Microsoft has launched an add-on for Word that lets users blank out sensitive information before publishing or emailing documents.
The Word 2003 Redaction Add-in takes its name from the verb “to redact” – to make ready for publication – often used in the US to mean the removal or masking of sensitive information before publication.
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The software, available as a download, allows users to mark sections of a Word document to be concealed using a special toolbar. Selected text can then be “redacted” – blacked out – at the click of a button.
Microsoft compared the facility to that used by governments to obscure secret information in published documents. “Sensitive government documents, confidential legal documents, insurance contracts, and other sensitive documents are often redacted before being made available to the public.”
The download will come as a relief to users who have tried to mask sensitive parts of documents by using Word’s highlighter function with the colour set to black – an insecure method that allows readers to reveal the secret information by removing or changing the highlight colour.