Sunday, February 19, 2012

Eliminating A Physical Paper Trail

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The printed documents and correspondence which your organization generates and then chooses to dispose of can be a fabulous source of intelligence for your competitors, for overly-zealous government agencies, perpetrators of identity theft and other dumpster-diving spelunkers.

When you dispose of any printed or written internal company materials, here is the suggested means of doing so properly.

1) Always use an industrial-grade cross-cutting paper shredder, to produce the smallest possible pieces. Do not ever skimp on quality paper shredding equipment -- and do not ever hire a service to remove documents and shred them for you, or to remove the shredded material from your offices or large dumpsters in bags -- you must do this yourself;

2) Once papers are thoroughly shredded, be certain (like an experienced bartender mixing a cocktail), to thoroughly shake the shredded material in the shredder's receptacle container in order to further distribute it and randomize it;

3) The well-mixed contents of the shredder container should be poured in roughly equal parts into five or more separate rubberized or hard plastic industrial trash bins, You may follow this same procedure with several shredder receptacles filled with scrambled scraps [this does sound a bit like a pet food, doesn't it?].

4) Prepare a solution (take all safety precautions, including wearing rubber gloves, goggles, and being certain that there is plenty of ventilation) comprised of one part 3% hydrogen peroxide solution, one part aqueous ammonia [the type used for household cleaning] and eight parts water. Don't inhale it (it smells rather horrible), touch or taste it. Simply pour a bit of this wonderful solution randomly over the load of shreds in each trash bin -- the idea is just to have it moisten some of the shreds -- you do not need to drench the shreds in this solution to have it eradicate or obscure a great deal of the print (laser printer and other types) on many random shreds. A less-effective but easier alternative to this approach is to take any form of inexpensive hairspray and thoroughly drench the top of each pile of shreds. Allow some time for the liquid to pour down and penetrate the pile.

5) Dispose of your garbage with a smile. Be certain to dispose of it legally, in the most environmentally-friendly way. Be a good corporate citizen!

HINT: It is generally most effective to conduct this type of routine shredding one every week or two (depending upon your production of shred-worthy printed waste in order to make a better-obscured blend of mixed shreddings.

While this sounds like a bit of an effort, it has become a standard function of any information-sensitive business and should be taken seriously. You would be amazed at the lengths that some resourceful parties will go through in order to reconstruct a shredded document, piece by piece. The object of the above five-step protocol is to make this reassembly impossibly difficult.

Douglas E. Castle for InfoSphere Business Alerts And Intel


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