There are a lot of people out there claiming to offer Department of Defense (DOD) approved or authorized paper shredders. Many claim that the National Security Administration (NSA) endorses certain brands or models of shredders. Is this true? Do certain departments of the military really back or endorse certain paper shredders? The short answer is yes and no.
What it all boils down to is that the National Security Administration / Central Security Services (NSA/CSS) has come up with a list of Level 6 shredders approved for top secret and high security shredding. This list really does exist, however, the National Security Administration does not endorse any particular brand or model of shredder. The exact name of this list is NSA/CSS Evaluated Products List (EPL) for High Security Crosscut Paper Shredders. The list is referred to as NSA/CSS Specification 02-01.
The NSA has this to say about the list, “The Evaluated Products List (EPL) contains a listing of high security crosscut paper shredders that have been evaluated by the National Security Agency (NSA) or its designee and meet the performance requirements of NSA/CSS Specification 02-01, High Security Crosscut Paper Shredders. Inclusion of a product in the EPL is not an endorsement by NSA or the U.S. Government.”
Many military and government entities, including the Department of Defense, use the NSA/CSS list for finding paper shredders. There is no circulated DOD approved list of shredders. The Department of Defense does not endorse or back any paper shredder. The military does not endorse any brand or model of shredder either. If you see a shredder branded as DOD approved, you can rest assured that it is marketing jargon. The term NSA approved is a true label as long as it follows the approved NSA/CSS Specification 02-01 list.
Level 6 shredders do offer the highest security a paper shredder can offer. Level 6 particles range in size from small particles to dust (1mm x 4-5mm or smaller). These particles cannot be re-assembled. They can be used to shred the most sensitive documents in existence. If UFOs really do exist, you can probably be certain the U.S. Government is using level 6 shredders to hide it. All jokes aside, level 6 shredders get the job done.
Level six shredders use cutting blades that are very complex, which feature blade fins that are very close together. Because of the amount of these blades, level 6 shredders are not recommended for high-volume shredding. They typically shred anywhere from 1-10 sheets at a time, depending on the model. Because these shredders are so intricate, it is also recommended that they be oiled on a regular basis.
Security levels 1-5 are defined by the DIN 32757 (Deutsche Industrial Norm). This is a German organization that defines various measurement standards. Security level 6 is defined by the U.S. government and is not approved or defined under DIN 32757.
High security paper shredders are not for everyone. Most offices, schools and other organizations do not require or need such high security. Most organizations will get plenty of security from a level 3 to level 4 paper shredder.