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Paper & digital shredder

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Overview

Did you know that if you delete some into your recycling bin (windows) or your trash (macs) it doesn't actually delete? Securely erasing our data so it isn't recoverable helps prevent a number of attacks including financial fraud and identity theft, as it reduces the chances of cyber criminals being able to get their hands on our sensitive data.

Time required: 15 - 60mins

Difficulty: Easy

Software/hardware costs: £41.99 (one-off)

Things to do

  • 1. Get a (cheap) cross-cut shredder.

  • 2. Install Digital Shredder software.

  • 3. Securely erase all devices before you sell them or throw them away.

  • 4. Erase or archive your email.

DETAILED HOW-TO INSTRUCTIONS

How-To Instructions

ONE. Get a (cheap) cross-cut shredder.

a. I recommend the Fellowes Powershred M-8C 8 Sheet Cross Cut Personal Shredder (£41.99).

b. Keep an A4 plastic envelope near where you open your mail and file anything that needs to be shredded in there.

c. When the wallet is full (every 2 - 3 months) shred the contents.

d. You don’t need to shred absolutely everything that comes through your letterbox (unless you love confetti!). Shred things with the following on;

  • Medical / health information
  • Date of birth
  • Financial information, e.g. credit / debit cards, bank or tax statements or investment info
  • National insurance number (UK)
  • Personal identification papers, e.g. old passports, copies of birth certificates, driving licenses, etc.
  • Information about the IT software or hardware that you use (e.g. software instruction books, technical support logs, etc.).
  • Resumes/CVs
  • Personal photos and emails
  • Legal documentation (e.g. letters to your lawyer, house sale, lawsuit, etc.)
  • CDs and DVDs with private documents, family videos, etc.

TWO. Install Digital Shredder software.

a. Moving things into our ‘Trash’ or ‘Recycling Bin’ does not actually delete anything. It simply marks it for deletion. It might not be deleted for months!

Therefore, on your main PC/laptop install a program which will securely shred sensitive data for you.

  • macOS: use FileShredder (£8).
  • Windows: use ProtectStar (£14.10) or ShredIt X (free).

THREE. Securely erase all devices before you sell them or throw them away.

a. You might be surprised to hear that cyber criminals buy old laptops and iPhones just to sell your personal data on the black market. We therefore must erase everything before we throw it away or sell it.

  • iOS: Settings > Reset > Erase All Content & Settings
  • macOS: use FileShredder (£8) from your mac to securely erase anything that connects to your PC/laptop (not the PC/laptop itself).
    • To securely erase the PC/laptop itself - as long as you’ve been using FileVault you shouldn’t need to do this for macs. Just reinstall the macOS operating system before you get rid of your laptop by doing;
    • Restart > hold down Command+R > Reinstall macOS.
  • Android: use Dr Fone Erase app (£11.50/year)
  • Windows: use ProtectStar (£14.10) or ShredIt (free) from your PC/laptop to securely erase anything that connects to it (not the PC/ laptop itself).
    • To securely erase the PC/laptop itself, go to Start > Settings > Update & Security > Recovery, click Get started and select the appropriate options.

Please Note: when securely erasing a device, you may want to back-up the device before you begin and ensure your device remains plugged in to the power at all times.

b. Annually check that you’re not over-retaining personal data, for example;

  • Documents – if you don’t need it anymore get rid of it (or archive it with encryption). Try not to keep stuff “just in case” as we usually never actually use it.
  • Personal Media – audio, video and photos.

FOUR. Erase or archive your email.

a. Bulk select all emails older than 12 or 24 months and delete them from both your inbox and your deleted items.

b. If you are afraid you might need them (e.g. HMRC tax investigations requires 7 years retention) then archive them first before you delete them from your inbox;

  • macOS: Mail > Mailbox > Export Mailbox. Store offline on an external hard drive and protect with encryption.
  • Windows: Outlook > File > Open & Export > Import/Export > Export to a file > Outlook Data File (.pst). Store offline on an external hard drive and protect with encryption.

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