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Shredding information

Shredding information

A paper shredder is a mechanical device used to cut paper into pieces, typically either strips or fine particles. Government organizations, businesses, and private individuals use shredders to destroy private, confidential, or otherwise sensitive documents. Privacy experts often recommend that individuals shred  tax documents, credit card and bank account statements, and other items which could be used by thieves to commit fraud or identity theft.

Types of shredders

Multi-cut scissors used to shred paper

These days thankfully shredders are electric, but there were unpowered ones such as special scissors with multiple blades.

Shredders range in size and price from small and inexpensive units meant for a few pages, to large units that can shred thousands of documents an hour.

Shredding machines are classified according to the size and shape of the shreds they produce.

Shredders can range in size from small personal machines suitable for home use all the way up to industrial sized shredders complete with conveyor feed systems and baling presses.

  • Strip-cut shredders, the least secure, use rotating knives to cut narrow strips as long as the original sheet of paper. Such strips can be reassembled by a determined and patient investigator or adversary, as the product (the destroyed information) of this type of shredder is the least randomized. It also creates the highest volume of waste inasmuch as the waste has the largest surface area and is not compressed.
  • Cross-cut or confeeti-cut shredders use two contra-rotating drums to cut rectangular, parallelogram, or diamond-shaped shreds.
  • Particle-cutshredders create tiny square or circular pieces.
  • Disintegratorsand granulators repeatedly cut the paper at random until the particles are small enough to pass through a mesh.

There are numerous standards and styles of cut for the security levels of paper shredders, including:

cross cut and strip cut


There are also different sizes available in both these shred styles

Intimus shredders Martin Yale shredders and Paper Monster shredders are available in both strip and cross cut

strip cut sizes available are 3.8mm 4mm 5.8mm 6mm and 7mm
cross cut sizes include 4x28mm 3.8x42mm 3.8x30mm 3.8x36mm 1.9x15mm and 0.8x12mm

The style and size of cut you choose will depend on the level of security you feel best suits your situation, strip cut styles are less secure than cross cut and also fill up the waste container more quickly as it doesnt compress down as much as cross cut pieces.

Cross cut styles are the most effectice and secure style of sredds, the smaller in size the more secure they become.

SCEC Endorsed Paper Shredders

Australian Federal Government Offices use Security Level 4-5 Australian classification Class A and Class B document shredders. Only document paper shredders that are SCEC Endorsed can be commissioned for use within these Australian Federal Government office environments. SCEC Endorsed Paper & Optical Media Shredders and Destructors have been thoroughly tested and examined, gaining SCEC and DSM compliance by ASIO T4 protective security. This tested equipment only gains approval when security performance, consistently protects paper-based and ICT media carriers to these levels.

Australian Government Offices and Contractors to the Australian Federal Government who have obligations to comply by correctly destroying Top Secret, Highly Protected and Classified information are encouraged to utilise the resources of the SEC - “Security Equipment Catalogue” which is available from ASIO T4 Protective Security. The Security Equipment Catalogue is available via online access to select government and interdepartmental authorities, constantly being updated in real time. Agencies should refer to the SEC Security Equipment Catalogue when selecting this physical security equipment.