Hacking Text

By on May 10, 2004

CNET posts an interesting New York Times article about a group of European researchers who have found ways to ‘un-black’ blacked out text in documents like those released by the government in recent months by using a process-of-elimination technique to figure out what words fit under the obscured area.

The researchers showed their software at the conference, called Eurocrypt, by analyzing a presidential briefing memorandum released in April to the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks. After analyzing the document, they said they had high confidence the word “Egyptian” had been blacked out in a passage describing the source of an intelligence report stating that Osama Bin Ladin was planning an attack in the United States.

Via BoingBoing.



  1. I read that they’re doing this by examining the font face and size, then averaging the size of the blacked out areas. Some math and a dictionary tells them what words would fit in the blacked out areas based on the font face and size in use throughout the rest of the document.

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