Why Choose a Cross-Cut Shredder?
Modern paper shredders come in all sorts of different types and sizes. There are different bin capacities, different feed capacities (i.e. how many sheets you can feed in at once), models that you have to feed paper into by hand and those where you can leave a pile and it does the rest automatically.
Broadly speaking, all these differences are there to provide choice, to cater for a range of needs in different environments. From the smallest home paper shredders designed to handle just a few sheets at a time to the largest commercial models for big offices that can chew up hundreds of documents a day, there’s a paper shredder out there that does exactly what you need.
Regardless of where you use a paper shredder or what volume of shredding you have to do, there is, however, one requirement that is increasingly consistent across all - the need to conform with a minimum standard of security.
Data protection - not just a digital matter
Since the introduction of the GDPR and other data protection regulations around the world, the spotlight has been shone on how organisations look after and use people’s personal and private data. A lot of the attention gets put on digital data management. But if you read the terms of the GDPR, no mention is made of a digital breach being different to a ‘physical’ breach.
Leave a sheet of paper containing customer or employee details behind in a cafe or restaurant or conference centre, even throw it in a bin where, in theory, anyone could walk along and get hold of those details, you have committed a data breach potentially every bit as costly as failing to secure a customer database properly, or copying in the wrong person in on an email where sensitive information is shared.
Organisations have had to up their game on data protection in all its guises, including how paper documents containing personal information are handled and disposed of. This has triggered a renewed focus on paper shredding. One of the shifts is that it is now widely accepted that there is a minimum standard for how ‘secure’ shredding has to be before it is considered GDPR-compliant.
Ultimately, this question of paper shredder security all boils down to the cut type you choose.
Cross-cut shredders and data protection
The cut type of a paper shredder describes the way the cutting mechanism works to shred sheets. There are three basic types. The first (quite literally in the sense that it was the original cut type) is known as strip cut. The rotating cutters of strip cut shredders are arranged so they cut in one direction only (lengthways), producing long, thin strips of paper.
The second cut type, cross cut, has the cutters arranged so they cut across a sheet of paper as well as lengthways. The third type, micro cut, is really just the same principle as cross cut, only the blades are much closer together so you get much smaller pieces (and many more of them).
In the quest for secure paper shredding, smaller is better. The aim is to make it as difficult as possible for anyone to reassemble and therefore read a document once it has been shredded, thus avoiding any sensitive information reaching anyone it shouldn’t reach. You can use the analogy of a jigsaw puzzle - the more pieces, the harder it is to complete. With shredded documents, this greater difficulty translates into greater security.
In the post-GDPR era, strip cut shredders are no longer considered adequate for data secure disposal. A strip cut shredder only cuts a sheet into around 40 pieces. A 40-piece jigsaw isn’t that hard to reassemble, if you’re determined enough to read what is on it.
Cross-cut shredders cut individual sheets into hundreds of pieces.
Cross cut is considered the threshold for adequate data-safe disposal. If you’re dealing mainly with documents containing standard personal data - names, addresses, emails, dates of birth etc. - a cross cut shredder will serve you well. It’s worth bearing in mind that, as soon as you shred more than one sheet, the hundreds of cut pieces from each intermingle in the bin, so the level of security (i.e. the difficulty of resembling individual sheets) actually multiplies the more sheets you shred.
Micro cut shredders, on the other hand, are best considered if you really want to copper bottom your data security for sensitive financial, legal or commercial documents.
Types of cross-cut shredder
Because the need for secure document disposal is now near enough universal across all instances where paper shredders are used, cross-cut shredders can be found right across the Leitz IQ range. Our manual shredders include cross-cut models ranging from super-compact personal or home office models that fit snugly and discreetly under a desk, to large office models with bins up to 30 litres in size, perfect for environments where paperwork is being shredded regularly throughout the day.
For organisations where the volume of shredding required is a step up again, we supply cross-cut auto feed models that can handle up to 600 sheets at a time.
A key principle to remember here is that size and volume of the shredder, or whether it is a manual feed or automatic feed model, has no bearing on the level of security it offers. Because the basic cut mechanism is the same, a six litre capacity personal cross-cut shredder will dispose of your documents just as safely as a 110 litre auto feed model. Both cut individual sheets into the same number of pieces, which is ultimately what paper shredder data protection boils down to.