Recycling paper and other office trash is environmentally responsible. Recycling
office data is legally, ethically, and politically irresponsible. So, what to
do with the reams of paper and the discarded electronics that accumulate in every
office? Shred, baby, shred. Then recycle.
Why You Need a Document Destruction Policy
All businesses have documents with sensitive data, from employee records to
credit card transactions to sales, marketing and product plans. Besides complying
with federal and state laws mandating protection of confidential information
such as Social Security numbers, background checks, health records, and credit
card information, it only makes sense to protect all information assets.
A policy dictating how to protect information, including when and how to destroy
materials, is more than just a good idea, it can protect companies against
litigation, embarrassment, or loss of competitive advantage. Randomly destroying
documents is a double edged sword. As long as records that are preserved they
can be used in legal proceedings, but destroying them can be construed as obstruction
of justice. By having and adhering to an information destruction policy, companies
can demonstrate that they are acting in good faith. And, a policy helps keep
companies information assets well organized.
Even small companies and individuals can benefit by conscientiously destroying
credit card offers and receipts to prevent identity theft.
Management Means Getting Rid of the Old Stuff
management companies offer secure shredding services that help
businesses to discard responsibly old paper and electronic records with one-time
clean up. Many secure shredding services offer both on-the-customer-site
disposal and disposal at the service provider facilities.
With an information destruction policy in place, once the backlog of old materials
is destroyed, newly-created trash can be disposed of on a schedule that will
keep the work environment clean and the company protected from data risk.
Paper Document Shredding
Companies that casually dispose of their paper and electronic waste are responsible
if those materials with protected information are discovered or are used
by others. Regardless of whether a company does its own document
management or outsources to a document
management company, old paper records should
be shredded before being recycled.
Hard Drive Document Shredding
Today, documents in most offices are created and stored electronically on laptop
and desktop computers backed up on networked servers. When disposing of computers,
servers and even mobile phones, it is not enough just to erase the files.
Even after formatting, data on hard drives can be restored with off-the-shelf
software. When retiring electronic assets, the safe thing to do is have memory
Beyond Document Shredding
Even shredding hard drives into pieces as small as one inch by one inch does
not remove all the bits and bytes; they still reside on the shredded media.
For ultra-sensitive data, memory components should be degaussed before being
donated or shredded.
management companies will provide secure shredding and post-shredding
recycling of paper and electronics, and they can issue certificates of destruction.
Note that certificates of destruction do not obviate responsibility for safety
of data, but obtaining them does show adherence to best practices.
National Association of Information Destruction