospitals, Covered Entities, and medical institutions need to extract data for healthcare providers and insurers. Protected Health Information (PHI) must be redacted to uphold the patient’s confidentiality.

Furthermore, you must adhere to compliance laws like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) if you’re in the healthcare sector.

With various information to look out for and redact, the task could be overwhelming for smaller organizations with limited resources, who might have to comb through unstructured data to redact sensitive information.

Redaction tools provide a solution for redacting large, complex data documents with automated detection and redaction features. 

What are Redaction Tools and What are their Benefits?

Redaction tools are effective solutions for organizations of every size by allowing them to bypass the hassle of manually redacting documents using automation features to make complete redactions.

Here are five ways redaction tools can help save resources while safeguarding confidential data:

  • Manual redactions leave room for errors and incomplete redactions that hackers can exploit. Redaction software consistently makes error-free redactions and protects you from cyber-attacks and litigation. 
  • Robust redaction tools like Redactable permanently redact sensitive data by removing hidden document elements such as metadata to stop hackers from recovering redacted data or identifying redactors.
  • Redaction tools redact large documents in minutes, giving your teams more time to work on pertinent tasks and close more deals. 
  • Data documentation can also be stored in various file formats that need to be redacted. An effective redaction tool supports several formats so you can upload any document and have it automatically redacted hassle-free.
  • Sensitive information can also be stored in the form of images or videos. Redaction tools ensure you do not overlook them and mark them for redaction if it finds sensitive information in any form.

If you’re looking for the best redaction software that provides these benefits and more in a cost-effective solution, then look no further than Redactable.

Redactable: The Ultimate Redaction Software

Redactable is an AI-driven cloud-based redaction tool that enables users to safeguard their privacy and adhere to compliance laws by redacting sensitive information from the extracted raw data. 

Redactable employs AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP) algorithms to detect and redact sensitive information automatically, and our Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology redacts every instance of sensitive data from your data documentation. 

You can choose keywords and phrases to redact using the “Search Text” option or “Patterns” to redact data sharing the same theme. The Redaction Wizard feature automates the redaction process seamlessly without manual input.

You can also choose the “Manual” option to scan the document and redact information yourself, where our intuitive One-Click Redaction feature makes the entire process hassle-free.

Redactable removes text, images, and videos and scrubs the file of hidden document elements, metadata, digital signatures, etc., thereby ensuring hackers cannot undo redactions and recover the censored information or identify the redactors.

With Redactable Workflow, you can set up task hierarchies and collaborative redaction projects on our browser platform, where collaborators can join and redact simultaneously to cut down the time taken to scan and edit complex data files without downloading additional plugins.

We offer third-party integrations to Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, and Box to import and export files of any type effortlessly. Redactable supports several file formats, such as Microsoft PowerPoint, Word, Excel, PDFs, HTML, and standard exchange formats like XML.

Redactable complies with GDPR and HIPAA guidelines while maintaining a transparent Privacy Policy

To show how easy the redaction process is when using Redactable, here is a complete step-by-step guide to using our platform:

1.Open Redactable in your browser.

2.Uphold the document containing raw data you want to be redacted.

3.Select the content you want to be redacted (only if you aren’t using our proprietary Redaction Wizard!)

4.Click “Finalize Redaction.”

5.Download the newly redacted document.


Redactable has a transparent pricing plan and an option to receive a customized plan tailored to your redaction requirements after you contact us. You can try our features risk-free with a free trial to see how we secure your data and help you adhere to compliance laws easily!



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By answering “What is data extraction?” you can understand the importance of gathering data for any business worldwide. Collecting unstructured and structured data is the backbone of any organization that seeks to improve efficiency and create optimal strategies.

Simply extracting data is not enough. Besides its role in a complete data integration process for ETL, extracted data must be scanned and redacted to keep them from falling into the wrong hands. Mishandling data can lead to significant losses in revenue and reputation.

Redactable removes the anxiety of storing unstructured and structured data in your documents by automatically detecting and redacting sensitive information with our Redaction Wizard feature. 

Try our features risk-free with a free trial before subscribing to our premium plans, or contact us to get a customized plan tailored to your redaction needs. 

Stop worrying about data leaks and start saving revenue with Redactable today!

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