“Most data classification implementations continue to be unexpectedly complex and fail to produce practical results. CISOs and information security leaders should simplify schemes, leverage tools and allow for implementation flexibility to make classification valuable for the entire organization.” -Gartner

Organizations often struggle with their data classification projects because they approach them mostly as a manual process. Classification that is inconsistently applied—meaning, a data item is classified with one classification by some users on some days, and with a different classification by the same or other users on other days—is really not useful at all.

Data classification toolsSuccessful data classification projects are well-supported with a blend of pre-built policies, processes and technical tools. While ongoing training and education initiatives are often the most important elements in implementing a data classification program, tools can assist.

Different sets of tools are available to either automate the classification or manage the manual process of classification. And while classification is an embedded functionality of many information security products, such as DLP technologies, these applications do not cover the entire need for data classification. Data governance/archive applications complete this journey.

What is data classification?

And why do governance applications implement this functionality?

The use of data classification is the organizational tool for governance applications. If you open your garage, what do you see? Most of us see a cluttered, catch-all mess of stuff. People look at unorganized stuff and think, “There is no way to effectively go through this without a lot of effort.” Look at the image below. Is this you? Can you look at your laptop or PC and easily find your sensitive of risk associated data?

Data classification: clutterA proper classification tool has purpose-built policies that cover all areas of compliance-type data. Examples of compliance data are SEC, FINRA, Sarbanes Oxley, Dodd/Frank, PHI, PII, HIPPA, CCPA, and GDPR. Many of these policies regulate and restrict the use of personalized data. Others keep track of data on a state or federal level, including ITAR (used for firearm terminology and weaponry) and CJIS (criminal justice information like rap sheets).

These data types in most cases are regulated and need to be not only protected but retained in a manner that is safe and automatically expires over time depending on the type of data’s lifecycle. Data governance applications streamline these types of data and help organize the different compliance data types. In the end, your data would look like the image below.

Data classification: organizedCommon usage for data classification tools

Legal and eDiscovery Requests

Private and public companies and state, federal, and education legal teams are tasked with responsibilities like search, review, process, and produce requests, depending on the case brought for or against their organization. Classification helps these teams find and redact data more efficiently.

Public Records Requests (PRR)

These are used by anyone in the public looking to find data about a state agency or program; anyone in the public can submit a request. The agency would then search for this data based on the request (custodians, subject, keywords or phrases). A proper classification tool can help filter out the relevant vs. non-relevant data, and any sensitive data that might need redaction like social security numbers before producing the relevant data to the requester.

Subject Access Requests (SAR)

A request brought against an agency based on a specific subject. In this case, all data pertaining to a requested subject is to be produced to the requester.

These requests have a cost associated with them. Classification helps the organization responsible for the request to put an item count and a cost to the requester. If the requester agrees to the cost, then the data is produced with a payment for the time it took. The average cost per item is about $8.00 U.S. per item.

At the end of the day, Aparavi will make these organizational requests with our customers more efficient, provide a higher confidence level of finding everything, and allow our customers to be accurately providing the right costs to these requesters for producing the data. Classification of data will help everyone be more organized. Learn more by scheduling a consultation with one of our data specialists.