Published 29th of October 2020

There isn’t a business that doesn’t have some sort of confidential documentation that needs to be protected. The risks posed by any sensitive information going missing, either by misfortune or through criminal activity, are extremely high. Companies that hold a lot of paper-based documents and files are at a higher risk.

What are confidential business documents?

Confidential documents are any documentation that has personal information about an individual, customer or client. Personal data is information about an individual that can be used to identify him/her.

It’s vital that everyone in a business understands what’s sensitive and what isn’t. Confidential documents can be anything from company financial records to employee details, home addresses, names and credit card numbers.

Disposing of documents securely is important

Under GDPR legislation, if you hold sensitive information about anyone, they have the right to request that you completely dispose of this data and no longer hold any information about them.To ensure that the data is completely removed from your records and can’t be pieced back together, you will need to destroy the relevant documentation. A ‘shred all’ policy is recommended, as it’s the easiest policy to follow for any unwanted documents. This saves employees from having to make the decision on what is or is not classified as confidential.

It’s important to get rid of documents securely to prevent identity theft and theft of confidential information about your business. Although many businesses are now storing data electronically, the notion of a completely paperless office is unrealistic. Therefore, it’s essential that documents that are no longer needed are shredded, while storing those that are still in your possession in a safe place.

The retention period of each document will depend on the type of document, the data that it contains and the industry you are in. Read our guide to document retention policies and retention periods for more information on this.

How to dispose of confidential documents

There are many ways that you can destroy confidential documents. We will cover the two types of documents and the best, most secure method of destroying them.

Getting rid of digital documents

GDPR regulations apply for confidential data stored electronically in exactly the same as information stored on paper. Once you no longer have a reason to retain it, it needs to be securely erased and discarded.

Data stored on a computer is very vulnerable to cyber-attacks and is more difficult to control as data can easily be copied to multiple locations. If you don’t have an in-house IT department to manage the storage of your digital documents, you can hire one to help you “clean” your digital storage. This will ensure that nothing gets missed or leaked. A good IT company will know how to encrypt data so that no one else can hack your data.

Electronic items like hard drives, computers and laptops should be destroyed after use via shredding machines. Even when computers are broken or have been wiped clean, the information on them can still be recovered. To keep data secure, we would recommend not selling IT equipment or parts. Physically destroying and recycling electronic items is the most secure way to protect confidentiality. Shredall SDS Group has a target to recycle 100% of non-contaminated waste as part of our ISO 14001 Environmental Management Certification.

The best way to discard confidential paper documents

Shredding is the most secure and effective method to destroy hard copies of confidential documents. Whether the business needs a one-off service or regularly needs to keep on top of data, companies like Shredall SDS Group can provide an ad-hoc or scheduled service.

A professional provider uses the highest level of security suitable for confidential information, which crosscuts strips of 16mm ensuring that shredded paper cannot be pieced back together.

This is a GDPR-compliant way to dispose of documents and is environmentally friendly, as shredded items can be recycled much more easily than non-shredded documents.

Shredall SDS Group meets all the above requirements and more. Our processes comply with BS EN15713 Secure Destruction of Confidential Waste. This is a standard specified by the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) and covers security levels, vetting of employees (BS 7858) and recycling. We are proud to say that we recycle 100% of our shredded paper at UK paper mills.

This guide has explained how to dispose of confidential documents securely and in a way that ensures GDPR compliance. Whether you need to destroy electronically stored data or paper files, Shredall SDS Group can help. We support businesses across the whole of the UK, including:

Wherever you are based, we can arrange to collect from your premises.