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What to shred – A guide for businesses

Updated on 14 December 2023

When most people think about data privacy, they think about protecting their personal information like social security numbers and credit card numbers. However, businesses have a lot of sensitive information that needs to be protected as well.

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In fact, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center, business owners are 2-5 times more likely to become victims of identity theft than consumers. That’s why it’s so important for businesses to know what documents to shred.

In this guide, we will discuss what documents should be shredded and where you can go to get them shredded safely and securely.

Pipedrive logo The CRM platform to grow your business
  • Great for entrepreneurs
  • Powerful data analytics
  • Manage sales and data
Rippling logo Manage all your employee data
  • Run in 90 seconds
  • 100% error-free
  • Automatic tx filing
Wix logo Powerful web builder and advanced business tools
  • Great for startups
  • Powerful web page builder
  • E-commerce available
Planable logo Supercharged content planning
  • Great for marketing
  • Better than lists or sheets
  • Manage social media
Webador logo Create a new website in 10 minutes. Easy.
  • Launch your website fast
  • Powerful data intuitive
  • No coding skills needed

Why shred documents?

Shredding documents is one of the best ways to protect your confidential data. When you shred documents, you make it much harder for identity thieves to get their hands on your information. Identity thieves can often piece together shredded documents if they have enough time and patience. ]

However, if the document is shredded into tiny pieces, it will be much more difficult for them to put it back together.

Shred to stay compliant

In addition to protecting your sensitive information, shredding documents can also help you stay compliant with certain laws and regulations.

For example, UK GDPR states that businesses must destroy all personal data when it is no longer needed. If you don’t shred your documents, you could face some serious penalties. There are a number of other regulations that you need to be aware of including:

  • California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA)
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)

What documents to shred?

Most people know that they should shred documents with personal information like their social security number or credit card number. But what about other documents? Here is a list of some of the other types of documents that should be shredded:

  • Employee records: These may contain private information like social security numbers, medical history, and financial information.
  • Customer records: Customer files will contain sensitive information like credit card numbers, addresses, and phone numbers.
  • Vendor records: These contain confidential information like bank account numbers and contact information.
  • Sales and marketing: Sales and marketing materials contain private information like customer lists and contact information.
  • Financial records: Financial records contain sensitive information like social security numbers, credit card numbers, and bank account numbers.
  • Product department: Product department files may contain confidential information about your company’s products and services.
  • Intellectual property: If you have any confidential or proprietary information, it should be shredded when it is no longer needed.
  • Legal documents: legal documents may contain sensitive information about your company and clients.

Different media that needs to be destroyed

Here is a list of different types of media that hold data that need to be destroyed:

  1. CDs and DVDs
  2. USB flash drives
  3. Hard drives
  4. Mobile phones

CDs and DVDs

Shredding CDs and DVDs is a great way to protect your data. When you shred a CD or DVD, you make it practically impossible for someone to access the data on it. Even if they have the right tools, they won’t be able to get anything off of a shredded CD or DVD.

To shred a CD or DVD, you will need a paper shredder that is designed for CDs and DVDs. You can find these at most office supply stores. Just insert the CD or DVD into the shredder and let it do its job.

USB flash drives

USB flash drives are another type of media that needs to be destroyed when they are no longer needed. USB flash drives can be a target for hackers because they can store a lot of sensitive information. There are a few different ways to destroy a USB flash drive. You can either shred it, incinerate it, or smash it.

You can’t use your average paper shredder as it is not powerful enough. Instead you will have to invest in an industrial shredder which won’t come cheap. If you don’t have access to an industrial shredder it might be an idea to use a professional shredding service.

You can also incinerate a USB flash drive. This is a good option if you don’t have a paper shredder or if you want to make sure that the data on the USB flash drive is completely destroyed. To incinerate a USB flash drive, you will need a furnace or a blow torch. Just heat the USB flash drive until it is completely melted. Be aware that USBs contain harmful materials and proper precautions must be taken.

You can also smash a USB flash drive, this is the most low tech and easiest option. Just take a hammer to it and hit it repeatedly until it has been broken into small pieces.

Hard drives

Hard drives are another type of media that needs to be destroyed when they have reached the end of their useful life. Hard drives contain a lot of confidential information so it is important to get rid of this data. When you destroy a hard drive, you make it impossible for someone to access the data on it.

To shred a hard drive, you will need an industrial shredder that is designed specifically for the job. You can’t find these at any stores, you’ll have to buy one from a specific retailer and this is expensive. It

You can incinerate a hard drive, this may seem as simple as using a furnace or blow torch to burn it, but it can be dangerous. The fumes that come off it may be toxic and harmful to the environment, so it is important to be aware that this method can be dangerous.

You can also puncture a hard drive using a drill to damage the platters. To puncture a hard drive, you will need a drill and make holes through the platters, making sure it is completely destroyed. Again it is important to be aware that hard drives contain hazardous materials and you will need to make sure you are protecting yourself and the environment from them.

Mobile phones

Mobile phones are another type of media that contain data that needs to be destroyed when they are no longer needed. Mobile phones can store a lot of sensitive information and it is important when the time comes to get rid of it that you wipe the data from the phone. Fortunately there are in-built tools for this on Android and iPhones, so there is no need to physically shred or destroy the phones.

Where to shred?

Now that you know what needs to be shredded, you may be wondering where to go to get it done. There are a few options:

You can shred the documents yourself using a personal shredder. A micro-cut shredder will shred documents to a much smaller size than a cross-cut shredder, making it more difficult for identity thieves to put the pieces back together.

You can take the documents to a professional shredding company. Be sure to choose a reputable company that is certified by the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID). They may offer an on-site shredding service. This is a great option for businesses that have large quantities of documents to shred. The shredding company will come to your office and shred the documents on-site with their mobile shredding truck.

They will also be able to shred hard drives and other devices. Once a device is shredded they are able to recycle the different elements of it, thereby reducing the amount of e-waste being produced.

These companies often offer services which are able to wipe data from your hard drives and USB flash drives. This is a good way of disposing of the data from your devices as it allows them to be recycled and prevents from ending up in landfill.

Companies will also provide you with a certificate of destruction which proves that your data has been destroyed by the company, passing on liability to them should there be any problems in the future.

Conclusion

Shredding documents is a great way to protect your sensitive information from identity thieves. It can also help you stay compliant with certain laws and regulations. When deciding what to shred, be sure to include employee records, customer records, vendor records, financial records, intellectual property, and CDs and DVDs. If you have a large amount of documents to shred, consider using a professional shredding company or an online shredding service.

FAQs

What is the best way to shred documents?

The best way to shred documents is to use a professional shredding company or an online shredding service.

Can I shred documents myself?

Yes, you can shred documents yourself using a personal shredder. However, it is generally more convenient and less expensive to use a professional shredding company.

What are the consequences of not shredding documents?

If you don’t shred documents containing sensitive information, identity thieves may be able to access your data. This could lead to fraud or identity theft. You may also be subject to fines if you don’t shred documents in accordance with laws and regulations.

Why is it important to shred CDs and DVDs?

CDs and DVDs can contain sensitive information. If you don’t shred them, identity thieves may be able to access your data. Shredding CDs and DVDs is also a good way to prevent them from ending up in landfill sites.

How often should I shred documents?

It depends on the type of document and how many documents you have. For example, you may need to shred financial records every year, but you may only need to shred employee records every few years. Check with your accountant or lawyer to find out what documents you need to keep and for how long.

What different types of media need to be destroyed?

In addition to paper documents, you may need to destroy CDs, DVDs, hard drives, and other types of media. This will depend on the type of information they contain. For example, you may need to shred a CD if it contains confidential information. However, you may be able to recycle a CD if it only contains non-sensitive data.

What is the best way to destroy a hard drive?

The best way to destroy a hard drive is to use a professional shredding company. Hard drives can be difficult to destroy on your own, and if they are not destroyed properly, identity thieves may be able to access your data.

Can I put documents in the recycling bin?

No, you should not put documents in the recycling bin. Documents containing sensitive information could be accessed by identity thieves. You should shred all documents before throwing them away.

Reviewed by , Managing Director

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