Why a shredding Program is better than your office shredder.

It’s an established security practice that shredding documents is the best way to destroy confidential paperwork and materials. But did you know that how you shred your documents is equally important? While you may think the paper shredder you bought from the local office supply store is keeping you secure, it might not be cutting it…literally.

Here are some key points to consider when evaluating shredding equipment:
•Type of cut. Home office shredders typically shred documents in vertical strips. This cut is substantially less secure than a crosscut or confetti shred.

•Office materials. Some lower-quality shredders cannot accommodate paper clips, staples or bound documents so your employees must take the time to prep each document prior to shredding.

•Multimedia. Credit cards, CDs, hard drives and computer disks must be shredded to maintain security and a less expensive shredder usually doesn’t have the power to shred these tougher materials.

•Capacity. Budget shredders can’t handle multiple sheets of paper at once or have a low capacity – meaning it could take a while to shred a large document.

•Longevity. An inexpensive shredder is likely to fail under the usage demands of an office because most units simply weren’t designed for that type of wear and tear.

Considering the limitations of a common office shredder and the time and expense associated with operating and maintaining it, a budget shredder may not be saving you money. More importantly, if your shredder isn’t destroying materials in such a way that makes them impossible to reconstruct, your company’s reputation and information security could be at risk.

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To shred or not to shred

We’ve heard common questions and concerns regarding document shredding, and whether or not it’s a necessity for businesses today. We’ve summarized our responses to those common questions below to debunk those myths.

Four common document shredding myths:
1.No one looks through my trash so why would I shred? You might be surprised to learn that combing through trash or dumpster diving is a routine activity for many thieves, and it is considered so profitable, it’s been a tactic for some organized crime rings.

2.I store my records securely so I don’t need to shred. While securely storing your records is a sound security practice, both the United States and Canada have laws that mandate how long businesses should retain records before destroying them.

3.You can’t recycle shredded paper. Shredded paper can indeed be recycled and used for a variety of consumer products.

4.My company is too small for a shredding service. Considering a 2010 EPA report found the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper per year; your office is creating more paperwork and waste than you’d imagine.

Armed with a better understanding of these myths, you can begin to separate fact from fiction to better tackle your document shredding solution.

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Close call..

Last month a street sweeper in Aurora, Colorado, found hundreds of dental patient records near a dumpster behind a shopping center. The records contained names, addresses, social security numbers and birth dates of patients. What a field day it could have been for identity thieves!

While police were able to trace the documents back to a dental practice located nearly 20 miles away, the owners of the practice had no idea how the documents ended up in Aurora.

So did the documents blow off a recycling truck? Was an employee careless putting out the garbage? Were the documents stolen in the first place?

It should be none of the above.

Information protection is the law

In the U.S. (and Canada), laws prohibit medical practices from putting sensitive documents such as patient information into the garbage. All confidential information must be protected – and completely destroyed – when no longer needed.

Shred Everything!

The most secure method of document destruction is shredding. Once paper has been properly shredded, it can’t be reconstructed again. (Keep in mind that identity thieves have been known to painstakingly put hand-torn documents back together again.)

Information security checklist

To protect against security breaches in any type of business, Shred-it, a world-leading information security company, recommends:
•Stay up-to-date about privacy laws and legislation in your industry.
•Be compliant with all the rules.
•Implement a shred-all policy in your workplace.

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How secure is the Hospitality Industry?

After coming back from a fantastic destination wedding in the Bahamas, I asked myself– How secure is the hospitality industry?

Most of us associate the hospitality industry with fun activities such as dining out at your favorite restaurant, vacationing at a beachfront hotel, or shopping at your favorite clothing store. But, there’s another side to the hospitality industry that you need to be aware of – how secure is your confidential information at these establishments?

Not very secure, according to a study that revealed more than 919 million records had been compromised over the last six years!

From point of sale systems such as ATM and Interact machines to guest paperwork, you’re providing plenty of sensitive information to hotels, restaurants and bars.

For hospitality managers and directors, it’s critical to first understand your legal obligations to protect your guests’ privacy and then evaluate how well the Security Policies you have in place are protecting your guests and your business.

The hospitality industry as a whole accounts for 85% of information breaches and investigations.
57% Food & Beverage industry
18% Retail industry
10% Hospitality industry

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Why is Data security Important

In any company it is important to pay attention to the details. Understanding new legislation, developing compliant policies and responding to day-to-day questions and issues is enough to keep anyone busy for more than 40 hours each week.

Let’s look at the medical and healthcare profession specifically. HIPAA legislation and ensuing rules and regulations have been enacted to protect patients’ privacy, but you have to wonder whether the rules are really being followed when you read articles such as, “28 Health Data Breaches in the Past 6 Months.”

Published on September 2, 2011, the article details 28 security breaches with a few notable ones including:

•A staff member at a VA Medical Center in Kentucky took home his laptop without authorization that contained the medical records of 1,900 patients.
•The physical medical and billing records of roughly 1,200 patients went missing during an office move at Fairview Health Services in Minneapolis.
•Southern California Medical-Legal Consultants unknowingly had medical files of almost 300,000 Californians unsecured on the internet.

While the causes of the breaches vary from carelessness to theft, when added together, this six-month period produced breaches that will potentially compromise the security of hundreds of thousands of innocent patients!

That is why it is so important for your company to uphold your security policies.

Here are a few best practices every healthcare provider should implement:

•Hire a director of compliance or legal counsel who can provide guidance and internal audits.
•Restrict or manage employees’ access to sensitive patient information.
•Designate an annual budget for security management systems.
•Train employees on current HIPAA legislation and perform audits to ensure it is followed.
•Develop strict security policies for any employee who uses laptop or mobile devices to access patient information.
•Destroy confidential paperwork, records and billing documents in a timely and secure manner.

With these common sense guidelines in mind, you can implement policies and build a culture of trust that makes security everyone’s responsibility.

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Identity Theft Facts

Identity theft was the #1 consumer fraud complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2009. They estimate that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year.
The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) Breach Report recorded more than 222 million potentially compromised records in 2009.
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the US, costing victims an estimated $5 billion a year. According to the ITRC, in 2009, paper-based security breaches accounted for nearly 26% of known breaches (a 46% increase from 2008).
According to Ernst & Young 2009 Global Information Security Survey, 85% of executives cited damage to reputation and brand as the most significant result of a breach.
According to the Ponemon Institute, the average total cost of a data breach in the U.S. is $6.75 million.

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Recycling Importance

Recycling is very important as waste has a huge negative impact on the natural environment.
•Harmful chemicals and greenhouse gasses are released from garbage in landfill sites. Recycling helps to reduce the pollution caused by waste.
•Habitat destruction and global warming are some the affects caused by deforestation. Recycling reduces the need for raw materials so that the rainforests can be preserved.
•Huge amounts of energy are used when making products from raw materials. Recycling requires much less energy and therefore helps to preserve natural resources.
We are Citishred are very proud of our efforts in conserving the evironment. We recycle everything we shred and destroy. Didy you know? With every full Citished truck we save:
68 Trees
28,000 Gallons of Water.
13.2 Cubic yards of landfill space.
1520 Gallons of Oil.
16,000 Kilowatts of Energy.
240 Pounds of Air Pollutants.

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10 Tips to protect your identity

Americans are facing a fierce attack on their personal and financial privacy. Shielding your private financial information with no risk of a breakdown may be impossible these days. But it’s critical to understand how your privacy can be compromised and the consequences of such a breach — and take a few simple steps to, if nothing else, better the odds in your favor. Find out how to safeguard your identity in a world of dumpster divers, mail thieves and shoulder surfers.

1. Destroy private records and statements. Shred all credit card statements, solicitations and other documents that contain private financial information. Cross-cut shredding is best so thieves can’t tape the strips back together.

2. Secure your mail. Empty your mailbox of incoming mail quickly and don’t use it for outgoing mail. If you can’t pick up your incoming mail quickly or are not home when mail is delivered consider getting a Post Office box so thieves don’t have a chance to snatch credit card pitches. Also, don’t mail outgoing bill payments and checks from home. They can be stolen from your mailbox and the payee’s name erased with solvents. Mail them from the post office or another secure location like a USPS drop box.

3. Safeguard your Social Security number. The social security number is the primary target for identity thieves because it gives them access to your credit report and bank accounts. Never carry your SS card with you, or any other card that may have your number. If your health insurance card number is your social security number, call the company and ask them to give you a new number that is not tied to anything. Don’t ever put your number on your checks.

4. Don’t leave a paper trail. Never leave ATM, credit card or gas station receipts behind.

5. Never let your credit card out of your sight. Worried about credit card skimming? Always keep an eye on your card or, when that’s not possible, pay with cash.

6. Know who you’re dealing with. Scammers often call with a great offer or a prize in order to get you to give up your personal information. Never give out your private identity or financial information unless you are sure who you are talking to. When you receive an unsolicited call, find out who they are, what company they represent and the reason for the call. If you think the request is legitimate, contact the company yourself and confirm what you were told before revealing any of your personal data.

7. Get on the DO NOT CALL list. In addition to the national Do-Not-Call registry (1-888-382-1222), you can also cut down on junk mail and opt out of credit card solicitations. Remember that you need to re-register your numbers every five years. Include every number you have-home and cell phone. Marketers are able to call cell phones now.

8. Be more defensive with personal information. Ask salespeople and others if information such as a Social Security or drivers license number is absolutely necessary. A telephone number should suffice when you are writing a check in a store. If someone does require your Social Security number, like your insurance company, ask what their privacy policy is. And request that the organization not share your information with anyone else.

9. Monitor your credit report. Everyone gets one free credit report a year. Use this benefit! Obtain and thoroughly review your credit report (available for free at Annualcreditreport.com or by calling 877-322-8228) at least once a year to look for suspicious activity. If you spot something, alert your card company or the creditor immediately.

10. Review your credit card statements carefully. Make sure you recognize the merchants, locations and purchases listed before paying the bill. If you don’t need or use department-store or bank-issued credit cards, close the accounts. It’s best to limit your credit cards to as few as possible and keep a list of your cards, your card numbers and the customer service number for each credit card company somewhere safe in your home so you can quickly and easily close accounts if you wallet is stolen or you lose a card.

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Why Outsourcing Makes Sense

Your employees face more distractions than ever in the workplace. From constantly buzzing mobile devices and cluttered email inboxes to office gossip and busy meeting calendars, it is easy for your employees to become distracted from their core responsibilities.

In fact, according to a recent survey by Workplace Options, 53% of employees report that distractions in the workplace hinder their productivity and 42% of workers either arrive early to work or stay late to avoid such distractions. Jonathan Spira, chief analyst of the economic research and advisory firm Basex, estimates that U.S. companies lose roughly $650 billion per year to workplace distractions.

Given these astonishingly high percentages and dollar amounts, what should you do to help employees become less distracted…and more productive?

One effective strategy is to minimize interruptions. In regards to electronic communications, you can implement department wide information “holidays,” where the use of email and smart phones is restricted for a specified length of time, enabling your employees to better concentrate on each discrete task. If you have enough office space, you can also designate “now” offices that cubicle employees can use on-demand if they need a quiet place to complete an assignment, make a phone call, etc.

Another way to improve productivity is to outsource tasks that drain your employees’ time and efficiency. Consider the case of in-house document shredding. In order to shred a document, your employee must stop what he/she is doing, prepare the document for shredding by removing binders or paperclips and then feed the paper through the shredder. This task may only take five minutes, but if it occurs three times during an average work day, that translates to a loss of 15 minutes per day or 75 minutes per week.

If you outsource your shredding to a reputable document destruction provider, employees simply need to discard materials in the appropriate bins and continue their work day. Employees remain focused and your company continues its culture of high security – a winning model.

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Raising the Stakes of HIPAA Compliance

As security experts, we have long understood that serious violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) can lead to costly fines and even jail time. Many professionals may believe that a misdemeanor is only punished with a warning and a fine, however the example below, will show you otherwise.

Consider the example of Huping Zhou. Zhou was working as a medical researcher at the UCLA School of Medicine in 2003. In late October 2003, Zhou received a notice that he was going to be terminated in three weeks based on his job performance (unrelated to any privacy violations). During the following three week period, Zhou accessed the organization’s electronic health records system and viewed medical records of his supervisors, co-workers and celebrities without a legitimate or authorized reason.

In April 2010, Zhou pleaded guilty to four misdemeanor counts of accessing and reading confidential medical records. As a result, he was fined $2,000 and sentenced to four months in jail. With that sentence, Zhou became the first person in the United States to receive jail time for a minor HIPAA breach.

The surprising fact for most medical and legal experts was the severity of the sentence as Zhou didn’t sell or profit by accessing this information – he only viewed it. This ruling clearly demonstrates that the legal system is serious about enforcing and punishing all types of HIPAA violations, not only ones with malicious or criminal intent.

Given the seriousness of HIPAA enforcement, what should you being doing to ensure compliance?

•Employ a security officer or manager who is responsible for maintaining and enforcing HIPAA-compliance standards.
•Train new hires on secure information handling practices that are HIPAA-compliant.
•Limit access of confidential records to only those who require it.
•Facilitate regular training sessions to keep employees up to date on HIPAA legislation.
•Develop an incident response procedure in the event of a breach.
•Dispose of confidential information securely by shredding it once retention periods are met.

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