Nearly 80% of all information theft occurs offline
[BBC Radio 4 report]
As an organisation in the UK you are required under the Data Protection Act 1998 to have a robust policy covering the storage and disposal of data. However there are many different methods and standards of secure data disposal, similar regulations are in place worldwide.
This article intends to provide an insight into the varying methods and standards of physical data disposal and guidance for a proportional solution to your needs.
The fundamental purpose of secure data disposal is to discard hard copy information whilst maintaining the integrity of the data contained within it .Generally this means mechanical destruction. There are many forms of mechanical destruction that vary in capability starting from the most basic strip cut systems to grinders that disintegrate the data. The effectiveness of shredders is measured by the size and randomness of the cut and the amount of documents that it can process.
- Strip-cut most common solution cutting long strips
- Cross-cut shredders use two contra-rotating drums to cut specific -shapes
- Particle-cut shredders create tiny square or circular pieces.
- Disintegrators repeatedly cutting the paper at random until the particles are small enough to pass through a mesh.
- Hammermills pound the paper through a screen.
- Pierce and Tear Rotating blades pierce the paper apart.
- Grinders rotating shaft with cutting blades grinds the paper until it is small enough to pass through mesh.
Un-shredding is the process of reclaiming shredded documents This is possible ,either manually or by computer software .Recently the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa), offered $50,000 (£31,961) to the first team to reassemble five shredded hand-written documents and answer the puzzles contained in each of them. The winning team was a group of Californian computer programmers led by Otavio Good, a former video game developer who said “A lot of these shredders are maybe not as secure as you thought, and maybe you should get a better shredder if you want these really and truly not to be assembled.”.
The finer the cut and the more random your shredder is the harder reassembling the data becomes, the most effective way of ensuring that documents cannot be reconstructed is shredding followed by incineration. This method is used by major companies such as Barclays bank, HSBC and several major Football clubs.
There are many company’s offering off site shredding services. This involves collecting bags of confidential documents and delivering them to a secure shredding facility where they are usually stored for a period of time then destroyed and recycled into a variety of paper products. Care needs to be taken to ensure that security is maintained during transport to the shredding facility and other collection locations.
RECYCLING WASTE PAPER
According to Head Water Recycling, recycling one ton of paper saves 17 trees, 3 cubic yards of landfill space, 2 barrels of oil, 7,000 gallons of water and 4,100 kilowatt hours of electricity.
Waste documents will most likely be stored for some time before processing, care should be taken as insecurely stored documents are a risk to your organisation.
The amount of rubbish we create is constantly increasing and recycling shredded documents is a powerful way your business could reduce waste and improve green credentials.
It is important to identify the sensitivity of your documents and to balance the cost of more effective destruction techniques with the need for secure data destruction, it is also important to consider the environmental impact of the chosen system.