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Document Security Considerations – Redaction

Pick up a newspaper or watch the evening news and at some point you have seen a redacted document.  You know what this is — that nice document with all the black boxes covering up the data. At first glance, this seems to accomplish the objective of concealing and protecting personal and confidential information.

However, in taking a closer look (both literally and metaphorically), it’s not that simple. Redaction was originally intended for print, and of course is still widely used for print output. It’s pretty basic – certain bits of text are covered up so that they can’t be read.

However, in our digital world, black boxes are not enough, since in most cases that information still exists in the document. A selection of tools are available that will allow someone to open the document and find that data. These tools typically require digging into the metadata, and in some cases are fairly esoteric and require skill, but we can assume that the bad people who want to steal personal and confidential information are quite capable of doing this.

So how can you ensure that you are following today’s best practices when redacting documents? And is that enough – or should you be doing more?  What role does redaction play in being in compliance with global regulations?

What is needed to properly redact personal and confidential information today is a tool that analyzes the document and removes the sensitive data while creating a black box or even a white box to indicate that something has been redacted. If the data is not there, no tool or amount of skill will allow it to be revealed.

That seems straightforward enough, but what about when you are creating files that are completely or partly out of your control? What about data driven communications or test files? A more powerful method than removing information is to use a software tool that will scramble the data. There are a few benefits to this approach.

The key advantage is that it keeps content in place with the appropriate spacing and character size. Many service providers find this to be useful to get a more accurate assessment of ink usage when testing before final output – either in a live production environment, or when looking at new equipment. It also approximates the look and feel of the document much more closely, a fact that’s helpful when getting buy-in or approval from customers.

CrawfordTech’s Redaction Express is a flexible and powerful tool that automates the process of redacting sensitive information. It can be easily added on to any of our print stream transforms and other solutions.

We think Redaction Express is a great solution, so are pleased to offer a special promotion – a free 30 day trial version so that you can try it out. It couldn’t be simpler! We provide the software with no restrictions, and include training and support. Learn more and sign up here.

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November 29, 2017


  • Ernie Crawford
    CEO & President

    Ernie Crawford is the founder and CEO of Crawford Technologies, a global leader in the print and electronic document industries. With over four decades of experience, Ernie is a respected thought leader and innovator in the field of document management and has been recognized for his contributions to the industry with numerous awards and accolades. He is committed to delivering innovative solutions to his clients and has led Crawford Technologies through significant growth and expansion while maintaining a focus on exceptional customer service. Ernie is a sought-after speaker and has presented at numerous industry events and conferences.

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