Many of today’s print and computing devices have built-in security. But that security (for the most part) becomes ineffective when the device has reached its end-of-life and is ready to be discarded. Something similar occurs when you dispose of printed documents.
Data Contained in Devices
In regard to devices, before throwing them away think of whether they might still contain information you don’t want leaking out into the world. Printers and MFPs (multifunction printers), especially those that were made not too long ago, may have built-in storage capabilities. These can range from simple job logs to entire documents held in the device’s onboard memory.
In addition to confidential and/or personal data, a printer or MFP could contain secure network login information that could be used to breach your network. Hard disks can be wiped by various commercial programs, but the surest way to prevent someone from accessing one is to physically drill holes in the drive platters or memory chips (for solid-state drives).
Many cities and towns offer electronics recycling. These services may or may not involve a secure place for disposing of used devices. If you are considering this path, ask to speak to the manager of the program. Question him or her on the methods that are employed to reduce the possibility of someone accessing on-board memory; if you’re not satisfied with the response, it’s time to look elsewhere.
Another resource for the safe disposal of sensitive electronics is your company’s office products dealer. Most dealers and resellers can assure secure disposal of equipment like printers, MFPs, PCs, smartphones, and tablets. Reputable dealers and resellers often recycle parts of devices for their accounts, so it’s a good bet that they will be able to accommodate your needs.
Paper Comprises Data, Too
Electronic devices aren’t the only place sensitive data can reside. Too many of us (including home-based workers) just toss the paper into the trash or recycle bin without giving much thought to what is actually printed on it. And there really is no telling where that paper will wind up or who will see it.
Shredding is the best approach to rendering paper output unreadable. Depending on the volume of the printed material you generate, it may make sense to save up the paper in a bin. Once there’s enough paper in the bin, you can have it shredded.
In some cases, one’s municipality may perform a shredding service periodically. There are also a large number of businesses that will come to your home (or wherever you are working), pick up your recyclable paper, and shred it for you. When you’re dealing with a reputable service, you can feel comfortable knowing they are using commercial shredders that grind the paper into extremely small pieces.
If you don’t have the volume of documents to require the use of a shredding service, it’s easy enough to shred them yourself. Shredders are fairly inexpensive, but there are several features you should look for. One is that the shredder can handle the volume of documents you might want to shred in a single session. It may be wise to buy more capability than you need initially, as the price of a shredder that can handle 10 or 15 pages (at a time) is not much greater than one that can process five pages.
A second important feature is the ability to handle staples, which not all shredders can do. Should your shredder not have this feature, you may regret it down the line.
You also want to make sure the shredder is a cross-cut model. These chop the document into little square pieces instead of long noodle-like pieces. While in the movies and on TV it looks pretty easy to reconstruct documents that have just been cut down the length of the paper, it’s almost impossible to reconstruct a piece of paper that’s been cross-cut both vertically and horizontally. Similar to electronics waste disposal services, your office products dealer is a great resource for shredding services or technology. They will work with you to ensure your confidential and sensitive information is adequately protected.