Smart and Secure: In Today's Hostile Business World, Organisations Must Review Security Measures and Initiate Systems to Minimise Their Vulnerability. What Are the Priorities? (Business Security)

By Baker, Glenn | New Zealand Management, July 2003 | Go to article overview

Smart and Secure: In Today's Hostile Business World, Organisations Must Review Security Measures and Initiate Systems to Minimise Their Vulnerability. What Are the Priorities? (Business Security)


Baker, Glenn, New Zealand Management


Those with mischief in mind have a widening range of ways to access a company s valuable and vulnerable intellectual assets--and stories abound of businesses that have fallen victim to such attacks.

At the heart of an organisation's risk management policy there needs to be sound security practices utilising the latest technology, both online and off-line, internal and external.

It all starts with identifying the risks, then implementing appropriate strategy and deploying technology to minimise those risks. A good place to begin is with document management.

Shredding the evidence

Document shredders are still the first line of defence for preventing hard copies, CDs and floppy disks getting into the wrong hands. With the Privacy Act still uppermost in people's minds, personal desk-side shredders are growing in popularity, and companies have been forced to tighten their in-house shredding policies.

Impact Klipbind general manager Carl Nielson divides shredders into two broad categories.

"One is a straight-cut shredder that shreds paper into spaghetti noodle lengths between 1.9 and six millimetres. The other is a cross-cut shredder that cuts the paper lengthwise and widthwise and therefore makes a more secure shred" he says. "A cross-cut shredder also creates a more compact shred, producing around 75 percent less volume of shredded material."

The amount of paper a shredder can handle is important for buyers, although Nielson points out that most shredder manufacturers base throughput on 70gsm sheets, which are thinner than the 80gsm sheet traditionally found in New Zealand offices.

"So a machine will shred around 25 percent less sheets than the specification, unless it specifically states 80gsm sheets,' he says.

"An entry-level shredder will shred three to five sheets of 80gsm paper at once, but by investing a little more money, a good shredder can handle double that amount."

Make sure the shredder you buy can more than match the amount of shredding to be done now, and in the future. Has it got enough grunt and solid steel cutters to munch through the occasional paper clip or staple? Does it have a safety cut-off switch, or a reverse switch for extracting any jammed sheets?

And here's a tip from Nielson that should keep your shredder heads running sweetly for years.

"Most shredders, especially cross-cut models, should have the cutting head oiled regularly to prevent dust build-up, which reduces the cutting efficiency. Simply use sewing machine or 3-in-1 oil, grab a couple of sheets of paper, squirt a little oil across the width of each sheet and run them through the shredder"

Off-site document destruction

While a certain amount of document management and destruction can be handled internally, there comes a time (and more importantly volume of documents) when the bulk of the work is best left to off-site service providers. While it can vary from company to company, generally the off-site industry uses a mid-volume photocopier as the benchmark on when to make the switchover from internal management to external. If your company has a reasonable size copier that's getting a fair amount of usage, you should seriously consider using an off-site service.

As always, when choosing a service provider, make sure they comply with all appropriate local and international codes of practice. Companies involved in the destruction of documents and management records are required to be licensed, and security guards are required to be licensed under the Security Guards and Private Investigators Act 1974.

Such services not only provide a totally secure process of destroying paper-based information and other items that could be confidential, sensitive, or useful to your competitors (including CDs, tapes, disks, and hard drives)--they also do so in an environmentally friendly manner. The shredded by-product is either recycled into usable products (yes that egg carton may once have contained important information), or incinerated in a manner that befits our regulatory climate. …

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