The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) is looking for a better way to re-construct shredded paper. They are looking for help from computer scientists and puzzle enthusiasts. If you get the most correct answers from re-constructing 6 examples of shredded paper DARPA will award you $50,000.
The award is from the Shredder Challenge. The idea is that soldiers uncover shredded paper, photograph it and then send images back for re-assembly. This is supposed to mirror a real life application.
I doubt that DARPA is without the ability to re-assemble documents already. They did make it easier by using uniform pieces that were cut. If you want even more security you should rip the paper. This creates variable shapes and destroys information on the edges. But you won’t find that in a shredder you can get at the Office Depot. Tearing is done with the industrial equipment that shredding services own.
There is a new choice for shredding in Dallas. Proshred has awarded a new franchise to Roger Steakley for the Dallas market. Mr Steakly comes to the shredding business from a career in petro-chemicals.
This is the 22nd location for Proshred. The company said they shredded 10,900 tons of paper in the first half of 2011.
The Hazleton Community Ambulance Association was cleaning out old records for their storage location by the South Side Fire Station. It is a good idea to destroy records no longer needed for business record retention. The problem is they didn’t destroy the records, only left them in a dumpster.
The records were visible thorugh the doors on the dumpster. These records conatin the names, addresses, social security numbers, and medical history for past users of the ambulance service. This is an obvious vioulation of HIPAA. Joseph Kotansky, a spokesperson for the service said they failed to take the documents to the shredder.
The dumping was done on a Saturday so it would follow the person wanted to get it done so they could get back to their weekend. Then to add in an inconveint step of having to take the records to another location was too much.
If you are serious about protecting your patients then the shredding needs to be convenient for employees. They will often take the easy way out and assume that noone would bother looking in the dumpster. After years of tracking these stories I am still amazed at how many get detected.
A better solution for the Hazleton Community Ambulance Association or any medical practice is to use document shredding services. The shredder comes to the location and handles all the hard work. The job is done right and the cost is less than paying an employee to drive to another location.
Prominent Gainesville attorney, Ashley Bell is answering some difficult questions about his document management policies. Mr. Bell is a member of the County Board of Commisioners. Sensitive information about juveniles that Mr. Bell turned up in a recycling bin at The Gainesville Times.
A college intern is being blamed for the incident. She drove up to the recycling bin at the Gainesville time with several of boxes of court records. She told an attendent that the court had sent her to dispose of the records. The attendent said the bins were not secure but she insisted on leaving them.
The office issued a statement the intern id not follow proper procedures. They said shredding was a “laborious task.” If the office is having trouble getting the work done or if they find it too “laborious” to perform they can always find shredding services in Gainesville. Mr. Bell said ” You can’t watch your employees every day.” By using a service he wouldn’t have to hope the work was done because he would have a certificate of destruction proving it was done.
We have discussed the particle sizes for paper shredding but it might be time to consider the particle size for hard drive shredding. The standards for removing data from hard drives (sanitizing) come from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The have several options including over-writting data but we will focus on physical destruction. That appears to be the most simple solution since if a software package fails it is not as easy to see and a whole drive remaining intact.
NIST does not identify a specific particle size. Just that it is torn to small pieces. Most existing shredders generate particle sizes aroun 1″. For all but the most sensitive national security information. this is sufficient to make the data on the drive un-recoverable. The debate over what is small will have to rage on.
One of the biggest myths about personal shredding is that it is done for free. That’s because so many municipalities, banks, associations, and real estate offices shoulder the real cost, and provide it to their members for no charge. One of the problems with these “free shred days” is that they only happen once or twice a year, and if you miss it, you’ll have to wait a long time to safely destroy your documents.
There are several affordable alternatives. One is to get a few friends and neighbors together for an informal “Shredding Party.” In this type of event, you select a company to come to your home on a weekday. Simply invite your friends and neighbors to bring their personal shredding to your place, and everyone splits the cost of shredding services. Most companies will be happy to come to your neighborhood for 10 boxes or more, and charge a reasonable fee. Split between two or three parties, the money spent is often less than the cost of a dinner out.
Another benefit of this option over a free shred day is that it will likely take a fraction of the time. You won’t have to wait in long lines just to destroy the 2-3 boxes of sensitive documents that contain old bills, utility statements, and cancelled checks. The truck just backs up in your driveway and shreds the paper to pieces. Some trucks are even equipped with video cameras, so you get a close-up view of the show. The weight threshold for getting a shredding truck to your home is about 10 boxes of documents, or 300 pounds.
Some of the advantages of this include:
- You get to see everything being shred – right at the truck.
- In less than five minutes, our shredding truck will destroy 300-400 pounds of paper.
- You never have to remove paper clips of staples.
- Peace of Mind. Once you destroy the documents, you won’t have to worry about them being misplaced or stolen.
Another alternative to free shred days is the Ship ’n’ Shred service, offered by Shred Nations. This is the perfect solution to one or two boxes of shredding.
Medical records from Dentistry at the Crest in Lonetree were found on the street in Aurora. This is an obvious violation of HIPAA privacy rules. They were found by a street sweeper behind a shopping center. It is unclear how the documents got there. My suspicion is they wanted to skip hiring a Denver shredding service and thought they could just hid them in a dumpster on the other side of town. I have no doubt that it works on occasion we have posted enough stories to see that dumpsters attract a lot of passersby to peak in.
Training Rehabilitation and Development Institute in San Antonio (TRDI) left a box of employee files in the dumpster. It was found by someone looking for boxes for a move. The boxes contained the names, SSNs, and copies of drivers licenses for hundreds of employees. The local news was notified of the situation. The news station must love these reports because they write themselves. Show some video of the box and the dumpster. Then a short interview with the person who found the box. The big payoff is when they find someone that had their identity exposed. Then all that is left is the call to the company spokesperson. [video]
To keep your business from getting the call from “Action News” then a San Antonio document shredding service may be your best defense. One call and the sensitive data is gone.