With the ever-increasing availability of information at the tips of our fingers, a threat to our security is always on the rise. Although the vast majority of sensitive information is stored digitally these days, dumpster divers – those who rummage through your trash trying to gather valuable information (or, in the digital age, those who collect data by accessing or “hacking” restricted areas of the web) – still pose a considerable risk to our personal information. And, while many people invest in cybersecurity measures to protect their digital information, we often forget that physical information is in jeopardy too.
To add insult to injury, dumpster diving is technically legal in the United States. According to FindLaw, a 1988 Supreme Court case (California v. Greenwood) ruled that once you have thrown something out or knowingly exposed it to the public, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy for that trash, and therefore, it is not protected by the fourth amendment. In layman’s terms, this means that if you throw out your bills and bank statements, anybody who wants to go through your garbage can legally retrieve those documents.
In 2008, Jim Stickley, a professional dumpster diver who was hired by businesses to identify flaws in their security systems, published a book called “The Truth About Identity Theft.” He explained how easy it was to find out where top executives of companies lived, delve through their trash, get them to install malware on their computers or pay fake bills, and access enough information to assume their identity or find highly sensitive corporate information. Stickley also debunked the common misconception that recycling documents is safer than sending them to a landfill and provided suggestions for destroying information from a computer’s hard drive. A shocking excerpt from his book can be found here.
One of the best ways to keep dumpster divers from gaining access to your confidential physical documents is actually quite simple – destroy your business’s confidential data. Shred the backup tapes, hard drives, CD’s, DVD’s and USB memory drives; recycle computers and servers and your peace of mind is guaranteed.
Corporate Destruction Solutions (CDS) is dedicated to keeping your information secure in the most effective way possible – by destroying it. We provide our extensive e-waste disposal services nationwide. For more information on our services and how to protect and destruct your sensitive information, give us a call at 877-868-0041 or fill out the online form.