The National Cyber Security Alliance declared January 28th as Data Privacy Day. The purpose of the day is to remind people about all the data stored in electronic media and computer networks. Most companies consider the data on their labtop computers but that is only one place that private information is stored.
Every business needs a plan to wipe the data everywhere it is stored. This includes copy machines, smartphones, thumb drives and security systems. IT departments should inventory every device that stores data. When they are retired they should be returned for data cleaning. It can be running software, destroying memory cards, or shredding hard drives. Once this is done they can be recycled or returned to the lessor.
Now that the data is secured it is time to come up with a contigency plan. No plan is perfect and it is only a matter of time before there is a data breach. Set up a system that audits all devices to detect any breaches. Have a process that notifies all the entities the law requires. And perhaps most importantly, make sure there is one person who is in charge of all data breaches. They should have the authority to fix problems quickly.
Northern Michigan is getting a new document shredding service. Tim Ridley and Denis Droope are opening Great Lakes Secure Shredding in West Branch. The company will offer off-site shredding and drop off shredding. They will pick up between Standish and Mackinac Bridge.
The company is currently installing their shredder and baler. They hope to be operational by the first of February. They plan on using flex fuel vehicles to be a greener company.
It is nice to see new companies entering the market. With all the consolidation in the market the natural response is new local services starting up. An efficient market will always spawn new companies.
Tax time is a great time to clean out all of the files that have been building up around the office. The most common recommendation is to keep tax files for seven years. After the seven years has passed it is time to shred them. Here is the full list of recommendations for personal record retention and business record retention.
This alone generates a great deal of shredding for even a small office. But once you have a truck coming out then it makes sense to get it all done. Check in with the person responsible for human resources and marketing to make sure they are not holding on to outdated files.
The last place to check is with individual employees. They are likely to have files that they have been holding on to from past projects. If it contains sensitive information it should be held in a secure part of the office. If it simply is no longer needed then it makes sense to shred it.
The other thing to consider at tax time is basic security of your mail. Make a list of every tax document you are expecting. Cross them off as they come in and set in a secure place. If one is missing you will know early and it may also be a sign of trouble. Call the organization to see if it was mailed or not. If it was mailed then keep an eye out for fraud. For more tips on identity fraud get the monthly ID Theft Alert emailed to you.
The Office Depot was very excited to announce that one of their shredders is was a “Best Buy” in Consumer’s Digest. Consumer’s Digest defines a “Best Buy” a product that has a combination of performance, ease of use, features, warranty, efficiency, style, and maintenance and service requirements. The shredder in question can do 12 sheets at a time and costs $80. In the past Consumer’s Digest has been pretty accurate with their ratings. So for this post we will assume they are correct and this is a good shredder. But I am more interested on how a “Best Buy” shredder would compare to shredding service on some basic office shredding.
Lets contemplate a small office. They aren’t going to generate a tremendous amount of shredding. If they have the basic account reports they print out and then customer lists or other correspondence that contain private information. This can be to protect the trade secrets of the business or to protect their customers’ information. Shredding is required by FACTA for almost every business. The exception is one that deals exclusively in cash.
So our hypothetical office has one box worth of paper to shred. At 12 sheets at a time it would take hundreds of passes through the machine. A low paying office worker is going to make at least $10 per hour. So you have a couple of hours in wages to go through the box. The company should budget $20 into their shredding budget or $240 every year.
Now lets compare that to a shredding service. The business wants to see it shredded so we will look at mobile shredding. The larger the volume the better the pricing. But this is a small office so lets say they only have 10 boxes to shred. This is going to be on the low side and more expensive per box. But even so you can expect to pay less than half of what the shredder costs.
In the end the “Best Buy” shredder cost more than a shredding service. The shredder will require capital spending. It needs maintenance and replacement. Shredders require assigning the work to an employee and supervising the work which can hardly be considered efficient. This shredder may be good when compared to other shredders but it doesn’t measure up when compared to all the options to finish the job.
The New York City Police Department is in a bit of hot water. They told residents that there was group of people who were posing and bottle collectors to get personal information out of the trash. It seems like good advice since identity theft rings can pay drug addicts to do the dirty work and pay them very little.
The problem is they didn’t follow their own advice. A News 12 reporter recently discovered personal files in a trash can at a Bronx station. It is unclear who is responsible for the slip up. However, based on the cavailer response by the police department it is probably a problem waiting to happen again.
For those of you in New York City we have a better solution than just hoping no one is looking in your trash. A secure New York shredding service will pick up your documents, shred them, and provide the recycling. One call and we can get you competitive rates with the best providers in the city.
We reported earlier that Dallas County uses criminals to operate their shredding program. It seemed like they county comissioners had seen the light after the situation was shown on the news. It is hard to believe that anyone would consider convicted criminals to be the best source of labor when handling sensitive information about county residents.
But we can now say it is impossible to underestimate the Dallas County comissioners. They downplayed any problems with the current system. It doesn’t appear that they have any intentions of using a reputable Dallas shredding service. Or even using people without a criminal record do the work. Even with the knowledge that the current system led to an identity being stolen.
I award the Three Stooges Shredding award to the Dallas County comissioners for not caring a bit about the people who elected them. When the county is paying for credit protection for all of the residences they might rethink their inability to act today.
Miller Elementary in the Santa Maria-Benita School District was cleaning out a storge room over the winter break and ended up throwing boxes of files from students who were applying for assisted lunch. These included the financial records for the families. The records were discovered by a woman throwing out some trash. She rep0rted the incident to the news.
I will refrain from going over the problems with leaving things in the dumpster since we have written about it so many times before. What is more interesting to me is how this all happened.
From the reports the financial records from students were left in boxes right next to boxes of textbooks. They were obviously not stored very securely. They were not locked up with other important files. It makes sense why the people cleaning the room thought that they were of little import and could be left in the trash.
Documents with personal information should be handled with care from creation through shredding. Basic security is keeping them locked up. Physical access should only be provided with people who need to see the student files and their personal information.
An unlocked room of documents is a hidden threat. An employee could go into the room and take files from the middle of the shelves. It is unlikely that they would ever be missed. They information could be stolen with impunity.
The bottom line is to set aside all important documents. Clearly label them so mistakes are not made. Put them in a locked room or file cabinet. Give access only to those who truly need it.
Shred360 of Columbia, South Carolina, has announced the purchased Secure Shred of Spartanburg South Carolina. The combined company will continue to operate as Shred360. Financial details of the sale were not disclosed.
The shredding industry continues the move to more consolidation. Not only are the large national chains acquiring new companies but regional are doing the same thing. But for every company that gets acquired there is a an owner who is now past their non-compete and looking to start back into the business. I don’t forsee the end of the local shredder in the near future.
Jacquelyn Romero was looking for boxes to store her Christmas decorations but got more than she expected. She found what looked like good boxes by a dumpster but they weren’t empty. They were filled with medical records. The files inclueded all the basics you need for identity theft.
Jacquelyn called the local news with the problem. It is still unclear who was responsible for the records. They are now with the Nevada Board of Medical Examiners.
Shredding medical records has been a federal requirement since HIPAA went into effect half a dozen years ago. The fines that can be imposed are very punative with the HITECH changes to the law.
If you have medical records we have some great Las Vegas shredding services that can help you out. The can turn medical records into bits and then recycle it all.