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  1. #1
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    Word Redaction add-in (2003)

    Word 2003 Add-in: Word Redaction is a free add-in from Microsoft. Redaction is the careful editing of a document to remove confidential information. This add-in lets you mark sections of a document for redaction, you can then apply the redaction so that the sections you specified are blacked out.

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    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Re: Word Redaction add-in (2003)

    Can someone who decides to try this post a sample redacted document? I don't have Word 2003 on my office PC, and I'm interested to see how the redactions appear in Word 2002. Thanks!

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    Re: Word Redaction add-in (2003)

    Sample attached. A part of the redaction process includes an option to prevent the redacted file from being modified.
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    Re: Word Redaction add-in (2003)

    Second sample, this one does not include the document protection option.
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    Re: Word Redaction add-in (2003)

    The blacked-out text is not readable in Word 2002; when I open the document using the "Recover text from any file" option, the blacked-out text is shown as a series of vertical dashes ||| ||||

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    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Re: Word Redaction add-in (2003)

    Same is true in StarOffice 6. Would be important to save "as" a copy rather than save "over" the original when using this add-in!

    This would have worked much better than Acrobat in the case of the redacted memo from earlier this year...
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    Re: Word Redaction add-in (2003)

    I just downloaded and tested this new addin. After marking several entries using the toolbar and then clicking Redact Document, it created a new document which I then had to save. My original document with the marked text was still open.

    It also seems that metadata cleaning software such as Payne Metadata Assistant will not expose any redacted entries as well.

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    Re: Word Redaction add-in (2003)

    <P ID="edit" class=small>(Edited by AlanMiller on 08-Aug-05 11:07. )</P>This is also what I observe direct from a hex editor. The vertical bars are h7C and the blanks h20 characters. There appears to be nothing "underneath" the bars and blanks though.

    Alan

    Added: It would seem that a simple search/ replace macro, replacing "|<space>|" with "|||" would at least "add" something to the security of the add-in.

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    Re: Word Redaction add-in (2003)

    I just added the new Redaction facility to my two-week old Dell running XP with all up-to-date Office and Windows updates. It worked, but now everytime I close Word, I get a message that changes were made to the global template and asking if I want to change it. This happens even if I just open and close Word without doing anything. I finally had to disable it (I renamed the folder that the redaction stuff is stored in). Anybody else find this problem? Anyone have a solution other than removal?

    Thanks.

    Bob

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    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Re: Word Redaction add-in (2003)

    This is the second Microsoft add-in reported to have this unfortunate side effect (the first was the metadata removal tool). It probably results from the add-in creating and destroying menu items and/or toolbars. I doubt there's any way for an end user to "fix" it.

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    Re: Word Redaction add-in (2003)

    Opening the document in Word 97, I found it readable--with the exception of the redacted text--however I was unable to place the insertion point any where other than the beginning of the document. All editing capability seems to have been greyed out. The document is protected.
    Opening a new document and then inserting the redacted document into it enables all of the editing capabilities (apparently the protection has been defeated). Selecting the complete document and then setting the highlighting to "None", exposes the vertical bars "Asc(124)" and spaces "Asc(32)".
    Regards
    Don

  12. #12
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    Re: Word Redaction add-in (2003)

    What you describe sounds like the way it is supposed to work. At no time should you be able to determine the words that were replaced with vertical bars. Unless, of course, you have the original source. <img src=/S/wink.gif border=0 alt=wink width=15 height=15>

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    Re: Word Redaction add-in (2003)

    I had a closer look at the inner working of this add-in. For those who are interested, here are some findings and comments:
    1. MS uses Gray-25% shading text (RGB 192,192,192) as the marker for text that need to be redacting. Sine this is a default color in the shading dialog, it would have made more sense if the "Mark" button used a less likely color (such as RGB 192,192,193), so that text that has been deliberately marked as Gray-25% isn't automatically blacked out by the tool. Both the Office Letter and AskWoody mentioned this as a handicap.
    2. When marked text is redacted, Word creates bookmarks (in the original document) for each bit of marked text. These bookmarks have the name "Redaction", followed by a 31-character code, such as "Redaction0736203623314d8a98ee1812aa37613". If consecutive paragraphs are marked, each paragraph gets its own bookmark. I'm not sure if the code is random, or contains some internal information.
    3. When bookmarked text is replaced with the pipe characters (|), MS uses an algorhytm that (more or less) makes sure that the replacement text takes up the same amount of space as the original text. Each characters is replaced with 2, 3, 4, or 5 pipe characters. E.g. a capital A is replaced with ||||, but a lowercase a with |||. The letters I, i, J, and j, all become ||. The letters M and W become |||||. I'm still trying to figure out how that algorhythm works. If this is hardcoded, a code cracker could probably make a good guess about the contents of the original text.
    If anybody has found more interesting facts it would be nice to read about them here.

  14. #14
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    Re: Word Redaction add-in (2003)

    It's a good point about counting ||| characters to try to determine the missing text. Not that I think it would be easy! If one did not care about preserving the original appearance, one could find and replace all gray-highlighted strings of ||| characters and replace them with the word REDACTED in black-on-black. (Actually, I don't know whether Find and do that, but you could do it in code.)

  15. #15
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    Re: Word Redaction add-in (2003)

    At least it's obvious from the sample above that it's a "Mr. Lemuel Gulliver", not a "Mrs."

    <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15> Klaus

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