Data classification

What is data classification?

Data classification is the process by which data is categorized based on various parameters such as sensitivity and vulnerability. Data classification in IT security is vital to ensure that critical data is protected with appropriate levels of security.

Sensitive data classification is one of the primary requirements of the GDPR, CCPA, and other compliance standards. Numerous regulatory bodies mandate that sensitive personal data be protected against accidental loss, destruction, and damage. This can be done effectively only if this data is identified and classified appropriately.

Importance of data classification

Data discovery helps identify what kind of information is present in your data stores, where it is located, and who has access to this data. Data classification, on the other hand, helps categorize this data based on its sensitivity and vulnerability. Data classification also helps:

  • Maintain multiple legal compliance requirements.
  • Implement security measures based on the sensitivity of data.
  • Optimize business activities by improving the decision-making process.
  • Assess risks associated with files and mitigate them.

Data classification types

The two basic types of data classification include:

  • Manual
  • Automated

Data is categorically classified based on the below-mentioned parameters:

  • Content-based: The contents of the files are reviewed and inspected to identify and classify information.
  • Context-based: The metadata of the file such as the application, location, and creator, is taken into account and suitable tags are applied.
  • User-based: This is a manual classification method, which relies entirely on the user to classify data.

Data classification levels

The various levels in which data is classified depends on the organization and how it wishes to handle its data. The most common classification scheme consists of three levels:

  • Public: Data classified as public is freely disclosed and does not have any access controls in place.
  • Private or internal: Private data has minimal security restrictions in place and is intended for internal use within the organization.
  • Restricted: Files classified as restricted are also known as sensitive files and consist of highly sensitive internal data. Stringent access controls are put in place to ensure that these files are secure.

Data classification examples

Data type Classification Contains
Low sensitivity Public Webpages, blog posts, and company contact information
Medium sensitivity Private or internal Company policy information, internal documents, and correspondence
High sensitivity Restricted Personally identifiable information, credit card numbers, and health information

How can DataSecurity Plus help classify your data?

DataSecurity Plus offers a data classification tool that can identify files containing restricted data, assess how much threat they pose to the organization, and list users who own high-risk files. The data discovery and classification tool scans files to check for personally identifiable information, payment card information, protected health information, and more and allows you to classify files to enforce appropriate security and access measures for them.

The data classification tool also includes the following features:

  • Classifying files by creating profiles for different file types based on the number of occurrences and risk scores based on data laws.
  • Anticipating potential data risks by analyzing files with highly sensitive data.
  • Configuring alerts to track files that violate data protection laws like the GDPR, PCI DSS, and more.
  • Prioritizing the security of payment card information with the card data discovery tool.
  • Identifying users with high risk scores or the highest number of data violations and notifying them to immediately address the risk.

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