Data Destruction Disasters

We take a look at the worst shredding and destruction disasters in this blog.

Those who work in an office or large organisation will know that it is easy to become swamped in data and documents. Data destruction is wise – whether they’re digital or paper, it’s likely that you have regular clear outs to get rid of documentation which is no longer needed. However, depending on how the data is disposed of, it could go wrong. Unfortunately, too many businesses are falling victim to improper data disposal, and this is reflected in statistics from 2016 and 2017.

According to the Information Commissioner’s Office, in 2017, there was a 22% increase in the loss or theft of paperwork, which was largely caused by a data breach in the heath sector. A year earlier, figures totalled at the highest volume of data breaches with the healthcare sector statistics at 40% (although in 2017, the new figures were at 41%), 10% in the local government and 9% for general businesses. The Information Commissioner’s Office suggested that these figures were a result of problems with paper records; in the same year, thirty-six instances of loss or theft of paperwork were recorded as well as forty five cases where confidential work was either faxed or posted to the wrong recipient.

It may seem hard to believe, but unfortunately, such breaches are common in everyday business; recently the Greater Manchester Police were fined £150,000 after video footage of interviews with victims of violent crimes was lost in the post. Digital documents are also at risk of a data destruction disaster. Improper handling accounted for 986 incidents in 2016 –45% of the total stats. This figure includes 75 incidents of insecure disposal and 337 of loss or theft. Another area at risk is hardware. From laptops to hard drives, even these should be disposed of through an organised and reputable company, or they may be subject to theft, and personal details stolen.

Data destruction can also go wrong if a company incorrectly disposes of the documents, by simply dumping them. In February, truckloads of trade waste were dumped near Madeley in Staffordshire and villagers told The Sentinel the waste allegedly included shredded paperwork from councils and the NHS in Cheshire. The scourge of fly tipping is on the increase. A recent Defra report for 2015/16 found there were 4,719 reports of waste being dumped illegally across Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, costing councils £243,926 to clear. Organised criminal gangs who offer to dispose of rubbish at knockdown prices are believed to be behind ‘industrial scale’ dumping.

However, it’s important to remember that, as a point of law waste creators are liable for their waste regardless of who they engage to collect and dispose of it. To avoid engaging waste contractors operating illegally organisations should complete basic due diligence. In the case of confidential waste due diligence is even more important than the environmental duty of care. A failure to dispose of sensitive waste properly can lead to penalties of up to £500k and reputational loss that in extreme cases can force organisations out of business.

In order to avoid the disasters of data destruction, it is imperative to use a reputable company to destroy data. Here at Topwood, we guarantee a safe, secure disposal, offering an ‘on-site service’, so you can see the data as it is being destroyed. We also provide a certificate proving the securing disposal. If you need to get in touch to access our services, contact us here: Contact us