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March 31, 2024
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5
 min read

Image Redaction: Discover and Redact Sensitive PCI ,PII & PHI Data in Images

Image Redaction: Discover and Redact Sensitive PCI ,PII & PHI Data in Images
Calendar Icon White
March 31, 2024
Clock Icon
5
 min read

Image Redaction: Discover and Redact Sensitive PCI ,PII & PHI Data in Images

TL;DR

When it comes to protecting sensitive data within images, image redaction is a must. It prevents unauthorized disclosure and ensures compliance with data protection laws like GDPR and HIPAA. There are various solutions available, such as Strac, which offers automated redaction capabilities. The key to effective redaction is masking sensitive information without degrading the overall quality of the image; this process is also irreversible, ensuring permanent protection. When choosing a redaction tool, consider factors like data types, regulatory needs, integration capabilities, and cost to find the best fit for your organization.

Failing to redact sensitive information embedded within images can have severe consequences, including costly data breaches, loss of customer trust, and legal repercussions. 

The Verizon data breach in September 2023, where an insider threat exposed over 63,000 employee records with sensitive details like names, addresses, and Social Security Numbers, is a sobering reminder of the importance of robust data protection measures.

As privacy regulations evolve, security engineers, CISOs, and business leaders across industries must implement efficient and scalable image redaction solutions. Manual processes are time-consuming and prone to human error, making automated solutions an increasingly attractive option for organizations seeking to maintain compliance and safeguard their valuable data assets.

This is where AI-driven image redaction comes into play. It offers a precise, efficient, and future-proof approach to identifying and redacting sensitive visual data. With advanced algorithms, solutions like Strac.io are simplifying how organizations tackle this critical aspect of data security.

What are the common types of sensitive information found in images?

Personal Identifiable Information (PII)

This includes names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, social security numbers, driver's license numbers, passport numbers, and any other data that can be used to identify an individual.

Financial information

Credit card numbers, transaction reports, annual audits, bank account details, financial statements, tax statements, and other information related to an individual's or organization's financial status.

Health Information

Medical records, treatment information, insurance details, and other personal health information (PHI).

Business Information

Trade secrets, confidential emails, internal reports, clients, investments, business strategies, patents, and any proprietary information that a company considers valuable and wants to keep private.

Legal documents

Court documents, contracts, legal correspondence, and other documents containing sensitive legal information.

Government IDs and documents

Identification cards, visas, work permits, and other government-issued documents.

Employee data

Includes authentication data, usernames, passwords, private/public keys for internal systems, and financial information. 

Operational data

Operational data includes sensitive information such as product specifications, market research, contracts with suppliers and third parties, and product inventories.

Now that we have learned what type of sensitive data can be found in images, let’s see how to detect them.

How does image redaction protect sensitive information?

Failing to identify and redact confidential data from visual content can lead to devastating consequences, including costly data breaches, erosion of customer trust, and potential legal liabilities. Traditional manual redaction processes are time-consuming and prone to human error, making it difficult to maintain robust data privacy and compliance at scale. 

This is where Strac comes into play, revolutionizing how organizations approach image redaction.
AI-based Image redaction typically involves 2 steps:

  • Inspection
  • Redaction

1. Inspection

When an image is submitted to the DLP system, it is converted from binary data to a text format that is easily transferred over the internet. The system then uses Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology to scan and recognize any text in the image. This allows the DLP system to convert scanned paper documents, PDFs, or images with text into searchable and editable data. After conversion, the data is scanned against predefined rules for sensitive information such as PHI or PII. 

2. Redaction 

If the DLP system recognizes sensitive data within an image, it marks those portions with metadata including the location and size of bounding boxes around the text. Then, these sensitive areas will be obscured by opaque rectangles during processing to make sure the information is not visible or legible.

Unlike traditional methods, Strac redaction seamlessly integrates into existing workflows, eliminating the need for disruptive overhauls. Its intuitive interface and user-friendly controls empower teams to adopt a proactive approach to image redaction, further enhancing data security without compromising productivity.

Moreover, Strac robust analytics and reporting capabilities provide comprehensive insights into redaction effectiveness, enabling data-driven optimization and ensuring organizations stay ahead of emerging threats and regulatory landscapes.

Exploring automated solutions for image redaction

Google Cloud Vision API

Google Cloud Vision API is an image analysis service that detects and redacts sensitive data within images. Its advanced machine learning models utilize optical character recognition (OCR) to identify text, making it perfect for automatically redacting PHI or PII compliance. This API can be seamlessly integrated with other Google Cloud services for a scalable and efficient solution for image redaction needs.

ScanWritr

ScanWritr is a web-based tool designed to redact sensitive information from documents and images. It offers easy-to-use features for manually obscuring parts of an image to protect privacy or comply with data protection regulations. With its simple interface, ScanWritr provides a convenient solution for editing, annotating, and redacting documents without any software installation.

Strac

Strac DLP specializes in image redaction as part of its sensitive data management suite. It focuses on the Discover, Classify, and Protect mechanism to detect and redact sensitive information across various document and image types, supporting compliance with various data protection regulations. 

Here's how Strac protects your sensitive data:

Discover

Strac's system uses advanced scanning technology to detect and protect sensitive information within images, including commonly used formats such as JPEG and PNG and documents like PDFs and DOCX files. This includes identifying important data under regulatory compliance, such as PII and PHI.

Classify

Once sensitive data is discovered in images, Strac classifies them based on their level of sensitivity and relevant regulatory standards. This makes it easier to determine the necessary redaction measures to protect your data, whether it falls under GDPR, HIPAA, or PCI DSS regulations.

Protect

Strac uses redaction techniques to remove/mask any sensitive information found in images. This ensures that the redacted image complies with data privacy regulations and is free from any potential breaches.

SaaS, Endpoint, & Cloud Integrations

Strac seamlessly integrates with SaaS, endpoints, and cloud applications. The setup just takes about five minutes to use the platform's redaction features.

Automated notifications

Strac helps you stay informed with automated notifications in case of data breaches or sensitive information detection for proactive risk mitigation and immediate security issue resolution.

Custom detectors

Starc offers custom detectors tailored for compliance with major regulatory standards such as PCI, HIPAA, and GDPR - essential for organizations that strictly adhere to these regulations.

High accuracy

With AI-driven technology, Starc guarantees high accuracy in detecting and redacting sensitive data in unstructured text and documents, providing a reliable and efficient redaction process for businesses.

Share your images confidently, knowing they are free from potential risks. 

Book your demo with Strac today.

Factors to keep in mind before choosing an image redaction solution: 

1. What kinds of sensitive data can it identify and redact? 

2. How precise is the redaction process? 

3. Does it support the necessary file formats? 

4. Can it seamlessly integrate with your current systems and workflows? 

5. To what extent can you customize the tool? 

6. How does it guarantee compliance with data protection regulations like GDPR, HIPAA, or CCPA? 

7. What impact does it have on the quality of redacted images? 

8. What are the associated costs?

9. How user-friendly is the software?

10. What level of customer support and training do they offer?

FAQs

How does redacting an image impact its overall quality? 

When redacting an image, only the sensitive areas are altered to hide them from view, while the rest of the image remains untouched, ensuring that the original quality is maintained.

Can image redaction be automated, or does it require manual effort?

Image redaction methods vary; some can be automated, while others require manual intervention. Redaction tools like Strac utilize cutting-edge algorithms and machine learning for automated redaction without human input.

Is it possible to reverse redacted images and expose sensitive information? 

Effective image redaction is irreversible - once data is redacted, it's permanently hidden and cannot be retrieved under any circumstances!

Founder, Strac. ex-Amazon Payments Infrastructure (Widget, API, Security) Builder for 11 years.

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