It's time for a brief and interesting history lesson. Following the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the US government abandoned their embassy in Tehran. The building became a major focal point for the ongoing conflict, with more than fifty US citizens being held hostage in the embassy building from November 1979 until January 1981, in an event known as the Iran hostage crisis (which was given a Hollywood makeover in the 2012 Oscar-winning film Argo). The newly-installed government of Iran were eager to review the documents left behind by US embassy workers, and while the embassy was being prepared for evacuation, diplomatic staff still had time to shred sensitive documents. The Iranian authorities drafted in local carpet weavers, who, with a lot of time and effort, managed to reconstruct many of the documents. There is some logic to this, since the carpet weavers were experienced with joining individual strands together to form a predetermined pattern.
When operating a small home business, you don't generally need to be concerned about governments recruiting unexpected specialists to reconstruct documents you've shredded, but you still need to be sure that your document destruction methods are secure.
Upgrading Your Process
Sure, you probably just shred any sensitive documents which you no longer need to retain, but is this truly sufficient when it comes to protecting the information that was displayed on these documents? You have several straightforward options for upgrading your document destruction process.
- Purchase a crosscut shredder. This pulverises documents to the point of making reconstruction practically impossible.
- Stagger your disposal methods of the shredded documents. You might simply place them in your household recycling bin for collection, but the shredded scraps could be divided into groups which are then recycled and collected on different days. Document reconstruction cannot be performed when only a portion of the document can be located.
- Unless banned in your local area, you might entertain the possibility of periodically burning the documents in a small outdoor bonfire. Though effective, it's arguably inconvenient. The shredded documents could also be incinerated if you have a fireplace at home.
- Shredded documents could be placed in your household compost bin, where they would rapidly become mulch, meaning reconstruction simply cannot occur.
- If the nature of your business requires you to retain sensitive documents for a predetermined period of time before disposing of them, you could secure them at home for the necessary length of time (in a safe or a lockable filing cabinet) before having them collected and thoroughly disposed of by a professional document destruction company.
So even if a gang of carpet weavers attempted to reconstruct your documents, they would find it an impossible task once you've utilised one of these methods.