NSA: Redacting With Confidence

01.20.06 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The National Security Agency has issued new guidance to assist officials in redacting (censoring) documents in Microsoft Word format and producing unclassified Adobe Portable Document (PDF) files without inadvertently disclosing sensitive information.

“MS Word is used throughout the DoD and the Intelligence Community (IC) for preparing documents, reports, notes, and other formal and informal materials. PDF is often used as the format for downgraded or sanitized documents.”

“There are a number of pitfalls for the person attempting to sanitize a Word document for release.”

For example, “As numerous people have learned to their chagrin, merely converting an MS Word document to PDF does not remove all [sensitive] metadata automatically.”

“This paper describes the issue, and gives a step-by-step description of how to do it with confidence that inappropriate material will not be released.”

See “Redacting with Confidence: How to Safely Publish Sanitized Reports Converted From Word to PDF,” National Security Agency, December 13, 2005: