Unshredding is all about putting together the bits and pieces of shredded documents. Some of us tend to think that shredding is a finality in itself and this turns out to be the truth some of the time. There are many types of shredder and they are all different from one another, for example the personal shredders do not operate with the same amount of efficiency that the industrial shredders do and as a result this gives rise to the possibility that any such documents processed by personal shredders can be reconstructed. On shredding, the pieces tend to stick together thus making it all the more easily to reconstruct. In addition, if the documents are shredded with the text not perpendicular to the blades, the text would still be legible on the thin strips of ‘noodles’ as they come out of the shredder.
Trying to recover shredded documents is something that has been attempted at since the early days of shredding. Back then,unshredding was all done manually. When the Iranians revolted against the Shah and took over the US embassy many sensitive documents were shredded by the Americans. The Iranians made use of the local carpet weavers to manually rebuild such documents that had been processed in this manner. Many a sensitive document was recovered in this manner which the Iranians later released in book form titled “Documents from the US espionage Den”. On account of this, today the US embassy utilizes pulverizing, pulping and chemical decomposition for destroying such sensitive documents.
Machine shredded paper is by and larger unrecoverable and is confetti to a large extent. But with the help of modern computing, the reassembling of such shredded documents is speeded up. What this means, is that the computer would end up scanning both the sides of the fragment, front and back and then are placed together as determined by the computer. In May 2007, a team of German scientists in Berlin had announced that they had developed a digital system to read and piece together all the torn fragments together, one that does unshredding. The engineers hope that the software scanners and system does not take about 5 years to do so even after taking into account the fragments different sizes and shapes, the durability and the varying paper textures, the assortment of the printing used [from handwriting to dot matrix] and the ranges of the edges [ from sharp ones to ragged and handmade]. According to Jon Schneider, the project manager, “the numbers are tremendous. If you imagine putting a jigsaw puzzle at home, you may have a thousand pieces and a picture of what it is supposed to be like. Here, we have millions of pieces and no idea as to what they should look like in the end”.
Robert Johnson of the national association for Information destruction had said that there was an every growing demand for document reconstruction these days. Many companies are currently offering commercial document reconstruction or unshredding as a premium service. When shredding documents, for effective security one should always process the documents in such a way that the lines of text are perpendicular to the blades of the shredder. For example, when the Enron officials shredded the Enron documents, they ended up doing it in the wrong way and as a result they were quite easy to reconstruct for the government officials. At the moment, there is a huge operation to utilize this reconstruction process and recover the shredded archives of the Stasi, the dreaded East German secret police. Of the “millions of shredded paper that the Stasi threw into garbage bags in the final days before the fall of the wall in 1989” about 300 of the 16,000 bags have been recovered and that alone took about three dozen people some three years to do it. At the moment, the German government is seriously thinking of using modern computerized methods for this task.
The problem with residential shredders, not related to unshredding, is that they have been known to cause an injury every now and then. On account of their ease of operations, these kinds of shredders are becoming all the more common. Even if they come with narrow openings, the cutting wheels of these kinds of shredders still pose quite a sufficient risk to pets and small children. As some of these types can be left standing in the “stand by” mode, the shredding process would start automatically if anything were inserted into the feed slot while in this mode. So in order to reduce the risk to one’s pets and children, all that we would have to do is to unplug the shredder when not utilizing it.
Professional shredding companies like Shredex, part of the Florida paper shredding service, appreciate all these risks and take optimum care to make sure that your documents are destroyed. With privacy being a main concern these days and in relation to your business, you should avail yourselves of the services of a professional company like shredex to shred anything and everything that is not needed and do this in a professional manner. Shredex, a part of the Florida paper shredding service does just that.