Unredacting informaiton

New Here ,
Apr 12, 2017 Apr 12, 2017

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A user asked me if the information in Adobe DC Pro could be unredacted by a newer version of Adobe DC. I'm pretty sure it can not be undone but I wanted to check just in case.

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Edit and convert PDFs, Security digital signatures and esignatures

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 12, 2017 Apr 12, 2017

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Hi Lilak2002,

Once you've applied a redaction, the information within the bounds of the redacted area is completely removed. It cannot be undone.

Mike

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New Here ,
Apr 12, 2017 Apr 12, 2017

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Awesome! Thank you!!!

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Community Beginner ,
Jul 03, 2017 Jul 03, 2017

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Hi Michael,

While seeking my file from a government entity, I was told Adobe Acrobat X Pro is not on their approved software list. Their procedure requires printing the documents (which arrived on media) and redact by hand. I prepared a test document using Rick's Guide to Redaction in X Pro to demonstrate Acrobat X's redaction capabilities, including applying the redactions. I learned their CIO was able to "hack it, change the color of the redactions, etc." Is it likely they are able to hack Acrobat's redactions? Does changing the color of the redaction reveal the hidden content? Thank you.

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Jul 03, 2017 Jul 03, 2017

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No, it can't be. If they were able to change it it means that the redactions were not applied, or they were not redactions at all.

Many people make the mistake of thinking that they can cover up text using form fields or comments and that it therefore goes away.

The only way of securely removing text from a PDF file is by using the Redaction tool in Acrobat, and I believe that the US federal government recommends it as the best way of redacting digital documents.

By the way, even redaction by hand can sometimes be reversed, if not done correctly.

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Community Beginner ,
Jul 03, 2017 Jul 03, 2017

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Interesting. Thank you. Would you mind pointing me to the government's redaction recommendation? Is it possible to post a sample test document?

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Jul 03, 2017 Jul 03, 2017

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A 2011 IAD (Information Assurance Directorate, part of the NSA) document about redaction procedures in Acrobat X Pro (also applies to later versions): https://www.iad.gov/iad/library/ia-guidance/security-configuration/applications/redaction-of-pdf-fil...

Not sure what kind of sample document you want to have... A redacted file?

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Community Beginner ,
Jul 03, 2017 Jul 03, 2017

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I didn't phrase my question well. Is it possible for me to post a document that has been redacted in Acrobat X for forum members to test?

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Jul 03, 2017 Jul 03, 2017

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Ah, sure... Upload it to a file-sharing website like Dropbox, Google Drive, Adobe Cloud, etc., and post the link to it here.

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Community Beginner ,
Jul 03, 2017 Jul 03, 2017

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Hi try67,

Here's a document I redacted with Acrobat X, applied redactions, and removed hidden data. I'm fine with this as I authored it, it concerns me, and it's public record. Please see what you can uncover. Thank you.

redaction_test_doc_Redacted.pdf - Box

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Jul 03, 2017 Jul 03, 2017

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I'm unable to retrieve any of the redacted information in this file. As KHK said, the fact they were able to change the color of the redacted areas is meaningless. The only real test is whether they are able to find out what text was removed from the file.

Redaction does not mean the file is locked and can't be edited in any way...

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 03, 2017 Jul 03, 2017

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You mentioned that they were able to "change the color of the redactions" - this does not mean that they are able to "hack" the redacted document. All that shows is that they have Adobe Acrobat and can edit static content in a PDF file. The text that was where that e.g. black rectangle now is is completely gone from the document, but they can of course (unless the document's security settings are preventing changes) change the color of the e.g. black rectangle to red or green, but that does not mean that they can recover the redacted information. If you start out by printing a document and then redacting by hand and then scanning the document again, I can also modify the color that was used to indicate information that was removed. All I need to do is to load the file in e.g. Adobe Photoshop and then use the tools available there. None of these methods will uncover properly redacted information. Unfortunately, just because somebody has the title CIO does not mean that they are know their way around information technology.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 12, 2017 Apr 12, 2017

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If you use the redaction function in Acrobat Pro (any version), the original information is gone and cannot be restored. Even a newer version of Acrobat will not be able to restore this information - it's no longer in the PDF file, and no method will be able to restore it.

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New Here ,
Apr 12, 2017 Apr 12, 2017

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Awesome! Thank you!!!

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New Here ,
Feb 26, 2021 Feb 26, 2021

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YES, YOU CAN!!!!

 

Highlight the redaction and/or text surrounding it, hit CTRL-C to copy, go to your word processor (I use Wordperfect X9), and hit CTRL-V to paste it.

 

Voila!  Goodbye redaction. 

 

I had a soldier try to hide information on his DD-214 by redacting it.  I got the above steps off a youtube video.  It did not per se unredact it, put it pasted the information as an image in a graphics box.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 26, 2021 Feb 26, 2021

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May be that the redaction were not applied.

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Feb 26, 2021 Feb 26, 2021

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Or it was not really redacted but someone used a text field or comment and then flattened it, thinking it's the same thing. It's a common mistake. Real redaction can't be undone.

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Feb 26, 2021 Feb 26, 2021

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Yes, please describe

1. Exactly which version of Acrobat Pro you used

2. Your exact steps to redact

There are lots of ways to cover up text, all useless. And there is real redaction.

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