Overview of Paper Shredder Security Levels

Paper ShreddersToday there are literally dozens of different brands of paper shredders and hundreds of different models. While there are a lot of factors to consider when purchasing a paper shredder, one option I recommend paying special attention to is the security level. The paper shredder’s security level will ultimately determine how safe and secure your shredded documents are.

Shredder security levels are based on a scale ranging from 1 to 6. This scale, excluding Level 6, is determined by DIN 32757. This is the European standard used for paper shredder security.  Security Level 6 requirements, established by the United States NSA, came out after DIN 32757 was created. Each of these security levels serve a purpose.

Security levels start off with 1, being the least secure, and end with 6, being the most secure. I will explain the pros and cons to each of these security Levels.

Paper Shredder Security Levels

Paper Shredder Security LevelsSecurity Level 1 – This level is the least secure and is rarely used for shredding sensitive information. It is typically used purely for shredding non-sensitive records or for creating padding or packaging material. This security level can be both strip cut or cross cut. These are the specific dimensions of DIN Security Level 1:

  • Strip Cut: 10.5-11.8mm
  • Cross Cut: 10.5mm x 40-80mm Cross Cut

Security Level 2 – This is the most common security level you will find in a strip cut paper shredder. This includes 1/8″ and ¼” strip cut shredders. It also includes some cross cut shredders that have larger cross cut particles. This can be used to shred a variety of material, and is hard to re-assemble, but is probably not enough security for most businesses. These are the dimensions of DIN Security Level 2:

  • Strip Cut: 3.9-5.8mm
  • Cross Cut: 7.5mm x 40-80mm

Security Level 3 – This security level is the most common used today by cross cut paper shredders in business. It is HIPAA and FACTA compliant and is good enough to shred client records, patient information, invoices, bills and other material. Material cut at a Level 3 is difficult to reassemble. This is the security level I recommend for most people. These are the dimensions of DIN Security Level 3:

  • Strip Cut: 1.9mm
  • Cross Cut: 3.9mm x 30-50mm

Security Level 4 – This is probably one of the least common security levels. It is more secure than Level 3, but not yet high enough to be considered high security. This is used by businesses and offices that want a little more security than the typical cross cut shredder, while still having a higher shred capacity than a high security shredder. These are the specifications of the DIN Security Level 4:

  • Cross Cut: 1.9mm x 15mm

Security Level 5 – Up until a few years ago this was the highest security level available and was used to shred all top-secret documents. While the Level 5 is still used to shred highly sensitive material, most government and military entities now use a Security Level 6. This security level is still commonly found and is still widely used. Particles cut at this level are near impossible to re-assemble. These are the dimensions of DIN Security Level 5:

  • Cross Cut: 0.78mm x 11mm

Security Level 6 – This is the highest security level available for a shredder. Paper cut by a Security Level 6 shredder almost looks like dust. A single sheet of letter-size paper is typically cut into 15,000+ particles. This security level is very popular for use with government and military. It is used by the U.S. Department of Defense, the NSA and many more agencies. These are the dimensions of the Security Level 6:

  • Cross Cut: 1mm x 4-5mm

Which Is Best?

The level you use will depend entirely upon what you are shredding. I can safely tell you that the Security Level 3 is considered by many experts to be the most well-rounded level for most individuals and businesses. A Security Level 3 has a good sheet capacity, can still cut paper into tiny particles and are affordable.

You can find our entire selection of paper shredders here. Please feel free to call us at 1-800-658-8788 with any questions about paper shredders.

Keith Barlow

Keith is a third generation office equipment expert. ABC Office was started by his grandfather back in 1980 and he is proud to be caring on the values that made ABC Office what it is today… unsurpassed selection, detailed information, low prices, and courteous support.

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