Removing sensitive information with PhantomPDF Business: whiteout vs. redaction

by Guillermo Gonzalez, Solutions Consultant

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If you want to prevent sensitive information in your PDF files, such social security numbers, credit card information, and product launch dates, from getting into the wrong hands, simply placing a black block over text or images isn’t sufficient. The text and images are still there. Anyone can access them simply by putting their cursor over the area and copying and pasting to another document.

Instead, use Foxit PhantomPDF Business, which contains true redaction features. These tools let you permanently remove (redact) visible text and images from PDF documents to protect confidential information such as social security numbers or witness photos.

There are two different methods you can use. One is Whiteout, and the other is Redaction.

Whiteout is a one-click method that erases the content you select and switches the area it was in to a white background. Importantly, unlike other PDF software, the Whiteout feature in PhantomPDF Business is true redaction. It eliminates the data, metadata, and structural content where the tool was applied, which cannot be retrieved.

Redaction also eliminates the text and images you select but also provides you with additional capabilities in the Properties menu and to Search and Redact based on patterns. Redaction requires two steps: selecting (marking) the content for redaction and applying it. This enables you to review the content and be sure you want to redact it before you commit to it.

In both cases, the redaction is utterly secure, removing the original text or image from the document. No one can hover over the area to copy and paste, because the content is gone, period. Also, both methods are permanent and cannot be reversed.

Here’s how to apply them both.

Whiteout

Foxit PhantomPDF provides the Whiteout feature to enable you to erase information with one click to speed your workflow.

To remove content from your PDF with the Whiteout command, do the following:

  • Choose Protect > Redaction > Whiteout. The cursor changes into a cross.
  • Click and drag a rectangle around the content you want to remove.
  • Click OK in the prompt warning you that the “Whiteout” cannot be undone. You can click Don’t ask again in the prompt so that you won’t be bothered the next time you use the feature.

Now you can see the selected content is removed and replaced with the white background.

Redaction

Using Foxit PhantomPDF Business, redaction is a simple two-phase process that lets you first mark the text or graphics for Redaction, and then apply the redaction.

Mark for Redaction

To mark text or graphics for redaction, select Protect Redaction Mark for Redaction Text & Images, and the Hand command changes into a Cross automatically. Then do any the following to mark the content:

  • Drag a rectangle where you want to add redaction. This method allows you to select and mark both text and images at the same time.
  • Double-click an image to mark an entire image.
  • Hover the pointer over the text. When the pointer changes into, click and drag to select the text you want to redact.
  • Right-click the redaction box and choose Properties and choose options such as redaction fill color, overlay text, and redaction codes.

To mark pages for redaction, select Protect Redaction Mark for Redaction Pages, and choose the page range you want to add redaction to. In the Extract menu you can choose even or odd pages from the page range to add redaction to.

The marked content or page will be filled with black color in a red rectangle. You can move and resize the rectangle before you apply the redaction.

Apply Redactions

You need to apply the redactions after marking the text, graphics, or pages you want to redact. To apply the redaction, do the following:

  • Select Protect > Redaction > Apply Redactions. You can also do this by right-clicking the marked content and choosing Apply or Apply All to redact either the selected content or all of the marked content in the document.
  • A dialog box pops up to give a warning message and asks if you are sure to apply the redaction or not.
  • Select OK after you have marked all content that you want to redact.

You can save the redacted file automatically as a new file with a preconfigured filename that PhantomPDF Business gives it automatically. If you want to change the filename, select Adjust filename when saving applied redaction marks and input text in the Prefix and Suffix boxes in File Preferences Documents Redaction.

Using these redaction tools, you can distribute files with confidence by permanently removing sensitive data, ensuring no confidential information gets accidentally distributed.


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