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An Examination of the Redaction Functionality of Adobe Acrobat Pro DC 2017

This publication assesses the effectiveness of Adobe Acrobat Pro’s ability to redact information from PDF documentations.

First published 2011; Latest version April 2019


There have been numerous cases of security breaches resulting from a failure to effectively redact sensitive or private information from documents prior to release into the public domain. To assist in mitigating this security risk, Adobe Acrobat Pro DC 2017 provides redaction and sanitisation functionality that aims to completely remove undesirable information and other hidden information (e.g. metadata) from PDF documents.

This document provides guidance on the efficacy of redaction facilities within Adobe Acrobat Pro DC 2017 and is intended for information technology and information security professionals within organisations looking to redact sensitive or personal information from PDF documents before releasing them into the public domain or to other third parties.


  • Introduction
  • Scope of testing
  • Testing results and recommendations
    • Successful redaction outcomes
    • Failures in redacting information
    • Detailed testing results
    • Recommendations
    • Further information
  • Contact details
  • Appendix A: Detailed testing results
    • Test 1: Redaction of embedded text
    • Test 2: Redaction of text within an embedded image
    • Test 3: Redaction of historical revisions of text
    • Test 4: Redaction of text within a PDF form
    • Test 5: Embedded text obscured with an image
    • Test 6: Redacting encrypted PDF documents
    • Test 7: Sanitising PDF documents
  • Appendix B: Discussion of testing results
April 30th, 2019