Friday, June 06, 2008

How-to: Redaction & Metadata

While you are being careful to strip metadata from your documents, be sure to not overlook the need to redact properly. In a recent Connecticut Law Tribune article, A Major Redaction Gaffe, Douglas Malan writes about the ease with which sensitive data can be easily discovered if the proper techniques are not used in our digital world.

When you need to redact information from a digital document, simply covering the text with a black box or black highlighting does not erase the information. Even when the document is converted to PDF, it is more than likely still going to be accessible. As Malan describes, all you need to do is copy the blocked material and paste it into a word processing document to see the hidden data.

If you need to redact a document, be sure to fully delete the information in such a way that the original document format is not modified. The National Security Agency has provided very complete instructions to do this in their Document on Redaction. You can also, according to Malan, invest in the latest Adobe PDF conversion software to scrub the data behind a redacted section.

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