What do the different levels of shredder security mean?

posted this on Jul 22, 2015

Shredders are commonly found in every major industry today. Even most home offices have at least a small device to get rid of unwanted junk mail and other documents. While it’s obvious that higher security levels create smaller pieces, it’s not always clear which level is best for what purposes. The most common rating system is the Deutsche Industrial Norm or DIN, which was designed as a standard in Europe as a guide to help customers make an informed choice. Here is a closer look at each level and what they are best used for.

  • Level One: This is the most basic security level available and results in long strips of paper. It works well for general internal documents and records. It is also great for home use to dispose of basic materials, such as unwanted homework or junk mail. Do not use this level of security for any items containing private information.
  • Level Two: Paper remnants at this level are mainly strips, with a few cross cut machines putting out bigger confetti pieces. While this is still a low rating, it can be used for sensitive internal documents and personal documents. This level is sometimes described as being good for every day use in the destruction of notes, invoices, computer print outs and photocopies. We still wouldn’t recommend this level for private information.
  • Level Three: Most machines providing this level of security create cross cut particles, with a few very narrow strip cutters out there as well. Level three is the lowest rating needed for FACTA compliance. This level is great for disposing of confidential business and personal documents, including personal data, financial information, personnel files, and employee records.
  • Level Four: From here on up, only cross cut particles will remain. Level four is excellent for secret documents. Pieces are either cross or diamond cut and will safely destroy documents crucial to a company’s existence or a person’s well being.
  • Level Five: Extremely confidential documents will stay safe with a level five security rating, the highest rating given by DIN. This is also the first Department of Defense approved level for government offices, military agencies, and research labs. Level five is perfect for high security requirements.
  • Level Six: Although not actually on the DIN scale, level six is nevertheless hailed as the highest security level available. The micro cut particles meet NSA/CSS specifications for top secret document destruction, making this rating ideal for use in military offices and Homeland Security agencies.
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