Reconstructing shredded documents is becoming more and more important as our troops overseas amass huge sums of enemy intelligence in the form of heaps of cross cut shredded material. This problem and opportunity for gains in enemy intelligence has spawned the “Shredder Challenge” put forth by DARPA. This challenge marks more than just an improvement of intelligence gathering. It also marks the beginning of a new era of data destruction awareness and importance of elevated levels of security for shredders on the civilian market as well. The Shredder Challenge hopes to harness ingenuity from companies and ordinary citizens alike to solve this problem. DARPA is calling on computer scientists, puzzle enthusiasts, and anyone else who likes solving complex problems. Although this isn’t a multimillion dollar military contract, it does show a growing need—a need that will undoubtedly continue to grow. Although these techniques, methodologies and technology learned from this contest will directly benefit our armed forces, it is undoubtedly also needed for investigative agencies such as the FBI, CIA, and even our own local police departments. Learn more at the official website here: ShredderChallenge.com Of course, document reconstruction is nothing new to the security industry. Dumpster diving educational activities have always been a fun aspect to security conferences and security training series. Many learn the weakness that some shredders pose when shredding at lower security levels such as level 2 and level 3. By manually reconstructing shredded documents, security professionals and ordinary citizens can quickly and easily learn that although the process is painstaking, it doesn’t take a super sleuth to accomplish. Many other countries such as China and Iran have been involved in famous reconstruction efforts of US documents that have gone through shredders. These efforts took many man hours and were only partially successful. But now, as this effort is at the forefront of intelligence gathering, the US hopes to make the process easier, quicker, and more efficient than ever before.
Modern reconstruction techniques include computer scanners, and sophisticated software. Although this process is a huge improvement over tradition hunt and peck puzzling, it can still be quite time consuming, especially as the amount of documents pile up. The contest hopes to bring many techniques together to create the best possible method at reconstructing shredded documents.We hope that this contest brings new awareness to the document destruction techniques currently used. As this initiative and others like continue to break new ground, the technology used to reconstruct documents will become more and more accessible. Like many military technologies such as GPS and night vision, document reconstruction technology will eventually be released and spill over into the civilian market. As this happens, businesses and even families will likely need to rethink there security when it comes to shredded documents. As documents become easier and easier to reconstruct, standard level 2 and level 3 cross cut and strip cut security levels will become more and more risky, leaving many no choice but to turn to level 4, 5 and even top secret level 6/P-7 for the new standard of document security.