No matter what type of business you conduct, more than likely you are in possession of confidential documents that the company is responsible for keeping safe. It is important that a business have in place some type of policy that details how to properly store and dispose of these documents. If you do not, it would be wise to implement one as soon as possible. The common practice of tossing sensitive paperwork out into the trash when it is no longer needed is an invitation for trouble.
Any good identity thief knows how to dumpster dive outside of businesses to look for buried treasure among the trash. The treasure they seek is documents that contain confidential information such as a person’s name, address, social security number, bank account and other private information. Any business that is not taking proper measures to thoroughly destroy these types of documents may find themselves facing legal trouble.
Fortunately, an easy solution to this problem comes in the form of paper shredding services. These are companies that specialize in shredding large volumes of documents in a safe and secure manner.
What Type of Documents Need to be Shredded?
Most companies generate a continuous flow of paperwork that involves employees, customers, business clients and vendors.
Most employees are required to fill out an application and tax documents. These require the person to share their private information with employers. Usually, these documents are kept on file for the duration of an employee’s tenure. After an employee leaves, they can be discarded. However, just because someone isn’t working at the business anymore doesn’t mean that business isn’t liable for that private information.
Customers are sometimes asked to share private information in order to set up an account with a business. There may be computerized and paper documentation on file. Customers usually trust that a business is competent enough to safeguard their private data. However, that depends on the business having a policy specifying how to handle customer information that is collected.
Business Client Information
Similar to customer information, you may have documents pertaining to your dealings with other businesses. If you sell to other companies, you may have documents that contain company financial data. There may be legal documents regarding sensitive contracts that should never be made public. Basically, you should shred anything that another business could sue you over if the wrong person obtains this information.
If there is any sensitive information that your vendors wish to keep private, such as contracts, you should be sure to add these to the shred pile.
Legal and Medical Documents
If you have a business that revolves around the legal or medical professions, you definitely should never be casually dumping old paperwork into the trash.
Using Paper Shredding Services
Paper shredding services exist to help businesses be able to easily and safely dispose of all sorts of confidential documents. Don’t risk being sued. Instead, hire a company to come in and shred old paperwork into tiny bits
Paper shredding and electronic document destruction aren’t just ‘bonuses’ that some businesses offer to attract new customers. These services are also a legal requirement that companies must provide to avoid fines and other serious consequences.
What’s the Gist?
For Canadian businesses, PIPEDA, or the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act was created to protect sensitive information from theft, loss or other misuse. If any commercial organization is in possession of personal information that’s is no longer required to fulfill the identified purpose, then it should be destroyed.
It’s also required that commercial organizations that are in possession of such information, develop guidelines and procedures to oversee the destruction. This is why so many companies hire businesses like Shred-It for their paper shredding and document destruction. Professional shredding companies will develop a schedule and most importantly implement the paper shredding and document destruction activities for you.
You will also get a certificate of destruction as an official declaration that paper shredding and document destruction has taken place.
Protects Businesses & the Public
Paper shredding and document destruction laws are important because they protect businesses and members of the public. For customers, it’s easy to see how the laws are beneficial. When someone gives over personal financial information, the potential for identity theft is always there. Anyone that has had their bank account emptied, credit cards compromised or identity stolen knows how long it can take to get everything back to normal. The effects are devastating, which is one of the reasons that laws were enacted.
For businesses, fraud, the potential for lawsuits and even corporate espionage are all real threats when it comes to confidential information being taken. The laws will keep these possibilities to a minimum and help protect a company’s interests.
Of course, there are times when it’s the business that isn’t taking the confidential information seriously that is the real problem. For these situations, document destruction and paper shredding laws help create accountability so all businesses will do the right thing. Being held accountable for something is a strong motivator for many people, and in the end everyone except the identity thieves and dishonest employees will benefit.
Industrial shredders are used across many different industries in order to destroy or break down waste. They are used for wood, tires, plastics and paper. The central component in every shredder is the cutting system. The cutting system is the mechanism that is used in order to actually shred or otherwise reduce waste into smaller pieces. Most cutting systems are based on shafts or rods that are equipped with blades or other fixtures that turn slowly as waste is fed into the machine. There are also high-speed knife mills and hammer mills for other applications. Each cutting system has different benefits.
A single-shaft shredder has a single cylinder that is covered in blades or another tool shape. The shaft sits at the bottom of a hopper that could be fed manually or with a hydraulic ram. The advantage of a single-shaft shredder is simplicity. These units are easy to operate and will encounter few problems while running. The blades are easy to maintain and can be replaced very little effort depending on the design. Single-shaft cutters are used for a variety of materials from wood to plastic.
Two-shaft shredders have two bars intermeshed at the bottom of a hopper. The blades on each bar occupy the empty space between blades on the opposing bar. The two shafts rotate in opposite directions pulling waste downwards into the center. A two-shaft shredder creates smaller output than a single-shaft design. The counter-rotation of the shafts also makes it much easier to process waste that has an odd shape since it will be grasped by the blades and pulled downwards. Many two-shaft shredders are specially designed to handle certain types of waste like tires. The units are easy to maintain and have a very low chance of jamming even under heavy use.
A three-shaft cutting system contains three cylinders covered in blades or blades and hooks. This type of shredder is designed to handle very dense or heavy waste and extremely high volumes of materials. The blades are often arranged in a triangular formation so that waste is drawn into a central area where all three blades shred the debris at once. The spinning blades are able to capture heavy materials and then continually cut it until it has reached the desired size. Most systems are equipped with a screen system so that debris that is too large is captured and run through the shafts again later. Large three-shaft shredders are frequently used to pre-shred items like automobiles.
Four-shaft shredders use four cylinders to process materials. The arrangement of the blades allows a very high volume of material to be fed into the unit very quickly. A four-shaft cutting system can process nearly any material. Another advantage is that it is much easier to control the output size. Four-shaft cutting systems are used to process metal, tires and wood. The cutters are designed to be used with a screening system so that debris is continually reprocessed until the correct size has been reached. These are also used to destroy paper and medical waste. Recycling facilities often employ a four-shaft shredder for waste volume reduction.
A knife mill is an industrial unit that contains two flat spinning blades. The two blades spin very quickly in different directions and overlap slightly. Any material that is passed through the mill is immediately shredded into small particles. These units are used for paper, plastic and other types of light waste. A very efficient mill will be able to reduce certain types of plastics and paper into granules.
A hammer mill is a drum that contains a central cylinder studded with heavy bars or hammers. The cylinder rotates very quickly inside of the drum. Materials like wood or stone are fed into the drum and then shredded or broken apart by the impact of the hammers. Hammer mills are widely used as part of a multi-stage shredding process. They are also commonly used to deal with items like warehouse pallets.
Businesses must deal with the problem of disposing of sensitive documents every single day. Reports, customer inquiries and old printed files contain enough information to expose clients and the business to the possibility of identity theft or worse. Document disposal methods in the past largely involved shipping papers off to remote landfills where they were buried. Even this method is not completely secure and it is becoming less practical with environmental regulations. There are a few options available for businesses or for individuals who need to securely destroy papers that contain sensitive information.
A paper shredder is the simplest way to destroy documents in an office or home setting. Small shredders can be placed directly on top of a trash bin and then turned on. Papers are fed into the machine one sheet at a time. Each sheet is cut into thin strips that fall into the trash bin below. Shredding several documents creates a tangle of paper strips that can be thrown away. Standard paper shredders provide some protection although there are instances where someone was able to reconstruct documents from the thin strips that were thrown away. A newer cross-cut shredder adds a second blade so that each strip is cut a second time. This created small confetti-like waste that is far more difficult to reassemble into a readable document.
Offices that are in certain areas or businesses that deal in related fields sometimes use the process of hydropulping in order to completely destroy documents. This involves taking the paper waste from one location and then shipping it to facility that contains a water and chemical pulping station. The papers are dropped into the liquids where everything is slowly broken down into loose fibers. These fibers are agitated until they are small enough to be drained. Depending on the exact technology that is being used the pulp can then be recycled into new paper or disposed of by other means. This process does completely destroy the information on the documents. These plants do not exist in all areas.
One of the simplest ways to deal with the destruction of sensitive documents is to burn them until there is nothing left but unrecoverable ash. Trash incineration plants that are often part of the municipal infrastructure of a city can accept large loads of paper and then burn it efficiently. This can be a costly measure depending on the size of the business and the amount of paper that needs to be incinerated. Smaller incinerators exist inside of some older buildings although these are not really designed to handle the chemically treated papers that are in use today.
One of the more secure solutions for complete document destruction is to simply hire professionals. Shredding services normally follow a strict protocol that involves removing sealed bins from a business in the view of an employee and then loading that bin into a shredding truck. The papers in the bin fall through an industrial cross-cut shredder that blows the remaining paper into the back of the vehicle. This can all be seen on a video display so that employees of the company know the documents have been destroyed. Certain services go beyond this and then incinerate the scraps at the end of the day.
In this modern age of technology, when data can be sent from one point to another at the speed of light, it is essential to make sure that the data is protected. This is especially true in the case of deleting sensitive information or selling a used computer.
Many companies have begun taking steps to prevent data theft amidst increasing incidents of this crime. Even companies who boast tight data security are working around the clock to patch the previously unknown security holes that have resulted in data theft.
When faced with the necessity of data destruction, a lot of people wonder why they should need it and if they have files on their computer that could leave their personal security at risk. They may even think that as long as they’re not a business owner, they don’t have any reason to be concerned about destroying data. This is a dangerous assumption to make because it isn’t true. In addition, there are two other common data destruction myths that you should watch out for.
Many people believe that once they move something to the recycling bin and empty it, it’s gone for good. However, all it takes is a minimally-skilled person and the right software to recover that information. Many of these programs are even available for free online.
Format the Drive
No matter how many times you reformat a hard drive, you will not be able to erase everything on it. About one percent of the old data stays on the drive, waiting to be recovered by an unscrupulous person. While one percent doesn’t seem like a lot, for today’s large-capacity hard drives, this can be several gigabytes of potentially sensitive information!
What Happens When Files are Deleted?
When you move files to the recycling bin (Windows) or trash bin (Mac and Linux) and empty it, the files are not permanently deleted from the system. In fact, they’re not even really gone. All this function does is tell the operating system to ignore the files’ presence. It’s still perfectly intact on your hard drive!
The files’ index is removed to make room for any new files that you might create. The unwanted file is moved to a random empty space on the drive and can be overwritten by other data. While the unwanted file can be permanently deleted this way, there is no guarantee that it will actually be overwritten or that it will be overwritten enough times.
The Risks of Improper Data Destruction
It doesn’t take a lot of knowledge or skill for someone to recover sensitive data and use it for personal gain. Unless you properly destroy your unwanted data, it could be used to perpetrate a number of disturbing crimes including identity theft, burglary, armed robbery, child pornography and even murder. Furthermore, it’s very easy for someone to take this data and use it against you to get you into trouble for crimes you did not commit.
Fortunately, there are professional data destruction services that can be hired to make sure all your confidential information is completely removed and cannot be restored.