Data Classification: Why it is required:
We need to identify what data needs to be secured. Data classification can address this issue by allowing IT and cybersecurity teams to continuously identify sensitive data and apply security controls based on their classification labels.
We need to identify the sensitive data and do efforts to safeguard the same. In this cybersecurity manager allocate resources wisely and optimize security and compliance costs. Data classification plays a key role in providing a complete overview of data and its location within an organization that helps cybersecurity teams in protecting it.
What is Data Classification?
It is a process that aims to ensure an adequate level of protection for sensitive data. This classification must be based on the criticality, value, and legal requirements that involve this data with an initial goal to mitigate data leakage or improper access due to the lack of identification of this information. In addition, the classification process makes it easier to locate and retrieve data, which is crucial when it comes to risk management, compliance, data security, or adapting to regulations such as GDPR and PCI DSS compliance.
Another advantage of data classification is that it eliminates unnecessary data, optimizes the maintenance of digital data archives, and reduces management costs. For years, data classification was purely a user-driven process. However, organizations today have options to automate the classification. For new data created by users, organizations can establish methods that allow users to classify the documents they create, send, or modify. If desired, they can also classify older data or choose to have it phased out as unclassified.
Thus, data classification is the cornerstone in the information management system that minimizes the risk of data leakage.
How to classify Data:
To protect your most valuable asset, data, you need to know what type of data it is and where it is located. As organizations possess several types of critical data, it becomes essential to classify them. Once the data is classified, you can apply the appropriate measures for its protection according to its category.
As a rule, a three to four-level distinction is made. A pragmatic approach, followed by most companies, provides the following classification:
- Public data – This data is accessible to everyone, even outside the company. For instance, the information that is present on the public website on the Internet. The address, the credo, or the advertising brochures fall into this category.
- Internal data – It is only accessible to the company’s employees. So, only a company’s own employees (and perhaps selected partner companies) can access them. These can be, for example, telephone directories, instructions, or general strategy documents.
- Confidential data – These kinds of data are only accessible to a limited number of employees. As a rule, this is information that is decisive for the vitality of a company. For example, payrolls and employee credentials are only accessible to the Human Resources department. The publication of these is sometimes even regulated by law, and a violation of the regulations could have legal consequences.
- Sensitive data – It consists of the data with highest level of security. These are selectively and exclusively accessible to certain defined individuals. Such information is directly responsible for the vitality of the company. For example, this is the customer information of a bank possessing accounts data. Only the responsible account manager knows who can be assigned to the numbered accounts. Leakage of this information can damage the business relationship directly and permanently.