Why you should always shred your printer ribbon securely after use
If you don't you're at risk of a data breach
GDPR brought in much stricter rules around the use, storage and sharing of personal data, or ‘personally identifiable information’
If you print your own ID cards, visitor badges or any other kind of plastic cards that include personal data on a direct-to-card printer, you may not be aware that the ribbon retains all of the information after the card has been printed.
How Direct-to-Card Printers work
Direct-to-card printers are those that print directly onto the plastic card – you may have a Magicard Pronto or 300 for example, a Evolis Zenius, HID Fargo or Javelin.
The way that printer ribbons work is that they literally ‘spool’ along the length of the ribbon each time you print a card.
They print the personal details required from one section of the ribbon, then wind onto the next section, leaving a record behind of the card that’s just been printed.
Make sure you have a plan in place to ensure the information on your card printer ribbon is deleted effectively.
There are a few ways to do this:
1. Pull out the used printer ribbon and manually shred it.
If you choose to go this way, make it part of the printing process, with an audit trail to follow. Capture the name of the person shredding it, and the date. GDPR requires you to maintain records of your processing activities and show they have been followed.
If you currently use a company to recycle your other office waste, they may also be able to recycle your printer ribbons and provide you with a certificate to confirm it has been shredded securely.
2. Purchase a Printer Ribbon Shredder
If you’re printing thousands of cards and are regularly going through multiple ribbons, it could be worth investing in a Ribbon Shredder – particularly if you’re printing in a location that isn’t your own, e.g. at a conference.
The IDP Smart-BIT Ribbon Shredder has been specially designed to securely destruct used ID card printer ribbons.
This innovative shredder uses a unique twist and cut motion to slice your used printer ribbon up into confetti-like particles, obliterating any personal information.
At around £500 it isn’t a cheap option, but when you consider that GDPR fines are regularly up in the thousands, it could be a worthwhile investment.
3. Do away with the ribbon altogether
Another way to get around the problem – or rather not cause it in the first place – is to use rewritable cards.
Rewritable cards don’t need ribbons to print. Instead they use thermal imaging and heat from the card printer to ‘transfer’ the required detail onto the card. They then use the same thermal imaging to erase the information on the card when you’re finished with it, ready for the next time.
In fact, you can erase and reprint the same card up to 500 times.
This makes rewritable cards ideal for temporary use, but not for anything you need to last for any length of time. You don’t get a brilliant quality of print with rewritable cards or any real durability, and they only ‘print’ in one colour, generally black or blue.
Also, the cards are expensive – instead of around £7 for 100, you’re looking at over £80 for 100.
And let’s not forget that you need a plastic card printer with rewritable technology in the first place – this is by no means standard in all models.
All Magicard printers come with rewritable technology included as standard.
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