The potential for fraud and other criminal activity arising from office paperwork falling into the wrong hands is hard to exaggerate. Paper left on the printer or on untidy desks can be easily removed by unauthorised personnel, for example. Similarly, names and addresses on letter heads found discarded in waste paper bins increases the risk of identity theft.
Choosing the right paper shredder is vital to protect your business, your customers and your reputation, in terms of both your own peace of mind and for compliance with data regulations such as the Personal Data Protection Act 2012 (PDPA) and EU GDPR. Choosing the right paper shredder, however, isn’t always as obvious as it seems.
Paper shredders: How do they work and why is paper shredding important?
There are two key types of paper shredders to consider: strip-cut paper shredders and cross-cut paper shredders. Strip-cut paper shredding is the simplest type: documents are fed through a series of blades which slice it into strips the length of the page. Cross-cut paper shredders are slightly more complex and slower to operate, as they make regular horizontal cuts as well as vertical ones. The result is smaller pieces of paper that are harder to reassemble than strip-cut pages.
Historically, a strip-cut paper shredder may have provided enough security against document reassembly, the process of taking pieces of shredder paper and realignign them into their original form, as one team has successfully done, piecing together one and a half million documents of bags that have been through paper shredders, almost entirely by hand.
Cross-cut paper shredders make this process much harder, and the smaller pieces that they produce the higher the level of security that they provide. Even so, there are big differences in the levels of security provided by cross-cut paper shredders.
Thanks to the increased power of modern computer and high-resolution cameras, however, software which can recreate documents from hundreds of small pieces is now inexpensive and readily available. In 2011, the US research agency DARPA issued a USD $50,000 reward for the first team that could recreate five sheets of paper from 10,000 pieces. The winning team took 600 worker hours to complete the challenge, three days ahead of the closing date.
When to outsource paper shredding?
Using a paper shredder to destroy large quantities of paperwork, such as after an office purge, is a demanding task. This will require not only sufficient time resource by someone responsible for shredding documents in a timely manner, but also the use of robust paper shredding equipment. Off-the-shelf paper shredders sold for small office supply shop are often not sufficient for large tasks. Jams, blunt blades and broken parts can result in paper not being shredded properly before it is disposed of.
Industrial paper shredders are designed to handle large volumes without needing to stop or require regular parts replacement. However, these are often too costly or bulky for offices to purchase when there’s no specialised or continual need.
An outsourced paper shredding service, meanwhile, is a sensible middle ground for companies requiring one-off collections for a large volume of paper – such as destroying archived material - or a regular service to help reduce the effort of office maintenance. Shredding can take place on-site with mobile equipment, or off-site at larger facilities. These services can assist both with compliance and customer confidentiality.
What happens to paper before and after it is shredded?
Shred-it’s paper shredding services are secure from start to finish. Paper ready to be shredded is stored in lockable secure bins or containers until it is ready to be collected. Documents can be shredded onsite, at office premises, or offsite at a secure shredding centre. Either way, our service guarantees that all data will be destroyed to an unrecoverable state.
A paper shredding service from Shred-it also means confidential data will be collected and scanned by our uniformed and security-checked staff. Should it need to be taken off-site for processing, will then be transported in satellite-tracked vehicles to one of our secure facilities for shredding. This ensures a high level of security while the data is in transit. The entire process, off-site or on-site, is logged and, on completion, customers are issued with a certificate of destruction guaranteeing that the items have been securely destroyed.
Once it has been through the paper shredding process, paper will be recycled without risk to the original owner. Shred-it works with local partners to ensure shredded paper is returned swiftly back into the supply chain and recycled in line with our sustainability policy.