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Understanding Shredder Security Levels

Level 2  Strip Cut is the least secure method of shredding documents, and we can only really recommend it for general document shredding. Strip Cut shredding is exactly what it sounds like: documents are merely cut into long strips, meaning that if a criminal were persistent enough, he or she could easily piece the document back together so it was readable.


1. Level 2 - Strip Cut is the least secure method of shredding documents, and we can only really recommend it for general document shredding. Strip Cut shredding is exactly what it sounds like: documents are merely cut into long strips, meaning that if a criminal were persistent enough, he or she could easily piece the document back together so it was readable. The only documents that should be destroyed in this manner are those that have no information on them that could not possibly lead to any sort of financial or personal loss if they were to be read by someone with bad intentions. We don't mind going on record stating that we are not big fans of strip cut shredding, considering that there are so many cross cut (or better) machines on the market that offer near the capacity of strip cut models, with none of the worry.

2. Level 3 - Cross Cut is the next step up, and it is a world of difference as far as security goes. Cross cut machines cut paper into short confetti-like rectangular shapes. Most cross cut shredders on the market today offer what is known as a Security Level of 3. This classification relates to what are known as the FACTA regulations, passed by congress in 2005. These laws state that businesses and individuals who regularly handle sensitive financial and personal information of either employees or customers must properly destroy these documents whenever they are being discarded. In other words, if you have a file of, say, social security numbers, you can't just put it in the recycling bin, you must shred it in a machine that offers a Level 3 Security or above. If you don't you may find yourself subject to pretty steep fines, as well as possible litigation if someone can prove that they were financially damaged due to documents that you mishandled. The safest, easiest way for you to protect yourself is to do your shredding with a Level 3 (or better) cross cut machine.

3. Levels 4-5 Cross Cut. Sometimes known as "diamond cut," these shredders cut paper into particles that are similar to L3 cross cut, but are either smaller, or diamond-shaped (even more difficult to piece together) or both. These Security levels are what you might want to consider when you must regularly shred documents that contain information that is vital to the survival of your business, or is otherwise considered top secret. It important to note that as security levels rise, in most cases the sheet capacity of the machine will drop. While it is possible to find L3 shredders that have sheet capacities near that of L2 strip cut models, that is not often the case with L4 and L5 machines. You will have to decide what the balance is between the level productivity you want out of your machine, and the level of security you need on a regular basis.

4. Level 6 Micro Shred. Usually reserved for high-level, top-secret government work (such as the military and Homeland Security), these shredders virtually obliterate your average sheet of paper into thousands of tiny particles. To get a rating of L6, a shredder must meet guidelines set out by the National Security Administration, usually seen as "NSA/CSS Specification 02-01." It's probably overkill for the average business to seek out an L6 Security shredder, but they are availableComputer Technology Articles, albeit with some of the productivity caveats that go along with Levels 5 and 6.

Article Tags: Security Levels, Paper Into

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