data classification policy

Is A Data Classification Policy Important And Why?

Data classification refers to the process of organizing unstructured and structured data into various categories. This practice promotes efficient use of data in an organization while facilitating risk management, compliance processes and legal discovery. Here are some reasons why a data classification policy is important.

Benefits Of Data Classification

Data security is one of the main reasons why you need a data classification policy in your organization. If you want to adequately safeguard critical data in your organization, you first need to understand the different categories of data that you have.

You also need to determine where the data resides and who can access it and make changes. More importantly, you need to understand how it can affect your business if it’s improperly modified, leaked, or destroyed.

Having a clear understanding about your organization’s threat landscape helps you to protect sensitive and critical data. A data classification policy will help you to assess risk levels and prioritize your efforts.

Implementing a data classification policy in your company will also help you to comply with regulatory frameworks and standards.

Compliance standards across the world require organizations and businesses to protect sensitive data such as health records, cardholder information, financial data and customers’ personal data.

Data discovery and classification will also help you to establish where the different types of data are located in your organization while making sure that appropriate data security controls are in place.

Also, a data classification policy will ensure that data in your organization is trackable and searchable in compliance with regulations.

Data Classification Guidelines

Every organization has different categories and types of data. Therefore, a one-size-fits-all approach might not be applicable. But basically, any data classification approach can be broken down into 3 main sections which you can then tailor to align with your company’s unique needs.

The first step is to create a data classification policy and then communicate it with all your employees. The policy should include objectives, data classification schemes, workflows, handling instructions and data owners, among others.

Once you’ve come up with a policy, you should then discover sensitive data. At this stage, you also need to establish whether your business needs a data discovery framework.

If you need a discovery framework, then you need to invest enough resources to come up with one. After identifying the sensitive and critical data in your organization as well as where it’s located you can move to the next step.

This entails reviewing your existing data security procedures and policies to determine whether there are adequate data protection measures in place. By organizing your data into various categories, you can then prioritize where to allocate your resources.

Final Thoughts On Having A Data Classification Policy

Data is quite dynamic and always on the move. Files and other pieces of information are created, shared and moved almost every hour. Therefore, every organization should have a data policy in place to ensure adequate protection of sensitive and critical data.