September 29, 2014

Why You Should Outsource Shredding Services

There’s no question that to reduce the risk of a data breach and to comply with data protection laws, organisations must destroy sensitive information when it is no longer needed.  Shredding confidential waste paper is one of the Information Commissioner’s Office recommended measures for securing personal data.

But should organisations outsource shredding services or use an in-house shredding machine?

The first conclusion most - particularly smaller - businesses come to, is to do it themselves.  On the face of it there are no down-sides.  It appears to be a cheap, easy and effective solution to the problem.  But it’s often not long before the unforeseen costs including  money, time and security, become all too apparent.

Here are 8 reasons experts recommend outsourcing document shredding to avoid the headache-inducing pitfalls of shredding in-house.

1. Security: Realistically, most staff can’t be bothered to venture over to the shredder lurking in the corner in the office, feed the cantankerous machine one page at a time, breathe in paper dust and fix frequent paper jams.  So what happens to confidential paper?  Casually tossed in the handy desk-side waste or recycling bin?  In contrast, a professional shredding company provides a secure chain of custody from easy-to-use locked consoles for document storage to secure removal of documents by a trained security professional.

2. Guaranteed Destruction: Many in-house shredding machines cut documents into vertical strips which can be easily reassembled using widely-available technology, increasing the risk of a data breach.  Reputable shredding companies use industrial multi-edge cross-cut shredders, which turn documents into uneven, confetti-like pieces that can’t be put back together again – and most offer a variety of shredding options

3. Audit Trail: A Certificate of Destruction is essential if a business is asked to provide evidence that their confidential information was securely destroyed.   Using an in-house shredder, what proof of destruction would you have if audited?

4. Convenience: With a professional shredding service, all employees have to do is drop their documents into locked storage bins. In addition, introducing a Shred-All Policy means employees don’t have to decide what is or isn't confidential as all unwanted documents are simply dropped into the locked bins, destroyed and recycled. On the flipside, in-house shredding is often not regularly scheduled nor carefully managed, and office shredders can be noisy, messy, and time-consuming.  The resulting shredded waste paper then has to be disposed of – either through a recycler (although many will not accept shredded paper) or in the general waste, which is then landfilled.

5. Cost: Compared to the cost of outsourcing secure shredding services, an office shredding machine can be an unexpected financial drain, with ongoing maintenance, repair and replacement costs.  Employees also have to take time from their ‘proper’ work to shred documents, plus there’s an increased risk of a costly data breach, including fines of up to £500,000 from the ICO.  

6. Time: A shredding service uses industrial grade shredders that can handle large quantities quickly. In contrast, an office shredder represents a tedious, time-consuming job, which might result in employees not prioritising shredding and increasing the risk of a breach.      

7. Strength: An industrial shredder can handle just about anything including staples, binders and paperclips; as well as CD/DVDs, tapes and microfiche.  On the flipside, with an office shredder, employees will often have to painstakingly remove staples and bindings (a recipe for minor injuries and broken nails!) and separate documents into individual sheets of paper – or risk damaging the machine.  

8. Hard Drives: Physical destruction is the only 100% secure way to permanently destroy confidential data on hard drives, but clearly the humble office shredder will not be up to this task. Most professional shredding companies provide hard drive destruction and disposal services.

If your office shredder has caused one too many headaches, discover the story of how one frustrated DIY shredder solved their confidential waste problem, plus learn why outsourcing shredding services is more secure and efficient.