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Information Classification in Information Security

Last Updated : 28 Mar, 2023
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Information classification is a process used in information security to categorize data based on its level of sensitivity and importance. The purpose of classification is to protect sensitive information by implementing appropriate security controls based on the level of risk associated with that information.

There are several different classification schemes that organizations can use, but they generally include a few common levels of classification, such as:

  • Public: Information that is not sensitive and can be shared freely with anyone.
  • Internal: Information that is sensitive but not critical, and should only be shared within the organization.
  • Confidential: Information that is sensitive and requires protection, and should only be shared with authorized individuals or groups.
  • Secret: Information that is extremely sensitive and requires the highest level of protection, and should only be shared with a select group of authorized individuals.
  • Top Secret: Information that if disclosed would cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security and access to this information is restricted to a very small number of authorized individuals with a need-to-know.
  • Information classification also includes a process of labeling the information with the appropriate classification level and implementing access controls to ensure that only authorized individuals can access the information. This is done through the use of security technologies such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and encryption.

Information classification is a crucial aspect of information security as it helps to ensure that sensitive information is protected and only accessible by authorized individuals, which can help organizations to protect their sensitive information, maintain compliance with relevant regulations, and keep their data and systems safe from cyber threats.

How to Order Data?

Great data grouping goes about as an establishment to keep your business information coordinated, open and helpful. It is a complicated and robust undertaking to group data in high volume, assortment, and pertinence.

Most organizations follow the accompanying moves toward make things more straightforward:

Break down and grasp data resources and allocate the degree of aversion to every last one of them.

The initial step of data characterization is doling out worth to every data resource, contingent upon the gamble of misfortune or damage in the event that the data gets uncovered. In view of significant worth, data is arranged as:

  1. Confidential Data – data that is safeguarded as secret by all substances included or affected by the data. The most elevated level of safety efforts ought to be applied to such information.
  2. Classified Data – data that has limited admittance according to regulation or guideline.
  3. Restricted Data – data that is accessible to the vast majority of representatives.
  4. Internal Data – data that is available by all workers
  5. Public Data – data that everybody inside and outside the association can get to

In today’s world, Information is one of the essential parts of our life. In this, we will discuss the categHow to Classify Information?
Good information classification acts as a foundation to keep your business data organized, accessible and useful. It is a complex and hefty task to classify information in high volume, variety, and relevance.

Most companies follow the following steps to make things easier:

Analyze and understand information assets and assign the level of sensitivity to each one of them.

The first step of information classification is assigning value to each information asset, depending on the risk of loss or harm if the information gets disclosed. Based on value, information is sorted as:

Confidential Information – information that is protected as confidential by all entities included or impacted by the information. The highest level of security measures should be applied to such data. 
Classified Information – information that has restricted access as per law or regulation. 
Restricted Information – information that is available to most but not all employees. 
Internal Information – information that is accessible by all employees
Public Information – information that everyone within and outside the organization can accessorization of information on the basis of different organizations and different parameters. Information in an organization should be categorized and must be kept confidential and that’s why information security comes into the picture, and it plays a vital role for any organization.

The main reason for classifying information is that not all data/information has the same level of importance or the same level of relevance/critical to an organization. Some data are more valuable to people who make strategic decisions (senior management) because they aid them in making long-run or short-range business direction decisions. Some data such as trade secrets, formulas (used by scientific and/or research organizations), and new product information (such as the use by marketing staff and sales force) are so valuable that their loss could create significant problems for the enterprise in the market. Thus, it is obvious that information is used to prevent unauthorized disclosure and the resultant failure of confidentiality.

Schemes for Information Classifications as follows.

  1. Government Organization
  2. Private Organizations

Levels in Government organization for Information Classification :

  1. Unclassified – Information that is neither sensitive nor classified. The public release of this information does not violate confidentiality.
  2. Sensitive but Unclassified – Information that has been designed as a major secret but may not create serious damage if disclosed.
  3. Confidential – The unauthorized disclosure of confidential information could cause some damage to the country’s national security
  4. Secret – The unauthorized disclosure of this information could cause serious damage to the countries national security.
  5. Top Secret – It is the highest level of information classification. Any unauthorized disclosure of top-secret information will cause grave damage to the country’s national security.

Levels in Private Organizations for Information Classification :

  1. Public – Information that is similar to unclassified information. However, if it is disclosed, it is not expected to seriously impact the company.
  2. Sensitive – Information that required a higher level of classification than normal data. This information is protected from a loss of confidentiality as well as from loss of integrity owing to an unauthorized alteration.
  3. Private – Typically, this is the information i.e. considered of a personal nature and is intended for company use only, its disclosure could adversely affect the company or its employee salary levels and medical information could be considered as examples of “private information”.

Criteria for Information Classification :

  1. Value – It is the most commonly used criteria for classifying data in the private sector. If the information is valuable to an organization it needs to be classified.
  2. Age – The classification of the information may be lowered if the information value decreases over time.
  3. Useful Life – Information will be more useful if it will be available to make the changes as per requirements than, it will be more useful.
  4. Personal association – If the information is personally associated with a specific individual or is addressed by a privacy law then it may need to be classified.

Advantahes and Disadvantages 

Advantages of information classification in information security include:

  • Improved security: By classifying information based on its level of sensitivity, organizations can ensure that the appropriate security controls are in place to protect that information.
  • Compliance: Information classification can help organizations to meet compliance requirements, by ensuring that sensitive information is protected in accordance with relevant regulations.
  • Risk management: By identifying and classifying sensitive information, organizations can better manage the risks associated with that information.
  • Better resource management: By classifying information, organizations can ensure that their resources are used efficiently, by focusing on protecting the most sensitive information first.
  • Increased efficiency: By implementing information classification, organizations can ensure that their information security processes are streamlined and efficient.

Disadvantages of information classification in information security include:

  • Cost: Implementing information classification can be costly, as it may require additional resources, such as security experts, to manage the process.
  • Time-consuming: The classification process can be time-consuming, especially for organizations that have a large amount of data to classify.
  • Complexity: The classification process can be complex, especially for organizations that have not previously used this framework.
  • Inflexibility: The classification process is a structured process, which can make it difficult for organizations to respond quickly to changing security needs.
  • Limited Adaptability: The classification process is predefined, which is not adaptable to new technologies, it may require updating or revising to accommodate new technology.

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