BY Stephen Cavey | 14 June 2021
Data is the foundation of many organizations today. It is transferred between in-house departments and shared with third parties to enhance customer experience, influence industry trends, and facilitate day-to-day function (grocery stores, banks, and gyms all process consumer data).
As mentioned in our recent blog, “What is Data Classification? A Definition & Overview,” data classification is the process of categorizing data into relevant subgroups so that it is easier to find, retrieve, and use. The data classification process involves marking or tagging data with a classification label such as “Confidential” or “Public” and simultaneously cleaning your company’s storage of redundant, trivial and obsolete data (ROT) that has been hidden and unkempt.
It is necessary to classify data regardless of whether your goals are driven by privacy regulations covering sensitive data or by security that’s focussed on any type of data within your company. Privacy driven initiatives are typically driven by compliance with regulations such as the GDPR, CCPA / CPRA and HIPAA.
Regardless of whether your classification needs are driven by privacy or security, the act of classifying data can yield other benefits. For example, a typical organization stores substantially large volumes of old data that is no longer used, or needed. A proactive classification initiative helps to uncover such data leading to a simple decision – deletion which means less data and lower risk.
There are three different ways to classify data: manual, automated and hybrid.
A data classification tool can be the catalyst to discovering and tagging unknown and hidden data, as it provides complete transparency of where your company’s various types of sensitive, confidential and publicly distributable data resides.
With 128 countries now having privacy laws and data protection legislation, knowing exactly what employees, departments and applications are creating, storing and processing files will enable stronger preparation to comply with current and future requirements as they pertain to data. For example, a health insurer may find that employees working remotely are saving files to their desktop instead of a centralized encryption solution, which could lead to a HIPAA violation. But, with detection through discovery and classification, followed by appropriate remediation actions, this would be avoidable. Understanding the whereabouts of your data also protects against the possibility of a breach because your business is able to proactively safeguard vulnerable entry points.
Furthermore, a data classification tool boosts operational efficiency and supports achieving business goals. The time employees are allocating disparate data management practices can be reinvested into other business priorities. By establishing a consistent model to label the sensitivity of all data, companies can better budget and plan the appropriate level of storage security and encryption solutions required.
And finally, properly classifying and safeguarding data simply means meeting the trust of your customers and thus, reducing the likelihood of a data breach that can result in penalties as a result of violating state, national or global compliance rules.
Classification software is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Decision-makers at your organization must be prepared to analyze whether or not data classification software is compatible with the company’s goals and existing data.
A simple starting point to consider is:
And lastly, will the software open enough to allow other platforms and processes to integrate? Data classification tools should only make the process more efficient and thorough and a key way to do this is through a long-term strategy that commits to deep integration that automates and streamlines all data-driven processes. If data classification can be automatically initiated from your other data platforms based on certain triggers, or at least completed with minimum human interaction, while also revealing security and compliance holes, your company will see a far greater return on investment as opposed to an entirely manual model.
Data classification and discovery tools reveal weak points that businesses must remediate to stay competitive and compliant in this data-saturated marketplace. Ground Labs offers Enterprise Recon PRO, a globally recognized solution for data discovery with data classification and metadata tagging capabilities. It is able to detect over 300 data types, it is also agile, which is key to the ever-changing compliance and cybersecurity landscape.
If you are ready to find, classify and harness the power of your company’s data, schedule a discovery call with one of Ground Labs’ experts today.
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