I have been selling shredders, disintegrators and degaussers for over 18 years. Before becoming a salesman, I spent twenty years in the US Air Force. During my time in the Air Force I had a Top Secret clearance. This gave me the unique qualification and distinction of being a salesman that actually worked with government classified documents and destruction equipment.
I travel throughout the mid-Atlantic region speaking to military professionals concerning the new and existing regulations for destroying classified materials. I have used shredders during my career in the Air Force but I never really thought about the paper I was destroying and how it related to compromising the information if I didn’t shred it properly. I wished I would have had someone to brief me on the importance of securing classified information back in my day.
In 1935, Adolf Ehinger manufactured one of the first paper shredders based on a hand crank pasta maker. Later he marketed his shredders to government agencies and financial institutions. His company, EBA Maschinenfabrik, manufactured the first cross-cut paper shredders in 1959. This company is now known as EBA Krug & Priester GmbH & Co in Germany. The history of the paper shredder is fascinating and some of us can still remember the takeover of the American Embassy in Iran in 1979 where they shredded their documents using strip shredders. This wasn’t a good idea because strip shredded paper is fairly easy to reconstruct. They enlisted local carpet weavers to reconstruct the shredded documents. The Supreme Court in 1988 declared that when you throw away your trash, its fair game for anyone to take it. This created a demand for paper shredders in the civilian market. Then after the Iranian crisis; the US government improved its shredding techniques.
I speak about some of the history because I feel it brings today’s information in focus by learning about some of the history of how and why we need to treat classified information so seriously. I speak to security professionals that have just been appointed as new security officers. Usually, these individuals are tasked with this responsibility as an additional duty to their already busy duties they must perform to complete their missions.
During my briefings, I take off my “sales cap” and discuss the information in an informative speech rather than a “sales pitch.” I speak from experience and let them know the proper ways to destroy the information they come in contact with everyday. This includes a multitude of different types of information ranging from paper, DVDs to electronic media. I talk about the latest NSA regulations and answer questions about these ever changing and sometimes confusing rules.
I take pride in conveying my 38 years dealing with classified information to people in the security field including my 20 years in the US Air Force as well as my 18 years with Security Engineered Machinery.