03. 05. 2019
Secure document destruction is the important last step in any effective document management process. Though businesses pay great attention to secure and effective document storage, they sometimes forget about the safe destruction of documents whose retention periods have expired.
Many businesses only start destroying paper documents when they begin to run out of archival space. There are often doubts as to whether paper documents may still be needed, as once destroyed they will no longer be available. If you convert documents into electronic form immediately upon receipt, you can avoid paper from the very beginning.
You can destroy paper document without fear
Doubts and fear that electronic documents will be invalid in legal and administrative procedures are totally unnecessary. The Protection of Documents and Archives and Archival Institutions Act stipulates that documentation in digital form is considered to be the same as the original provided that it is stored securely in accordance with a company’s internal rules. It is important that the company’s internal rules be aligned with legal and regulatory requirements as well as uniform technological requirements. If you act in accordance with your internal rules, paper documents may be securely destroyed immediately after digitisation, or in any case after the expiration of their respective retention periods.
Not all document destruction is secure
The secure destruction process will prevent unauthorised persons from accessing business documents containing personal or other confidential information. Don’t trust just anyone to destroy your documents. The cheapest and easiest option may later turn out to be a bad decision, as improperly destroyed documentation may prove very costly and damage your business’s reputation.
When making decisions about document destruction, it’s important that you know:
- where and how the service provider will collect the documents,
- when the documents will be destroyed,
- how the documents will be destroyed in order to meet the security requirements: will the documentation be compressed or shredded, and how large the shreds will be.
Consider the four principles of safe document destruction
1. When the retention period expires, destroy the documents
Business documents have a statutory retention period. It’s important to destroy them immediately after the retention period expires, rather than storing them in archives. If you keep documents containing personal information after their retention period expires, you’re violating the Personal Data Protection Act.
2. Choose a secure document shredding method
How documents are destroyed depends on the type and sensitivity of the information they contain. Pressing documents into bales is not a secure destruction method. Once the baling bands are removed, the documents are still fully legible - that’s why you should always opt for shredding.
3. Select an appropriately secure level of shredding
The DIN 66399 international standard defines seven levels of secure shredding. The higher the security level, the smaller the pieces into which the documents will be shredded. Level 1 is for general documentation, while level 7 is for strictly confidential security information. For documents with sensitive and confidential information, we recommend that you choose level 3, which provides for shredding into pieces no larger than 3.2 cm².
4. Be present for the shredding
In order to be sure that your documents were really destroyed as agreed, be personally present for the shredding, or authorise someone to do so. After shredding, you should receive a record of the document destruction.
By securely shredding documents, you prevent unauthorised persons from accessing documents containing confidential business or personal data. Such unauthorised access can cause significant damage to your business - damage which is difficult to measure in financial terms. The potential loss of public trust and reputation is not to be taken lightly. Therefore, when choosing a document destruction method, there should be no debate - always choose secure shredding from a trusted service provider.
If our advice has prompted you to think about how you destroy your confidential business documents, or if you need additional advice, please contact us. We would be happy to help you find the right solution.
Miha Škrabar, Head of Technology and operations department at Microcop
08. 05. 2019
24. 04. 2019