Global data flows have been increasing exponentially since the early 2000s and are expected to continue accelerating as more transactions are done online. According to data published by the World Bank, in 2020 global internet traffic was estimated at 3 zettabytes, which is equivalent to 32Gb per person per month. Even more staggering is the fact that this number is expected to increase by 50% over the next 2-3 years.
With the meteoric rise in the sharing of data online, an equal effort has to be placed into protecting sensitive personal information from the eyes of the public. Data placed online is always at risk of being exposed, as hackers endeavour to break into cloud infrastructures, as deciphering algorithms get more sophisticated, and as human error continues to be a feature of humans. In 2022 alone, more than 22 billion corporate records were leaked, and about 30,000 websites were hacked each day, with most of those being small businesses.
There are many potential solutions to the data protection issues that many businesses grapple with today, but only a handful of them are as safe as redacting your documents. Most of the solutions presented come with risks and are best applied in conjunction with other methods, which are themselves subject to significant risks.
By permanently removing sensitive data from your documents, you are protected even in the event that your documents find their way into the dark web. You are also protected from future advances in Artificial Intelligence, and decryption algorithms as there is no way to reconstruct your data from the content remaining in these documents.
There are quite a few ways in which you can get your documents redacted for free and we shall explore a few of those here. Keep in mind that each of these has their own pros and cons.
If your document is in the form of a word processing file such as Microsoft Word, or Pages - for those MacBook users or Google Docs, you are in luck.
As you can see, this method can become quite tedious if you want to maintain the presentation standard of the original document. There is also the fact that the metadata of the document may still contain certain personal information about the author, creation time, and date of the newly created word processing file, particularly if the copy-paste was done on the author's personal computer or a work computer. At the same time, this method is very reliable in removing sensitive information from the body of the document.
Copy-pasting from some documents may be infeasible, especially if such documents have sensitive information embedded in images, diagrams, or charts. PDF documents can also be difficult to work with to copy-paste text, particularly when they have not been constructed according to strict standards. In such cases, you may be able to:
This method is good for handling sensitive information found in images, diagrams, or charts. It is also a reliable method of redacting documents. This method, however, shares some of the same shortcomings as the previous method. The most obvious is the fact that this is a tedious process, and is impractical when dealing with large documents. There is also the issue of the metadata, some personal information contained in the scanner will likely be passed onto the scanned document.
In many cases, your document will be in the form of Microsoft Word or PDF. In such cases, you have the option of hiding the sensitive information and converting the document to images to erase all trace evidence of the information. The process to redact your document by converting it to an image is slightly different based on whether you are starting out with a PDF or an MS Word document, and on whether you are using a PC or a Mac. If you are starting out with a Word document, you must do the following:
If you are starting out with a PDF document, it is a bit more complicated. You need to:
Again, as you can see, this method is also quite complex and difficult to get right especially when handling a large number of documents, or documents with many pages. It is also difficult to keep track of all the information that will be added to the metadata of the document. Furthermore, using free tools is an additional risk exposure for your personal information, as such tools may not have document security features in place.
If you are a small business operator or a person with a lot of documents to redact such as a lawyer/solicitor or a government official, a more efficient solution would be necessary. To ensure a seamless and efficient operation of your organisation, you must have adequate assurances around the certainty of completion, the handling of the metadata, and the security of your document. In addition, being able to redact documents with a certain degree of speed and efficiency is essential to helping your employees to focus on more value-added tasks such as legal research, or representation in court. DocEndorse has a turnkey solution to get redaction done quickly and efficiently.
Redacting documents with DocEndorse is a simple 3-step process that involves: a) uploading your document(s) - can be PDF, Word, images, Powerpoint; b) demarcate areas for redaction; and c) preview, and save. We also have various productivity tools that help you to speed up the process while maintaining a high degree of accuracy. See our redact page for more information about our software.
As the world continues to evolve and consumers demand ready access to services, an increasingly greater number of services will have to go online. In this context, the volume of data that businesses will have to make available on the web will certainly increase. Fortunately, digital security best practices have been improving, as well as the sophistication of encryption algorithms. Nevertheless, it is quite clear from the number incidents that have garnered global attention, that bad actors with ill-conceived intentions are also hard at work in coming up with new ways to steal data. Companies must therefore use every opportunity possible to erase sensitive data from any document they make available in a digital form. By redacting your documents the right way, you make it near impossible for third parties to retrieve sensitive information.