Payroll, client information, credit card numbers, trade secrets, and the latest details of next quarter’s classified product launch are the kinds of documents that almost every business wants to keep away from identity thieves and unscrupulous competitors. Whether you’re still dealing with paper copies of everything, you’ve gone digital, or you’re using some combination of the two, secure document disposal has to be an integral part of your file management system.
The extent to which you go to destroy obsolete-but-sensitive documents depends on the potential harm that could come from them falling into the wrong hands. For relatively nonsensitive papers, such as a list of employee names or handwritten notes on scratch paper, it’s probably enough to drop them into a shredding machine. For more sensitive stuff, such as credit card numbers, enlist a professional document shredding company to visit your office once a week or so. Their machines cross-cut documents, making them into unreadable confetti.
Electronic Data Deletion
Usable information has been recovered from data drives that have been magnetized, shredded, and burned. How far you go to destroy data depends on its sensitivity. Businesses and government agencies typically use three methods:
- Clearing data is the easiest and least sensitive method. Most operating systems let you delete the access point to your file by dragging the icon to a trash can (or recycle bin). This deletes desktop access, but it leaves the file on your hard drive, where a document recovery program could find it.
- Purging a drive involves some physical method of disrupting the stored data. Passing a magnet over a drive is the most common method. Data is probably beyond casual snoopers, but a determined effort could restore a damaged file.
- Many businesses contract with professional disposal companies to physically destroy machines holding sensitive information.
A security breach resulting from improper document destruction could cause serious harm to your business’s reputation. When you properly dispose of physical documents and electronic data, your clients can trust that you’ll handle their interactions with the right amount of protection.