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Destruction Processes

Please click the boxes below to see the typical ways of destroying or removing data from media plus HMG’s recommendations to the highest security levels.

Shredding ▼
Shredding is the term used to feed Paper and or Media into a set of counter rotating interlocking cutters, blades or knives, whereby the media is reduced in size by cutting.  Shredders, or Shredding Machines, produce 2 distinct types of Shredding Cut.  Strip or Spaghetti Cut Shredding is the most basic type where the pieces produced are cut into long parallel lengths, and Cross or Confetti Cut Shredding that cuts the paper both widthways, and lengthways into pieces of varying particle size. There are different terms associated with the size of particle produced depending on the size of chip - Micro Cut, Crypto Cut or High Security Cut.  Generally the smaller the cut the higher the security of the shreds as less information can be viewed.  The most secure shredders are capable of producing well over 10,000 cross-cut pieces from just 1 x A4 sheet of paper.  To meet HMG’s highest security levels paper based products should be destroyed to 60mm2
Disintegration ▼Disintegration

Disintegration is where Media is fed into a cutting chamber that has hardened blades that rotate at very high speeds.  The blades cut the media within the chamber thereby reducing the size of the material pieces and also remove much of the printing which in turn destroys recording surfaces. Disintegrators can be fitted with a security screen which has holes of various sizes cut.  The perforated screen will only allow the material processed through the holes when it reaches a size small enough to fall through either by gravity or with the help of an attached vacuum pump.  The security level of the resultant cut media pieces is therefore dependent on the size of the holes cut into the security screen – the smaller the holes, the higher the security as less information can be viewed.  To meet the highest security level security screens are drilled with 6mm holes to destroy media to a maximum particle of 6mm in any direction.

Degaussing ▼Degaussing

Degaussing, through a Magnetic Media Degausser, produces an erasing magnetic field that permanently destroys all information stored on media such as Hard Disk Drives (HDD’s), Magnetic Back-up Tapes used in Laptops, PC Computer Systems, Servers, Photocopiers and Printers.  The Magnetic storage on Media uses different patterns of magnetisation to hold the information on the recording surface and Degaussing reverses the polarity thereby the information stored is wiped and is no longer retrievable. The amount of information removed from the ‘Platter’ holding disk of HDD’s or Magnetic Strip of Cards and Tapes is dependent upon the strength and polarity of the degaussing used.  There are 2 levels of CESG approved Degaussers – Lower and Higher Level.  CESG, who are the National Technical Authority for Information Assurance, are the UK Government Departments responsible for approving Degaussers, currently have no testing facility for Higher Level Degaussing Products so at this time all National Security Agency NSA/CSS Evaluated Products are acceptable to be used to the CESG Higher Level.

Grinding or Scrubbing ▼Grinding or Scrubbing
Optical Disks have a layer of information stored on the surface or within a plastic circular Disk.  Grinding that surface by spinning the Disk against an abrasive surface like an emery wheel removes the stored information so that it cannot be optically viewed.  The highest security is achieved if the surface removed is processed to dust and in such cases machines can be fitted with a vacuum system to collect the residue so that it is not ingested.  Some Disks, depending on where the information is stored mat be required to be split prior to Grinding.   To meet the HMG highest level, Optical Media must be destroyed to a maximum size of 2mm pieces in any direction.
Guillotining ▼Guillotining

Pieces of media are cut with a sharp blade which can either be activated manually or with electrical power.  The more the media is cut, producing smaller pieces, the higher the security level achieved.  Media can be turned sideways to produce cross-cut pieces of various sizes, dependent on how many times it is cut to increase the level of security, but reducing the size of the particles.  To meet the HMG highest level, guillotined pieces must be destroyed to a maximum size of 2mm pieces in any direction.

Paper Pulping ▼Paper Pulping

Paper is made from the cellulose fibres that are present in hardwood and softwood trees. To Pulp, Paper is generally broken down into its component elements by reducing it in size by shredding into smaller pieces and then feeding the shreds into an electric pulping machine. This further reduces the fibrous properties by chopping in a tank which contains water and chemicals like bleach.  This process removes the printed information from the surface of the paper. To meet the HMG highest level, pulping must remove every character.

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