19/04/2011

By Anke Schnedler, Adobe Acrobat marketing manager

The Ministry of Defence, Department of Health, and Department for Communities and Local Government have all published sensitive information on the internet. The error, it is claimed, was the result of the departments failing to properly 'redact' classified information, meaning that the information, supposed to be hidden from public view, was generally available on the internet.

Review document management software - the first step to overcome redaction errors is to ensure your organisation has the tools in place to redact documents properly. It’s worth taking the time to explore the redaction tools available in your document management software to make sure that you and your company aren’t caught out

The right software - if your document management software is not sufficient, it is worth investing in a secure, safe and irreversible tool for redacting confidential information with PDF documents

Redaction policy - once you have your document management tool in place, draft a redaction policy and ensure you communicate the policy and associated procedures to your employees. You might need to consider rolling-out a staff training programme across your organisation

Covered not removed - one of the most common mistakes made is to assume that placing a black rectangle over information will fully remove it. This is not the case, if you cut and paste the blacked out area from the original document into another document the hidden information will be revealed

Permanently hidden - the only way to properly remove or hide sensitive information, is by using the specific redaction tools that are available in software such as Adobe Acrobat

Hide and seek - always remember that there are obscure places in PDF and Word documents where comments or metadata may lurk. Use the tools in your document management software to automatically look for the concealed information, so you can remove it

Time saving – utilise the advanced redaction tools like pattern redaction or batch redaction to quickly redact large documents or multiple documents

Save another file - be sure to save the redacted document as a different file to ensure that your redactions are completed

Remember your information is only as safe as the measures you take to protect it.