Pick up a newspaper or watch the evening news and at some point you have seen a redacted document – you know - that nice document with all the black boxes covering up the data.

Recently I received a PDF file with a redacted document. When I printed it, the boxes were there and the private data was concealed.

Since I am in the industry, I decided to open the document and take a closer look at it. And sure enough, all the private data was there – hiding in the meta data within the document. Now, not everyone has the tools to do that, but I assure you that the bad guys (who want to steal private information) do.

What can you do to protect documents that are redacted? First, you need a tool that analyzes the document and REMOVES the sensitive data while creating the black boxes (or perhaps just covers up the data with a white, or non-print box). Either way, the key to true redaction is to completely remove the sensitive data – ALL OF IT!

But there is an even better method than blacking out the fields or placing a white (no print) box on top of them, especially if you are creating test data files or files that will be out of your control, and you want to ensure compliance with regulations and internal procedures.

Software tools are available to scramble the data. This is very useful in two ways. First, you have all the fields in the exact place with the proper spacing and character size. This is particularly beneficial if you are providing test files for production and want to make sure there aren’t any extra lines or spaces that are not represented in the actual document. The second is to garner a better feel for ink usage. I was talking with an “inkjet” expert recently, and she indicated this is a great way to produce files for testing. Keep in mind – once the data is changed the meta data in the document is gone.

This sounds simple and it is, provided you know what you are doing and have the proper tools to redact with confidence. If you are unsure, or want to learn more, drop me a note and we can chat.

David Day, EDP brings over 32 years of experience in the document management & mail industry. As an active member of Xplor for over 17 years, David frequently presents at local and global Xplor meetings. He has also been a guest speaker at various company user and industry groups including National Postal Forum, Graph Expo and Mailcom. David, Product Marketing Manager at CrawfordTech, is responsible for worldwide for their Enterprise Output Management Products. He works with customers, prospects, sales and product development to identify customer requirements, evaluate solutions and make product recommendations