3 Tips for Disposing of Documents Securely

Your company’s records are a critical resource and disposal requires the right investment to ensure your compliance with federal and state regulations as well as ensuring the security of your employee’s and client’s information. Poor record disposal can result in security breaches, loss of confidential information, and lost privacy. But disposal is no longer just about shredding. Failing to heed security related laws and regulations can result in costly consequences.  Here are three tips to help you make sure you’re doing your best to keep information secure.  

1. Start with the basics

Understanding the basics of document disposal starts with pulping, shredding, and burning. The first lesson is this. Throwing documents in the garbage or recycling bin exposes your company to significant security threats. Such documents need to be disposed of in a way that completely removes the risk of a third-party gaining access to sensitive information. The three most complete forms of document disposal include pulping, burning, and most commonly, shredding.  

Shredding is the most well-known of the paper disposal methods. Shredders are available to purchase in both personal and office capacities and are undoubtedly handy tools to have around the home and office. However, they are impractical for use with larger amounts of physical copies and records amassed by most companies.   

Incineration is the act of burning to completely destroy sensitive documents. This process can be extremely time consuming, requires access to an incinerator or other source of open flame, and is also illegal to perform in certain city or residential areas. That said, there is no chance of sensitive material making it into the wrong hands once this disposal method is complete.  

Pulping is a process which breaks down the fibers of the documents into a liquid slurry before reusing the remaining material in the creation of post-consumer recycled content products. Pulping can be done after shredding takes place to make all information completely irretrievable. All three processes can be time and resource intense. That’s why many companies choose to work with a records management specialist such as Happy Faces Records Management. We are here to support businesses with flexible and secure document disposal methods that meet your needs and take the pain out of document management.  

2. Don’t forget recycling

How do companies balance the need for security and their desire to become more environmentally sustainable? If you are not working with a professional document management service such as Happy Faces Records Management, your choices are limited. Shredded paper can be re-used as packing material, but that also exposes companies to significant risk. Commercial shredded paper may be accepted by recycling companies so long as it is completely free of plastic and metal and contained within clear plastic bags. However, this is not appropriate for highly confidential documents as sensitive information may still be reconstructed, which can result in privacy violations and possible legal action. Make sure you are working with a high-quality document management company who takes on the responsibility of recycling for you, and who can help you address the challenges of balancing security protocols with a desire to be sustainable even when working from home. 

3. Manage digital files

The proper destruction of hard copy documents is only effective if the digital files associated with those documents are also destroyed properly. Simply deleting the files is not enough. Until that space has been written over, the possibility of recovering data still exists. Similar to shredding important paper documents, one way to ensure that your personal information is not easily accessed is by “shredding” of the individual files on the hard drive. There are a variety of software programs which can shred files, but it can be confusing to know which one is right for you. 

For more guidance on how to best manage your data security, connect with the team at Happy Faces Records Management today. 

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