For years, companies have been routinely shredding physical documents to ensure that confidential and sensitive information doesn’t fall into the hands of competitors. This practice is partly due how easy dumpster diving can be.
Companies believed they were doing their due diligence when they created policies that stated, for example, “any paper containing personal information such as, but not limited to, name, Social Security number, address, phone number, and/or other personal medical or financial information, prior to disposal, must be shredded to protect the privacy of the persons involved.”
They had a policy. They had a shredder. Problem solved. But not for long. New technologies are making it increasingly easy to reconstruct virtually any document, and if you are worried about the security of sensitive material, you should know a little bit about document shredding and document reconstruction.
Shredders themselves come in two basic varieties, strip-cut and crosscut. A strip-cut shredder cuts the paper into strips ranging from a quarter-inch to a half-inch wide. Strip-cut machines are more popular because they are usually less expensive, tend to be pretty durable and generally shred faster than crosscut models.
Rather than cutting paper into strips, crosscut shredders reduce it to smaller particles-resembling rectangular confetti and measuring approximately one-quarter inch by 1.5 inches-and provide much more security than strip-cut machines. Putting the document back together would essentially be the same as reassembling a giant jigsaw puzzle whose pieces have little color.
In addition, because of the smaller cuts, bags of crosscut shredded material occupy less space than those containing strip-cut remnants. With crosscut shredders, documents are cut in two directions, producing very small particles. Because the particles are so small, they are self-compacting, reducing overall bulk.
Shredding reconstruction basically works this way: Once technicians receive document shreds from a client, they determine whether the original document can be salvaged. Then they feed the strips into a scanner. The scanner reads each strip, which is given a unique identification number so that it can be matched to a page. At that point, the software takes over and performs reconstruction.
But thieves are coming up with their own ways to reconstruct shredded documents. The best way to beat them is with a cross cut shredder or a secure shredding vehicle. Secure shredding vehicles come to your facility or your home, take your locked shredding bins and dump them directly into a shredder. No human hands touch your materials and everything is contained in a secured truck, mixed with other materials so that nothing can be reconstructed. It’s the safest way!