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Data Shredding - What Happens To All That Paperwork?

Data shredding is the process of permanently destroying files to make its contents unrecoverable. Shredding mostly applies to paper and other destructible data storage items. Electronic data can be destroyed by wiping or erasing (and not simply deleting), and it can involve destruction of electronic devices or encryption of data therein.

How Does Shredding Work To Secure Your Data?

Shredding is ripping a paper containing sensitive information to pieces so tiny that they cannot be reconstructed. It is time consuming, but when done well, it is one of the most effective methods of destroying documents with sensitive information. This destruction is achieved by passing the papers through a shredding machine several times until the required size of waste is produced. You may need a professional such as Shred First to get this done.

After shredding, the waste paper is then taken through further information destructive methods such as burning, or it is bundled up to taken to a recycling plant. Here are a few tips for secure destruction of the confidential documents.

• Low Security

This grade is recommended for documents that are not too sensitive, or those that are bound to go through a second means of destruction such as burning. This involves passing the paper once through the machine. When left as such, the paper can easily be put back together and one can still access the information therein.

• Medium Security

This is the grade that is used in most small companies. The process involves passing the paper through the shredder up to 5 times. With each pass, the waste paper becomes smaller and more difficult to recover the data therein. 

• High Security

This is the grade that is recommended for highly sensitive information. While it is supper slow, the security of the data is a sure overkill. The process involves passing the paper through the shredder for about 9 times. The resulting mash of paper is every dumpster diver’s worst nightmare. 

What Happens To the Heaps of Shredded Paper?

There are a few things that can be done to the shredded waste of documents. The paper can be burned or recycled depending on the company’s preferences. Most companies such as PHS include these services in their quote.

• Burning

Burning is one of the safest ways of destroying sensitive documents. Shredding is usually done beforehand to make the burning processes easier and faster. Burning is also an effective way of destroying electronic data in hard and floppy discs too. 

• Recycling

Sometimes the company can choose to have the paper waste recycled. This is one of the smartest options. The shredded paper is first destroyed by a solvent such as acid, or soaked in water then bundled up and taken to a paper recycling plant. This can be done onsite (if the company’s facilities allow it) or offsite to a secure place with the company’s officials overseeing the process. You can check out UK IT Recycling for more information on recycling services.

How to Destroy Sensitive Electronic Data

If you constantly work with digital data, you probably already know that simply hitting the delete button does not safeguard your information from malicious hackers. The truth is that the data is still stored in the computer long after you hit the delete button. So what can you do to destroy digital data?

• File Override

Once a file has been deleted, you can overwrite information several times on the disc. This is like erasing all content then filling up the space with a bunch of words that don’t even make sense. This has to be done several times until the original data cannot be successfully recovered. 

It is important to note that the override doesn’t work on SSD. This is because traditional magnetic discs store data as electrical charges in tin cells on the flash memory. It wears our pretty fast compared to magnetic storage, and after a few uses, the memory becomes obsolete.

• Data Encryption

This is an effective way of destroying electronic data. The data is first taken through layers or encryption, and the resulting data saved. The disc is then erased, and the encrypted data then replace the deleted data. This requires thorough expertise, and it is time consuming. However, when it is done right, it can be quite effective.

• Burning

Just as sensitive paper documents can be destroyed through burning, so can electronic data. The discs can be destroyed through burning. This should be a last result, after trying out overwriting as it is time consuming and bad for the environment.

Parting Shot

When you need our sensitive data destroyed, you need to contract the services of professionals such as Shred It. It is dangerous to leave your sensitive data in the hands of a couple of people who can leak out your secrets. Therefore, when contracting a shredding company, pay attention to their reputation as much as you are thinking of their credentials and waste management certifications. 

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Richard C. Sheppard
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