With identity theft on the rise and data storage methods allowing for increasingly larger amounts of information to be located on one source, shredding is a necessary activity in today’s workplace. No longer is paper the only security risk; now, threats can come from CDs, DVDs, ID badges, flash (or thumb) drives, hard drives and other storage devices.
With CDs capable of holding more than 250,000 pages of information and DVDs containing 26 times the data of the average CD, no one can simply break optical media into pieces and assume that the data cannot be retrieved. Grinding technology totally removes the data layer and coding sequences from all types of CDs, reducing the information to powder, while shredders with specially hardened, solid steel cutting cylinders can reduce a CD or DVD to pieces only 2.2 mm x 4.0 mm in size, again, destroying the coding sequences.
These same shredders can also eliminate the microchip information frequently embedded in security or ID badges so that sensitive data does not fall into the wrong hands. With destruction rates of up to 600 disks an hour, these types of units can meet the average office, agency or installation’s needs. If higher levels of destruction are required, there are data disintegrators, approved for mixed media, designed to destroy thousands of pounds per hour. Disintegrators, with higher horsepower options, tough construction and special high chrome/high carbon steel knives, are the optimum choice for destroying non-paper media. In addition to CDs, DVDs, and other optical media devices, disintegrators easily destroy transparencies, microfilm, cassette tapes, blueprints, stamps, key tape, currency, Mylar, burn bags and many other forms of possible security risk.
HARD TO ERASE HARD DRIVESHard drives pose a special challenge in that the very composition makes them hard to destroy. With data laid down in sectors, and each sector holding a quarter page of information, even large disintegrators cannot reduce the residue to a small enough size to destroy every sector on a drive.
The National Security Agency (NSA) requires all classified magnetic media to be erased with an approved degausser prior to any physical destruction. Degaussers are available in many forms, from a small hand-held degaussing “wand” to a file cabinet-sized “cavity” degausser. The powerful magnets in these systems provide a reverse magnetic field that completely removes all data traces from any magnetic surface.
PCB (printed circuit board) technology, the kind found in thumb and flash drives, provides less of a destruction problem since the shearing action of a disintegrator’s hardened steel, rotary knife system eliminates the circuitry that allows for the retrieval of any stored data.
DATA PROTECTION ALWAYS NEEDEDThere will always be a need to secure, i.e. destroy, sensitive data on paper. The options for paper shredding are numerous, ranging from personal desk side shredders that handle five to 15 sheets per pass, to industrial models with conveyor belts, hoppers and balers that can take 500 sheets at a time. There are also systems designed for the unique challenges posed by medical waste, including the destruction of pill bottles.
About the Source
Security Magazine thanks Whitaker Brothers of Rockville, MD, for the information it provided. The firm sells and services a diversity of data destruction equipment to the federal government, DoD contractors and commericial organizations.