When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

25 January 2006

Editing tips from the NSA

Hiding confidential information with black marks works on printed copy, but not with electronic documents, the National Security Agency has warned government officials.

The agency makes the point in a guidance paper on editing documents for release, published last month following several embarrassing incidents in which sensitive data was unintentionally included in computer documents and exposed. The 13-page paper is called: "Redacting with confidence: How to safely publish sanitized reports converted from Word to PDF."

Instead of covering up digital text with black boxes, it is better to delete any information you don't want to share, the NSA suggested.

Editing tips from the NSA: CNET News.com

Update: On the TECHWR-L mailing list, user Sue Gallagher points us to a very useful redaction tool for users of Microsoft Word 2003:
The Microsoft Office Word 2003 Redaction Add-in makes it easy for you to mark sections of a document for redaction. You can then redact the document so that the sections you specified are blacked out. You can either print the redacted document or use it electronically. In the redacted version of the document, the redacted text is replaced with a black bar and cannot be converted back to text or retrieved.

Sensitive government documents, confidential legal documents, insurance contracts, and other sensitive documents are often redacted before being made available to the public. With the Word 2003 Redaction Add-in, users of Microsoft Office Word 2003 now have an effective, user-friendly tool to help them redact confidential text in Word documents.

Microsoft Word 2003 Redaction Add-In

(Also posted at Knowledge Work.)

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