Is Shredding Really A Permanent Defence?

Saturday, June 20, 2015 8:39 pm, Posted by Absolute Destruction

Ever since we started this blog, we’ve been talking about the merits of permanent document destruction. For businesses and homeowners alike, it’s an essential service that can save you from costly and stressful security risks. But when a recent episode of the critically acclaimed television show, “Better Call Saul”, has one of its main characters reassemble a document from a bag of shredded material, it calls into question just how permanent mobile shredding is. The answer is, it is permanent.

In the world of the show, it isn’t. Saul, while meeting with one of his clients who lives at a luxury retirement home, uncovers that the home is overcharging its residents for everyday household items, the cost of which amounts to multiple tens of thousands of dollars. As a lawyer, Saul knows this is grounds for a class action lawsuit, yet when he alerts the retirement home of this fact, the administration locks him out of the office and begins shredding the evidence.

Saul, knowing that the false expenses and the shredding are illegal, doesn’t let the retirement home get away with anything, and he waits until they dispose of their shredded documents in the recycling bin, which is helpfully located on public property. While this unfolds very dramatically for entertainment purposes, it does touch on another important issue that we warned against back in March. This episode of “Better Call Saul” illustrates just how easy it is to take documents from a recycling bin, which is why full, un-shredded documents should never find their way in these containers. By dumpster diving, Saul is able to retrieve the bags of shredded paperwork and take it home to reassemble it.

In less than 24 hours and with the help of his older brother, Saul is able to piece together a damning document that proves more than just the false charges. A medical bills reveals the retirement home conducted illicit interstate medical commerce, and their misconduct is worthy of a multi-million dollar Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) lawsuit.

What took these two characters less than a day to accomplish makes for good television, but it’s just that – fiction. In real life, shredding provides a much better security against dumpster divers – whether they’re good intentioned lawyers or not. A single garbage bag full of a shredded paper can contain over fifty different documents, each of which are cut into numerous pieces. To put them back together again, you’re look at a bunch of different variables, including the shape of the rip, marks on the paper, and paper type for each single piece – making it the world’s hardest jigsaw puzzle.

In 2012, The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) hosted a competition to see if a team of computer scientists could reconstruct just five paper documents. The winning team managed to create an algorithm that considered the variables to automatically suggest which pieces would mostly match each other. From there, the pieces were reassembled by hand. Though ultimately successfully, it wasn’t easy, and the captain of the winning team said their success was due to the limited nature of the competition. Had they been required to reassemble more than just five documents, like a full bag of shredded paper, it would have taken countless years of work – and that’s with computer assistance!

Which is why, when you welcome our bonded mobile shredders into your home or business, you can trust that whatever you shred is permanently destroyed. Not only does our shredding make your documents nigh on impossible to reassemble, our service representatives deliver your shredded paperwork immediately to a secure recycling facility, where it will be chopped, heated, cleaned, bleached, and repurposed.

Not even fictional lawyers can mess with this process; our mobile document destruction service is permanent, which means not a single one of your documents can be reassembled and used without your permission. Just give us a call, and we’ll help you start shredding.

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