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What is Redaction? A complete Overview and your one-stop Solution

what-is-redaction

Traditionally, Redaction has been editing a document to make it ready for publication. However, what we generally refer to today is electronic data redaction. The concept and motive of sensitive data protection are the same, but the methods, chiefly guided by a.i., have changed.

How has it changed? Document redaction has become electronic, from searching and selecting what can be called the first generation of data redactors to those currently being substantiated with the progress and development in the Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) fields. The new wave of software has dramatically reduced time and effort in data redaction. 

The progress in AI.technology has now allowed Redaction tools and software to automatically identify patterns of redactable information based on the back-end research of redundant and familiar sensitive information structuring. 

Redaction software can often highlight Social Security Numbers, Names, Phone Numbers and Credit Card Numbers– known as Personally Identifiable Information (PII) – once a document is uploaded. Users can then, in turn, easily opt to redact all sensitive data of a particular criterion and even string and select different items that need to be particularly cleansed.

The strides in technology in the language processing and sentiment analysis space have eased the previously tedious and outdated process of manual search and selection or the physical act of blacking out documents for assurance and peace of mind- don't worry, we've all been there.  

How to Redact? 

So how do you redact your sensitive data? Today Redaction is done through online redaction software or an installed plugin or extension. Adobe Acrobat's Redact tool is the primary example most of us have come to know. However, the outdated nature of its Search-and-Select and Pattern search criteria has left a vacuum of demand for a more capable, updated tool today's technology to perform a clean sweep of all your redactions in one go. Convenient, right? 

A software company, founded in 2008 by Amanda Levay –a former loan consultant with years of experience in sensitive data handling and processing– operates its offices from the heart of New York and has successfully launched the next-generation automated redaction software through the collaboration of years of research in both Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Optical Character Recognition (OCR.) 

Met with the back-end knowledge of both a team of software developers and the first-hand experience of Amanda Levay herself- the headaches and inefficiencies of previous professional data redaction tools- established the cornerstone of inspiration for a new, intelligent, professional-grade redaction tool that works for everyone.

Frustrations churned to determination, and points of weakness were targeted as sites of improvement to produce software that clean-swept all sensitive data not only with accuracy but with efficiency – Redactable takes only minutes to remove ALL sensitive data from multi-page documents. The success of what it can do has caused it to be picked up by big name firms such as CFV Ventures, StoneyLonesome Group and Tampa Bay Wave.

Excited as I am to share what this new software offers, let's first venture back and explore the foundations of why data-redaction software has become a necessity. Moreover, why are terms like data security and data redaction now part of our daily vernacular? Let's explore the growing facets of data security and why it has become a significant presence in our lives.

Data Security

Now, you might think data security is the back-end responsibility of your trusted redaction software. Well... you're right! But only partly:

Tried and trusted software is one of the upholding pillars for security and overall trust to progress confidently in a growing digital society. However, the other tent-poles of data-security require strict user habits and organization protocols.

Our data-handling measures - both as a user and a professional- prove to be equally, if not more, significant to ensure the safeguarding of data. A lack of awareness and adherence to these guidelines, unfortunately, leads to data being compromised, producing consequences for individuals as for the businesses or organization responsible - tarnishing reputation and blockading further function with compromised data.

“In 2013, Citigroup acknowledged that it failed to safeguard sensitive data, including Social Security numbers and birth dates, for 146,000 customers who filed for bankruptcy between 2007 and 2011 because of a problem with how its software redacted customer data on bankruptcy filings for secured loans.” 

-Will Kenton

Lack of Adherence to Data-Handling Protocols

Data-malpractice has become so prominent that The United States District Court of Alabama even released a guide for citizens to practice data redaction and not be victimized by data hacking.

The problem is two-fold: a lack of awareness on the part of the user regarding the growing repercussions of unguarded data in our world; and a shade of laziness or underestimation from those in the know.

"Prevention is better than cure" is perhaps the best attitude to adhere to for the coming times of data vulnerability. Rest assured, the importance of data security will only rise in an increasingly digital and connected world.

So what can you do? Well, like most things in life, punctuality and timing are critical, especially when it comes to data-security: 

When To Redact?

There are 5 points of time when a user or organization should be proactive and safeguard their data to ensure it is not leaked due to a lack of protocol: 

1. Upon Receiving Data

Many organizations redact data as soon as it is received, preventing potential data leaks and decreasing damage from potential data breaches. 

2. Upon Task Completion

Redaction immediately after the data has been appropriately used is essential to protect client data that might be further distributed. Such practices are fast becoming mandatory for organizations as the threats of data theft have become more complex and prevalent.

3. Before the Distribution of the Data

Redaction before distribution is essential to protect customers' data and prevent misuse. Any organization handling sensitive and confidential data must ensure proper protection before further distribution. 

4. Before Data Archiving

Redaction before Data Archiving is yet another professional practice that must be employed to fortify personal data before storing it in an organization's archive records. 

5. Before Data Disposal

Removal of all sensitive and confidential data before disposal is essential to uphold proper professional hygiene and prevent any possibility of data theft in the entire process of handling client information. 

Redacting data on time ensures the minimum risk of it being leaked and validates your efforts to keep it safe. Ideally, organizations and individuals should adhere to these measures; however, failure to do so has showcased many examples the world over.

What sectors use Redaction?

Every professional sector that handles client data uses Redaction along with several data-security measures. Below are the most prominent examples of how data redaction is employed:

Government

The US National Security Agency (NSA) published a guidance document for proper data redaction, highlighting the importance of citizens protecting their information: 

Source

This inclination further showcases itself in individual states, like New Jersey, providing further guidelines and protocols for citizens to stay safe: 

(Source)

"Under OPRA, a government record that is otherwise publicly accessible may contain non-disclosable information that should be redacted. Redaction means editing a record to prevent public viewing of material that should not be disclosed. Words, sentences, paragraphs, or whole pages may be subject to redaction"

-State of New Jersey, GOVERNMENT RECORDS COUNCIL, New Jersey Open Public Records Act (OPRA)

The widespread nature of government databases is the hearthstone of data-security protocols. The category of Citizen-data spreads the wings of Client-data and often encompasses further pockets of data categories. To protect and safeguard this data is pivotal not only for the functioning of a government but the safeguarding of citizens from attacks not only domestic but also international.

Legal

Data-security is an important protocol in the legal sector due to the potential implications and reverberating consequences it could have for all parties involved. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5-2 requires court filings to redact Social Security numbers, financial account numbers, names of minors, dates of birth, and home addresses.

"If it is necessary to file a document that already contains personal identifying information, the personal identifying information should be "blacked out" or redacted before the document is submitted to the Clerk's Office for filing." 

-United States District Court, Northern District of California

      (Source)

Redaction is a daily and ever-present facet of the highest order in the legal sector. Lawyers and law teams must undergo the process to ensure data hygiene and the integrity of court cases and prevent data leakage in a sector where the consequences could have devastating implications for involved parties. 

Legislation and legality often inter-mingle and cross paths in the everyday functioning of governments and act as a pivotal facet to maintain inter-branch checks and balances - a key pillar for democracy and healthy power distribution.

A shining example came through the Mueller Reports which took 22 months to produce a 400-page redacted report of the investigations conducted by the United States Department of Justice evaluating Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election of Donald Trump.

Finance

"Bankers and capital markets professionals face multiple challenges. While ensuring transparency of operations, they must adhere to data privacy laws, protect sensitive information and be mindful of the ever-changing regulatory landscape — all while running transactions, satisfying deal stakeholder requirements and working on behalf of clients."

Financial data-redaction is pivotal as it directly deals with the economic arena. Leaking of bank details not only jeopardized client accounts but also can offshoot into the hands of third-party organizations. The ripple-effect nature of being at the heart of compromising sensitive client data is the reason why redacting documents is a crucial step in data-security protocols at financial institutions and can have reverberating consequences as was made apparent in the 2017 data-breach of payday loan firm giants Wonga, resulting in the compromised data of 245,000 UK customers! 

Redaction is a vital component of data security that is championed at the highest level of data handling. The clean-cut nature of data redaction is the most effective instrument practiced at the highest official and professional level, ensuring complete data protection.

Hospitality

"The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a federal law that required the creation of national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient's consent or knowledge."  

-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

(CDC)

Healthcare has been an ever-present yet rapidly growing harbor of sensitive patient data. The interference of third-party brokers and parties looking to take advantage of patient data to usher their agenda and business is the motivating undercurrent that has called for establishing data-protection acts and measures such as HIPAA.

(Source)

“To comply with the HIPAA Security Rule, all covered entities must:

  • Ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of all e-PHI
  • Detect and safeguard against anticipated threats to the security of the information
  • Protect against anticipated impermissible uses or disclosures that are not allowed by the rule
  • Certify compliance by their workforce” 

Though it might not have crossed your mind, the healthcare industry uses data redaction abundantly - be sure to redact your data or have a trusted healthcare provider that adheres to protocols and keeps your information protected before you get that telemarketer call for a rash cream for your specific needs…

The Importance of Data Security for Business Credibility

Data redaction is now a benchmark of professionalism and a key component for any organization seeking to operate reputedly in today's world of growing data thefts and leaks. The process has trickled down from the data-sensitive sectors of law firms and government offices to small businesses and individuals.

Safe data handling practices are the litmus tests to determine trust in a professional organization. However, as vital as it is to practice good hygiene on a professional level, the abundance of data fluidity in an increasingly digital world has made it pivotal for individuals to adopt these practices as well. Data-Redaction is now the differentiator between a professional organization and a careless and potentially harmful business or company.

3 Simple Take-Aways

Though the facets and requirements of data redaction vary sector-to-sector, below are the general advantages to take away regardless of your industry. 

Data Security: safeguarding sensitive data is paramount as the world becomes increasingly digital and data theft is becoming increasingly abundant. Data security becomes both a personal requirement and a critical point of trust between clients and organizations. 

Functionality: As most businesses and institutions become increasingly digital, data redaction has become a necessary daily process. It has become essential for these organizations to carry out precise and efficient redaction to tackle mass paperwork and data. The need for an efficient redaction tool that can save both time and Human Resources is pivotal. 

Regulatory Compliance: Data breaches have ushered in a need for regulatory agencies to increase their stronghold to protect user data. Data redaction is heading towards becoming a norm to ensure user protection and is likely to become part of the regulatory protocol for organizations. 

What tool should You Use?

With an unpredictable tide of data spread and fluidity, it becomes vital to have professional-grade software that protects your data entirely, regardless of whether you are a working professional or an everyday user trying to fill out your tax returns.

While online data redactors might be tempting- because they are often free- their credibility often crumbles apart when looked at closer. For example, tools such as AvePDF and PDF.Online lack a straightforward Privacy Policy; gambling on your data is unacceptable concerning PII. Other tools, such as FreePDFredactor, only allow a 5 MB document limit, making it inefficient and impractical to use daily. 

And though Adobe Acrobat provides a Data Redaction tool in their paid Standard X package, it is lack-luster considering they should be on the brink of sentiment analysis technology, yet a run-of-the-mill redaction tool that provides a general search-and-select and category redaction is nothing special and leaves professionals spending hours on multi-page documents.

“As a former loan consultant, I would get tons of confidential documents sent to me for due diligence packages. I constantly managed documents such as client tax returns, social security numbers, account information, appraisals, and inspection reports. I soon found out that drawing boxes over sensitive data didn’t work. Convinced there was a better way to redact documents, I started Redactable."

-Amanda Levay (Founder & C.E.O  Redactable )

Amanda Levay, has been on the back end of professional data handling for years. As a former loan consultant, Amanda handled confidential client data daily. She acquired a first-hand, back-end experience of the incompetencies and headaches of the existing data redaction software of the time.

Motivated by the unaddressed flaws in the status-quo of redaction software: data-masks that could easily be lifted; incapable A.I. software that does not accurately represent the strides and potential of NLP and OCR technology; and the collective requirement for a one-click Redaction software aided her motivation to build Redactable.

How was this challenge met? 

Integrating and solving all facets of flaws of status-quo redaction tools and software–including Adobe– Redactable provides a one clean-sweep software that eradicates the problems with data redaction through features such as one-click Redaction to clear all your redaction needs, collaboration to work on projects with teammates and colleagues- streamlining workflow, and a back-bone of permeance- redactable removes ALL trails of sensitive data, meta-data and hidden elements

Like a door-step laundry service that bundles up that shameful, overflowing hamper and brings you back a set of clean clothes, Redactable handles all your redaction problems and gives you a clean, secure and accurately redacted document. Let’s explore some key features of Redactable that makes it so great:

Redacting in Redactable:

Complete auto-redaction, team collaboration and workflow management with redaction history and Redaction certificates- You can do it all in this neatly packed instrument that redacts all your documents in as little as four steps: 

  1. Upload
  1. Choose a redaction option
  1. Discard any items you don’t want or go ahead with auto-redaction
  1. Voila! retrieve your redacted document 

Even listing the steps seems a gross injustice in depicting how easy and seamless the user-experience truly is  when using this software.

Rest assured however, the apparent simplicity is the intended result, substantiate by years of proud dedication and effort, to deliver the need of a hands-free redaction tool. 

What Redactable offers:

  • One-click, multi-page auto-redaction beyond data masks and security vulnerabilities.
  • Collaboration to streamline workflow with your team including annotations and time-stamps along with Redaction History and Redaction Certificates - giving a complete framework for transparency and access.
  • A clear and professional Privacy Policy that complies with GDPR and CCPA guidelines.
  • Unlimited Data-Redaction for as little as $49.99/ Month with a free 7-day-trial - Use the software as much as you require with no limits!
  • Integrated with Google Drive, DropBox, OneDrive and Box for easy access and workflow.  

Redactable propels its users into the next evolution of streamlined workflow to accelerate daily lives past the unnecessary trenches and time warps of previous, limiting redaction tools.

One-click. Process. Delete. Permanently. It's that simple.

Like a sensitive-data, Redactable does all the work while you can focus on what matters- that laundry hamper that is still taunting you…well me. Before I tackle the mountain of white-tees, here's a link to try Redactable for free and see what I’m talking about! Join the trusted customer list that include  Revelry Venture Partners, Tampa Bay Wave, CFV Ventures who have all eased their daily practices and proudly champion Redactable for its capability and prowess.

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