Ensuring that sensitive information in your company’s documents is secure and that it’s properly redacted is paramount. Owning the ability to share company documents while masking the data that must be kept confidential is an important asset for any company today, especially in light of recent data breaches and cyberattacks. Protecting sensitive data from those outside your organization (as well as from some of those inside) should not be seen as a luxury, but as a vital security measure, as important as locks on the doors and security cameras on your physical assets.
This makes ensuring your document redaction process adheres to best practices — and is impervious to common ways to uncover redacted information — vital. Here, we discuss exactly how to ensure your documents are redacted properly.
What Is Document Redaction?
Document redaction is the process of removing readable elements from documents that are shared, both within and outside your organization. These elements usually include text, but can also be graphics or hyperlinks.
The exclusion of certain information from these documents can occur for many reasons — for example, the wording on a legal document may need to be shared, but the financial details of the same transaction may need to remain private. A secure method of being able to redact certain data from documents is required when sharing this information with others. This is particularly true with your organization’s proprietary information and intellectual property.
What Is Proprietary Information and Intellectual Property?
Another sort of data that falls into the same category is your company’s business data, which is mostly proprietary information and intellectual property data. These titles cover a wide range of material, but usually include a company’s financial information, personnel records, trade secrets, research and development information, and often what falls under or overlaps either category. Proprietary information includes financial statistics, along with other company-specific confidential details, while intellectual property most often includes copyrights, patents, trademarks, industrial designs, geographical indications and trade secrets.
Why Is Document Redaction Important?
In cases where certain information needs to be kept hidden from one (or more) recipients of the documents, a reliable system of document redaction must be implemented. Whether you’re a small business, a Fortune 500 firm or a government agency, having the ability to protect sensitive data is not only vital to prevent damage to your business’s reputation; it also can protect your company’s most vital asset — its data.
How to Redact a PDF Document
A Portable Document Format file (always abbreviated as PDF) is a standard computer file type. One benefit of a PDF is that (for the most part) it doesn’t require any additional software to be readable on virtually every type of computing device. Adobe’s Acrobat Pro software is the standard tool for building, working with and editing PDFs. Naturally, Acrobat Pro contains tools for redacting information on PDFs.
How to redact a PDF in Acrobat Pro, open it in Acrobat DC and select use one of the following options:
- Choose Tools > Redact in the menu
- Open the Edit menu > select Redact Text & Images
- Right click the text or image you wish to redact > select Redact
This is fairly simple to implement, but it is certainly not the only game in town — and can be very tedious if you need to redact a folio’s worth of PDFs at once.
Other Redaction Software Options
Of course, with every reaction, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and digital security is no exception. When a new security measure is put into place, there are always attempts to crack it or circumvent it. Therefore, a highly secure and sophisticated method of document redaction is necessary. There are tools that are built into Adobe’s Acrobat Pro that are able to effectively redact elements in PDF documents. However, in situations that require extremely robust redaction tools, an alternative solution is necessary.
A company that specializes in virtual data rooms and document security is your best bet for navigating the dangerous road of digital security in your shared documents. A highly effective PDF redaction software should come from a reputable company, one that has a stellar track record of security. It should remove content (as opposed to masking it, which can be revealed via simply copy and pasting the text into a separate document), work on all types of PDF files, remove text along with graphic images, have a “search and redact” functionality and have the option to perform full-page and multi-page redactions.
In addition, the ability to remove the metadata in a PDF document is also a good idea. Metadata is “hidden code” within the document — every type of document includes it — and the metadata containing the original file (a Microsoft Word document, for example) may still be found within a PDF document that it was created from. This metadata may include (among other information) information about the author and revision history of the document, along with copyright and other potentially sensitive data, such as previously deleted elements. Needless to say, a tool that scrubs the metadata from PDFs is vitally important.
The Final Word
Having a partner who is experienced in providing document security and easy-to-use software like Caplinked is paramount in having the ability to properly redact sensitive information in your documents. Excluding private information from release outside your organization (or even to certain segments within your organization) is extremely important. Having the capability of easily and effectively being able to process redactions is mandatory. Sharing documents that contain intellectual property or proprietary information with others outside your organization may be necessary in business dealings; but ensuring that PDF documents are properly redacted is necessary in any situation, in order to keep your intellectual property or proprietary information secure.
Interested in learning more about our ultra-secure redaction tools? Start your free trial today.
Chris Capelle is a technology expert, writer and instructor. For over 25 years, he has worked in the publishing, advertising and consumer products industries.