Redaction – Identity Theft ‘Vaccine’
A growing chief security officer headache is the increasing incidents which make personal employee and customer data vulnerable to physical and computer-based theft. Such identity theft crimes are a top government, enterprise and citizen concern, opening numerous organizations to liability and bad press.
Here’s a solution that can apply to many enterprises.
The Marion County Clerk of the Circuit Court in Ocala, Fla. maintains all county court files and records, ranging from mortgages and deeds to court judgments and traffic tickets. Recently, the agency implemented an automated redaction solution designed to remove such sensitive information as Social Security numbers, bank account numbers and credit and debit card numbers from public records. Using innovative technology (the Kofax Ascent platform and Kofax VirtualReScan), Marion County leveraged the capabilities of redaction software to comply with a Florida privacy mandate in less than seven weeks.
THE CHALLENGEUnder Florida’s current public records law, citizens are responsible for requesting that their private information be removed (or redacted) from public documents to minimize the potential for identity theft. But as of January 1, 2007, such responsibility will no longer rest on individuals’ shoulders. Rather, after this date, clerks of the court must automatically redact Social Security numbers and similar data from public records upon receipt, thereby ensuring that all sensitive information is kept confidential in line with Florida’s open-record laws.
To comply with the mandate, the Marion County Clerk decided to begin redacting data from existing documents long before the 2007 deadline. At the time, the county already had more than seven million official records dating back to 1965 that were electronically stored in an image archive solution developed by NewVisions Systems Corp. “We decided that implementing a software solution would be the best way to handle the redaction process,” said Jack Suess, chief deputy clerk of administrative services for the Marion County Clerk of the Circuit Court. The clerk’s office chose IntelliDact, a redaction solution developed by system integrator CSI. But the agency still needed an efficient means of extracting information from documents and delivering it to the redaction application. It also required a solution to enhance the quality of images scanned from documents
THE SOLUTION“The experts at CSI told us that for maximum efficiency, we had to have a solution that would execute information capture, processing and delivery alike,” Suess explains. “Ascent was the only application with this essential capability. In order to properly complete redaction, you need the best possible digital image,” Suess notes. “However, many paper records are hard to read because they are old. With the solution, paper documents are scanned, then automatically sharpened, cleaned and perfected before the system collects and delivers them to unstructured data recognition technology to search documents for sensitive information and automatically slate it for redaction.
BUSINESS RESULTSOnce all beta tests of the system were complete, CSI copied the Marion County Clerk’s entire database onto independent servers and began the redaction process on all seven million records in its back file of images. The job took less than seven weeks, making Marion County the first county in Florida to successfully comply with the redaction mandate.
Ascent played a major role in enabling the Marion County Clerk’s office to process such a large volume of documents in a short period of time, as well as to achieve compliance with the mandate ahead of schedule and before any other counties could do so. “Without the seamless collection, transformation and delivery of critical information, it would have been difficult to move documents through so quickly,” said Suess.
“While our statistics indicated only 8-10 percent of our records would actually contain information that would require redaction, we had no way of knowing which documents they would be, so we had no choice but to evaluate every document for possible redaction.”
Suess added that the redaction technology was equally instrumental in paving the way for success: It helped the agency to achieve a 99.7 percent redaction accuracy rating. “No matter how good a data recognition technology is, it will fail if the information on the front end is unreadable; as the old saying goes, ‘garbage in, garbage out’,” he observed.
New records are now redacted as they are scanned and hard, unredacted copies of all documents are maintained in the files for those citizens that require them.