Information Classification – Why does it matter?

Information classification is a very important process that every organization should utilise, regardless of the size. You may think, why does information classification matter? Failing to classify information can lead to many organizational difficulties.
Unclassified information is improperly organised which means there is no way to ensure that information is actually being safeguarded as it needs to be. The result is information that sometimes may be insecure and other times might be too secure. Being as secure as it needs to be is always the aim, but being too secure can hinder day-to-day processes.
For those reasons information classification is become one of the important priorities for all organizations.

Definition

Information classification is the process of sorting information in different categories.
Various computing devices navigate through folders such as document, music and pictures. In the context of business, financial document shouldn’t be mixed up with sales and marketing campaigns, instead they should be kept separated in dedicated folders where the appropriate team can find them easily.

Classification

There are different kinds of classification mechanisms available in the industry. Most often, information gets classified based on its sensitivity level, characteristics (e.g. type of information, contents etc.). The most common level of information classification is,

Importance of Information Classification

1. Consistency And Improved Understanding

Everyone aware of,
  1. The level of sensitivity of information
  2. The level of risks
  3. The consequences if it is leaked

2. Risk Mitigation Better Security For What Matters

If an organization knows which information is at high risk or medium/low risk, it adopts the least privilege principle and ensures that only authorised employees have access to it. This way, the organization can limit the access to Personally Identifiable Information and intellectual property. It also helps to reduce information loss and unauthorised disclosure of information by ensuring that it stored in a dedicated and secure location.
Sensitive information will be more secure by reducing the risk of theft and leaks.

3. Insurance Regulatory Compliance

Identifying information/data govern by GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA, PSI DSS and other current as well as future regulations is one of the main benefits of information classification.
If any organization is not managing its information/data according to these regulations, the organization can be in big trouble. In this kind of scenario, the organization has to pay a big amount of penalty/fines which cause reputational damage.

4. Efficiency And Optimization

An organization can enable efficient access to content based on types and usage.
To build on the governance and compliance point, it will enable an organization to pass compliance audits quicker and cheaper by making it easier to identify the information/data governed by the regulations.
Information classification helps an organization to optimize different business activities by having the information labelled. It also informs the organization on the usage and location of information.

5. Better Access For What Is Needed

Non-sensitive information will be more easily accessible, reducing the red tape of steps required to access it.

6. Provide And Improve Information Protection

An organization aware of the required level of protection for each set of information by organizing information into different categories.

7. Allocation For Resources

Due to data classification, an organization will not waste any more time or money over protecting non-sensitive information or risking the loss of sensitive information.
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