5 Secure Shredding Best Practices

Tori McClurg

Shredded documents aren’t necessarily secure. Ask yourself: What happens to your enterprise’s documents after they’re shredded? Believe it or not, establishing secure shredding best practices and policies can make a huge difference in your organization’s overall security. And having these clear protocols in place can also benefit the environment in a major way. As April 22 is Earth Day, it’s an ideal time to take action.

Today, enterprises of all sizes should establish an effective shredding strategy to protect themselves from a security breach or other catastrophe.

Here are five secure shredding best practices your organization should follow:

1. Establish a clear policy. Enterprises need to take steps to implement a policy that’s supported by their overall records management program. Secure shredding best practices will be more effective with enterprise-wide implementation, regular education and ongoing accountability. Employees may not realize the importance of secure shredding yet, but with consistent training, you can educate them and protect your organization. Failure to document and train employees on policies could lead to dangerous behaviors or leave gaps in information that put your enterprise at risk.

2. Index effectively. Shredding documents is more than sliding sheets of paper through a shredder. An important aspect of secure shredding involves having an effective index system that specifies the information each file contains. This type of program should track filing, manage the document lifecycle and show whether documents need to remain active, be shredded or be archived.

3. Make secure storage a priority. What happens to your documents after they’re shredded? For security purposes, organizations need to be concerned about where their documents end up. Sensitive information needs to be protected at all points of its lifecycle. Whether this data is in a paper, electronic, audio or video format, it should be kept in locked cabinets or a locked room. And access to sensitive files should be limited based on need.

4. Create a retention and destruction schedule. Documents need to have clear labels that specify the information they contain and how long they need to be retained. Once it’s clear that certain files are no longer needed, they should be securely shredded and destroyed. But keep in mind that shredding documents internally can put your organization at risk for breaches. Consider partnering with an experienced shredding company to help your organization establish a more comprehensive shredding schedule.

5. Take a greener approach to compliance and security. Not only can a trusted partner help your organization establish the necessary chain-of-command and protect your files, it can also help your organization be more environmentally friendly. Make sure your secure shredding best practices involve depositing sensitive documents into locked bins and delivering the bins in a secure vehicle to a shredding facility. At the facility, the paper should be shredded to a point where it’d be impossible to reconstruct. After, it should go to a pulping mill for recycling. By following these best practices, your organization can remain compliant and secure — without sacrificing sustainability.

Paper records aren’t going anywhere, so it’s important to establish secure shredding best practices. Creating a compliant, verifiable and environmentally friendly process for shredding your documents will save your organization time, money and risk.

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