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Don’t throw away your competitive advantage, destroy it!

By Shopify API March 26, 2019

Sensible data destruction measures you should employ

You would not invite your closest competitors or known criminals to your confidential meetings, nor would you copy them into your future plans or private communication. Unfortunately too many businesses today are unwittingly doing just that. All too often security departments are postured to tackle high tech cyber attacks when in fact a part of the problem is as old as pen and paper. Why and how do companies lose sensitive data every day through inadequate or ineffective data disposal methods?

Words, Zeros and Ones

Before looking at what goes wrong it is necessary to define what we mean by data. It is anything containing information; from paper to portable storage capacity. This encompasses cell phones, hard drives, printers with memory and of course; computers. We have covered elsewhere the story of a data storage device on the Space Shuttle that survived unimaginable destructive forces and could still be read. The message is, just because a data device no longer functions, or has superficial damage, never assume that it is not readable.

A love letter to a war

One of the dangers of throwing away seemingly innocuous data is that an experienced criminal can combine it with other methods to attack you. A simple family letter or email could be turned into a spear phishing attack or seemingly innocent information could give away vital pieces of an overall jigsaw. To paint an extreme picture: when a war is brewing, soldiers telling their loved ones they will not be coming home this weekend could be signal that they are mobilizing for something big – the soldiers concerned may not even know this fact themselves. Even some government organizations have disposed of sensitive information such as social security numbers in the past [1]. Studies suggest that you are 5 times more likely to be a victim of fraud if your social security number is compromised.

All data are not created equal

Different types of data require different destruction techniques and therefore specialist equipment. There is a story of the Iranian Government reassembling shredded diplomatic correspondence from the former American Embassy in the 1980s.  This was only possible because the incorrect type of shredder had been used (the appropriate one was broken). Some companies need to protect themselves from this level of state sponsored threat, others may not need to. One of the best ways that you can find the appropriate data destruction solution for your bespoke situation is to talk to an expert. Whitaker Brothers has been in this field for over 70 years and is first and foremost a brick and mortar company. We supply the top paper shredders and disintegrators/granulators to eliminate any trace of sensitive data.  

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