A high security shredder is an important and necessary addition to any business or home office. Since the first patented model, paper shredders have evolved drastically and are now integral pieces of office equipment. Government regulations and common privacy concerns have fueled the demand for high security shredders, and companies are utilizing them in every way possible. Paper shredders are available in a wide variety of shapes, styles, capabilities, and pricing. When purchasing one for home or business use, it is essential to understand the basics and purchase a piece of equipment that appropriately fits the needs.
The first patented idea for a paper shredder was presented in 1909. Although the "waste paper receptacle" was never produced, it set forth the motions for the current models. In 1935, a German anti-Nazi propagandist created a hand-cranked model paper shredder, based on the design of a pasta maker. He used this to dispose of anti-Nazi documentation and keep authoritative inquiries at bay. His shredder was later marketed to government groups and financial institutions. Over time, he converted his hand-crank model into an electric model, and sales escalated. In 1979, a strip paper cutter was employed by the US embassy in Iran, but the shredding was not completely successful. Colonel Oliver North then told Congress he used a particular cross-cut shredder and sales for that particular brand escalated exponentially.
Typical paper shredders are usually small electrically powered pieces of equipment. Though, there are special shredders such as hand-cranked shredders, shredder trucks, and even multiple blade shredder scissors. The typical machine shredders are classified according to size and capabilities. Strip-cut shredders are the least secure of all shredders and generate long narrow strips of paper. Cross-cut shredders cut rectangular shreds and use two blades to do the cutting. Particle-cut shredders produce small squares or circles. Disintegrators continuously cut the paper at random points until the pieces are small enough to pass through a screen. Hammermills hammer the paper through a small screen while Grinders grind the paper until it can pass. Finally, the pierce and tear shredders pierce the paper and tear it apart.
Additionally, paper shredders are classified based on the size of particles or strips that they produce. These security levels range from Level 1, with twelve millimeter strips, to Level 6, with .8 x 4 millimeter particles. Some government agencies have special shredders that are not typically commercially available. Generally, a high security shredder will be one that is approved by the United States Department of Defense or by the National Security Agency. In the past, the US General Services Administration set the guidelines for shredding classified materials and security levels. However, the administration ceased to issue any more guidance after 2000. In some government situations, the shredded particles will then undergo another process that will destroy the paper further. The extra process usually entails burning, decomposition, or composting.
While the government certainly has a huge need for high security shredders, companies and small businesses do as well. Identity theft and corporate spying are huge threats in the corporate world. It is not uncommon to hear of identity theft because a company did not properly dispose of customer information. Thankfully, vigorous government regulations are safeguarding this private information and forcing companies to properly dispose of it. Even small businesses will find high security shredders to be increasingly important. Monthly bank statements, financial information, credit card applications, and anything with relevant client information should be properly disposed of.
Andy West is a writer for iShopShredders.com which offers a variety of high security shredder products.