Data Classification Policy: What It Is and Why It’s Important

managed IT provider in san jose Data classification

managed IT provider in san jose Data classificationEvery year, businesses face cybercrime attacks as many as 16,856 times. How can you protect your company from being one of them?

The safety of your organization’s data is essential, and implementing the right strategy is imperative to minimize the risk of a security breach.

The solution? A data classification policy.

Data classification ensures the right people are using your organization’s data in the right ways. In every business, there is sensitive information and protecting it essential. By implementing a data classification policy, you will be able to monitor and safeguard valuable data.

Here is what you need to know about data classification and why it’s a vital part of your organization:

Data Classification Policy 101

What exactly is data classification? In simple terms, it’s the process of organizing your company’s data into categories based on the level of risk. In other words, you’re separating public information from valuable, highly sensitive material that requires restricted access.

So, how do you do this?

Here are a few essential steps:

Establish Data Categories

Begin by determining formal classification categories. Here is a brief guideline:

  • Public – Information such as marketing material that can be freely distributed to the public
  • Internal – Organization charts, sales strategies, and other information that should be available to employees but not to the public
  • Confidential – Human Resources documents such as employee reviews, vendor contracts, and other sensitive data
  • Restricted – High-risk material such as credit card information, social security numbers, and more that could severely affect the business if compromised

Once established, there should be strict guidelines about how to handle each category, which is where a data classification policy comes into play. Your entire organization should be well-aware of which documents should be handled with extra care and attention.

Determine Data Locations

Once your data is organized into categories, it’s imperative to decide where each should be stored. Cloud-based services are convenient, but which material is safe enough to be stored there? What about mobile devices — which information should be accessed there? A managed IT service provider can layout the proper protocols with your team to get the right information in the right place.

It is necessary to incorporate a safe process of saving and storing sensitive material to reduce the risk of a security breach.

Assign Impact Levels

What happens if the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of certain data is compromised? Along with labeling data in terms of categories, it is essential to assign impact levels as well. Doing so helps you determine the potential impact of various data on organizations or individuals if a breach occurs.

Impact levels should be determined based on the following:

Low – If data in this category is compromised, the potential impact on the organization or individuals is low (usually public information)

Moderate – The impact will be moderate if data in this category is compromised (usually confidential data)

High – The impact is high if compromised, often resulting in asset damage, financial issues, and more (typically restricted information)

Delegate Roles 

Part of your data classification policy includes assigning roles. Here’s a brief breakdown:

Data owner – Responsible for the security of a set of information and determines how it’s classified.

Data custodian/Managed IT Professional – Responsible for the storage and protection of the data.

Data user – The end-user who uses the data to perform job duties.

Designating roles ensures proper authorization of sensitive material throughout your organization.

Why Is Data Classification So Important?

Data classification comes with its benefits. Here is why your organization should consider a data classification policy:

Long-Term Security

Implementing a data classification policy is a surefire way to protect valuable information in the long run.

Once a strategy is established and accepted by your organization, you can have peace of mind that every document is sent through the proper channels and treated with the appropriate care level.

No matter your business, you need to be able to locate specific data, determine why it’s sensitive material, and decide which users should have access. A data classification policy ensures you’re able to do so.

You Are in Control

Certain data should have certain restrictions, and a data classification policy allows you to put them in place.

By establishing categories for various types of data, you can set protocols in place that ensure their handling and security. You are able to designate who can view, access, alter, or delete sensitive information.

You Are Prepared

If a security breach occurs, you will be prepared for the impact and know who to contact. A data classification policy gives you the ability to react to any issue that arises, no matter which type of data is compromised.

The bottom line? Your data drives your business, and you need a proper plan in place to protect it.

Data Classification Is Vital, No Matter the Size of Your Business

Do small businesses need to focus on a data classification policy as well? Absolutely. In fact, 48% of small business employees have access to too much data. Moreover, 80% of companies do now know where data is located.

Can you imagine the detrimental effect that would have on your business?

Data classification increases not only the security of sensitive material but also employee awareness. When employees follow regulations, it is easier to keep track of where data is being stored, who has access, and who to turn to when a security breach occurs.

IT Services Are Ready to Help Protect Your Data

Are you ready to protect your organization’s data? A managed IT service provider in San Jose can help get you started.

No matter how large or small your business, a data classification policy is essential for protecting your most valuable data. Implementing the right strategy keeps your business on track while ensuring your most imperative information is kept safe.

Contact us today for a one-hour consultation to learn more.

Sagacent Technologies offers technology management and support, including proactive/preventative maintenance, onsite and offsite data back-ups, network and security audits, mobility solutions, disaster planning and emergency business resumption services. The company serves clients of 10 to 150 employees within the Silicon Valley region.