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3 things most data classification policies miss out
Many UK businesses don’t unlock the full potential of a data classification policy.
By including three key components in your organisation’s data classification policy you can unlock benefits that extend well beyond safer data.
The full range of benefits on offer from an effective data classification policy are extensive. They include cost savings, enhanced data security and regulatory compliance, to name a few. On the flip-side, an ineffective data protection policy can have a far-reaching impact, seriously undermining the culture of classification within a company.
So what should a data classification policy include?
Your data classification policy should contain details on how three key elements should be used to protect data. It should lay out exactly how visual markings, meta data and handling rules should be combined to create an effective data classification policy.
1. Visual Markings
As well as dictating the classification labels to be applied, your data classification policy should specify how visual markings communicate the classification to an end user.
Visual markings in the header, the footer or even as a watermark can significantly reduce the opportunity for human error by increasing the awareness of data sensitivity among users.
Once users have a realisation of the value of their data, they’re less likely to leave sensitive data lying around.
2. Metadata (data behind the document)
When data is classified, metadata is added to the file to dictate how that file should be treated.
Your data classification policy should define exactly what information needs to be added to the metadata. It should provide granular details of:
- Where each classification of document must be stored.
- Users who can access sensitive data.
Metadata can be read by software and therefore can automate a response from your third-party data protection solutions.
Your data classification policy should outline exactly how metadata can trigger these downstream protective solutions. By automating the application of these downstream solutions, reliability can be improved and your return on investment enhanced.
3. Handling Rules
Handling rules make up an important component of any effective data classification policy.
They should specify how documents within each classification are to be managed and handled. How data can be used, who can send, access and receive it, and even whether alerts should be triggered if data is sent to an unauthorised recipient. Other things your data classification policy could include are:
- Whether a user should be challenged or need to follow a confirmation process before being able to send sensitive data?
- What happens when an employee tries to send data to an unauthorised third party?
- And should the data be stopped in its tracks?
- Do management receive visibility on the attempt in a report?
- And when should interventions or alerts occur?
Making your data classification policy a road map to safer data
Your complete data classification policy should combine each of these three components to create a comprehensive data protection road map for your organisation. It should include guidance on how protective measures beyond the classification process can be used to stop data breaches and the misuse of data.
For more guidance on how to create a perfect data classification policy download our white paper How to create the perfect data classification policy.