Shred It or Lose It (Your Job or Business)

There’s an old story about an office assistant on his first day at a new job.   His boss hands him a stack of pages.  “I’ve been working on these all weekend,” he says.  “Please take these to the copier and make a set of copies.  I don’t want anything to happen to them.”

The assistant goes to the copy room, and runs into a bank of new, unfamiliar machines.  He starts feeding page after page into the copier.    After an hour or so, the boss comes to see what the delay is.  “I’ve been putting the pages into the copier, but all I see are little strips of paper.  Where do the copies come out?”

Aleratec DVD/CD Disc, Credit Card and Paper Shredder DS18 Bin

The joke is that the ‘copier’ wasn’t really a copier – it was a paper shredder.  And the point of putting this story into this blog was to show how a shredder can make a document practically irretrievable.   On an episode of CSI, the techs were somehow able to recreate a document, piecing together the shredded strips of a document.

A crosscut page – essentially a strip cut into small rectangular pieces (in the same way that Aleratec’s paper and CD/DVD shredders handle paper) makes it nearly impossible to reassemble the shredded pages.  CSI – or anyone else – would probably just give up when faced with a mountain of confetti that may have once been important, sensitive documents.

For an organization that wants to be assured that all of its printed materials are unreadable, a cross-cut shredder is an important item to have, for destruction of any written materials that the organization absolutely does NOT want anyone to be able to recover and read.    Even for individuals, like myself, who probably should be shredding my incoming mail, bills, and other materials, such a device makes a lot of practical sense.

Aleratec DVD/CD Disc Shredder

The safety of crosscut is essential for paper, but not so for Optical Discs (CD, DVD, or Blu-Ray).  Such discs can be sliced into strips.  Even if the strips can be reassembled, the contents of the disc will be unreadable, because of the way such discs are created.   Each sector on the disc contains error correction code relating to the next sector – and also relating to data on that particular sector on the disc.  Slicing a disc into strips breaks the sectors up, and also removes critical data where the slice is made.  The little bits of reflective material that come off during shredding once contained the essential data needed to rebuild the data on the disc.  Once shredded, the data is, in effect, gone forever.

Aleratec offers a broad line of shredders – from a CD/DV

D/Blu-ray shredder that only performs the single purpose (shredding optical discs), to models that combine CD/DVD/Blu-ray and Credit Card shredders with crosscut paper shredders.  For the price of a less capable shredder at an office supply store, you should be able to find an Aleratec shredder that shreds both Optical media and paper.  The choice of which to buy – Aleratec’s or someone else’s should be a no brainer.

Additionally, for all but the single purpose Optical Disc shredder, the others are units that can be put at the side of a desk.  These units contain two baskets – one for the shred

ded media, and another, larger one for shredded paper.   Being able to segregate the two makes it easier to dispose of the two different types of shredded media.

Aleratec DVD/CD Disc, Credit Card and Paper Shredder DS2

I mentioned it briefly above – but credit cards can also be shredded by Aleratec’s desk side shredders.  Of course, it’s not only credit cards that can be shredded – cards in this size might be used as identification cards, membership cards, gift cards and for uses I can’t even list.   The magnetic strips on the back of these cards may contain a wealth of information that you don’t want to put into the wrong hands.  Shredding these cards just makes good sense.  What also makes good sense is mixing the shredded cards in with shredded optical discs – if someone is intent on stealing your information, making it that much harder to even retrieve sliced card from sliced disc.

I won’t go very far into the sensitive types of data that can be put onto a CD, DVD or Blu-ray disc.  Each organization probably has its own rules about what CAN and what CAN’T be put onto an optical disc.  It probably has procedures for handling its most sensitive discs – payroll, employee records, contract proposals, etc., etc., that might be stored on optical media.  For an IT manager, or corporate security manager to imagine that sensitive information on an optical disc is just being tossed into the trash would probably raise serious concerns and may even cause serious gastric upset.  Even discs that have encryption (which could, potentially be overcome by a really determined spy), the idea of tossing intact media in the trash is truly scary.

The solution, of course, is to implement a policy that requires shredding of any disc that is to be discarded.  WITHOUT EXCEPTION.  Being able to do this with the low cost shredders from Aleratec should make it easy to implement this rule.   And, being low cost, putting an office shredder beside every desk or at a central location in every department would qualify as affordable protection against potential security breaches.

In a small business, with the cost of implementation of a paper and optical disc shredding policy being so low (using an Aleratec shredder), there should be little reason why such inexpensive protection isn’t implemented.   In a larger business, it would make sense to have a shredder at every desk, if not somewhere in each department.

I know that, for my own mountains of paper and lots of obsolete programs, being able to shred the paper into tiny, easily disposable crosscut pieces, and the optical discs into neat little strips, should make the process of clearing out and remodeling my office much more efficient – and tremendously more secure.

Mark Brownstein is a technology journalist and technology consultant who specializes in explaining and interpreting new technologies, and clarifying how to integrate these new products into current systems. He has been Editor-In-Chief at computer technology and networking publications, has held significant editorial positions at major technology magazines, and is a frequent contributor to various technology magazines. He has written seven books. He is Microsoft Certified, and spends much of his time testing hardware and software products, running his own networks, and learning the best ways to get computer systems running and to keep them running.

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