Paper shredders are some of the best office equipment that help provide information security, specifically to paper-based documents. These devices are nearly as common as any ordinary office equipment, and they’re generally easy to find and to use.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that different shredders offer different levels of security. In this article, we will talk about the different security levels that the latest internationally recognized standards have set for shredders.
DIN 63399 Standards
The DIN 63399 establishes the different levels of destruction of paper-based documents and other data carriers such as CDs, films, and the like. This set of standards is very detailed, which is why it is followed by many countries although it originated from Germany.
DIN, in fact, stands for Deutsches Institut für Normung. In English, it stands for the German Institute for Standardization which is like an equivalent of USA’s American National Standards Institute or ANSI.
DIN 63399, which is an improved and updated version of the DIN 32757, enumerates seven security levels in the destruction of paper-based documents: DIN P-1 to DIN P-7. Every company and individual is free to choose which level they want to use, but knowing what these levels mean can help them match their security need with the type of shredder that they should buy.
Level P-7 turns paper documents into particles as small as 5mm2 in area and 1mm in width. It’s the ideal level for destroying top-secret information, and it is the only type of shredder that has satisfied NASA’s data security needs.
Level P-6 used to be the highest security level in the previous DIN standards. However, because a better, more secure device has been created, shredders in this level have become very rare. Level P-6 output is about 1/4-inch longer than Level P-5 output.
Level P-5 turns papers into thin rectangular strips. Its output is small enough to destroy sensitive information, but it isn’t ideal for classified documents. Its output is about 30mm2 in area and 2mm in width.
Level P-4 produces crosscut shreds. Shredders of this level are some of the most popular, mainly because of their irregularly-shaped outputs that make document reconstruction nearly impossible. Its output size is about 160mm2 in area and 6mm in width.
Level P-3 produces strips of 320mm2 in area and 2mm in width. This level satisfies the standards of FACTA that gets rid of unnecessary credit information and HIPAA that guides the destruction of unnecessary medical records.
Level P-2 produces strips of 800mm2 in area and 6mm in width. It’s ideal for documents that do not contain personally identifiable information.
Level P-1 produces wide strips of about 6.5-inch area and half-inch width. It’s ideal for preparing papers for recycling or simply reducing their volume prior to disposal.
With this knowledge of different security levels, you or your company can make a more informed choice when selecting a paper shredder.