How Does Data Classification Improve Data Loss Prevention?

Data Loss
Data Classification
5 min read
James Mignacca
October 5, 2022
James Mignacca
October 5, 2022
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During a time where the vast majority of organizations have growing attack surfaces that make them more vulnerable to cyber threats, data loss prevention strategies have never been more important.

Yet data loss prevention is far from easy. Strategies are getting more complex and more difficult to implement by the year. The technologies that underpin a company’s data loss strategy will make or break how successful a business is.

A critical component of data loss prevention is data classification. In this blog, we’re going to take a closer look at what data classification is and how it can help your business enhance its data loss prevention strategy.

What is data classification?

Data classification is the process of organizing data based into relevant categories by classing data based on its content, the sensitivity of the data type, how it is being used, or what compliance regulations it falls under.

For example, data could be classified as public data, private data, internal data, confidential data or restricted data, or it could also be classified into categories aligned with regulatory compliance such as HIPAA or GDPR.

By classifying data correctly, businesses can more easily determine how each piece of data should be stored, managed, used and shared, as well as assign appropriate access permissions and implement effective data protection measures.

What is data loss prevention?

Data loss prevention is the process of protecting sensitive data and critical business information from unauthorized access, malicious cyber threats, data loss and unintentional data leaks.

To do this, data loss prevention combines a variety of best practices, technologies, processes and employee training to ensure sensitive data is protected while it is being used by authorized personnel, while it is being transferred from one location to another, and while it is stored (resting) on the company’s network.

A critical aspect of successful data loss prevention is visibility. Data discovery software gives organizations the network visibility they need to understand where their data lives, how it’s being used and who has access to it. From there, businesses are able to implement effective data protection initiatives.

What is the role of data classification in data loss prevention?

There are a variety of ways in which data classification helps enhance a company’s data loss prevention strategy. We’ve listed a few of the key ways here:

Helping to determine security priorities

Data classification helps IT teams determine where to focus their monitoring and security efforts. By categorizing data based specifically on risk, organizations are able to locate and categorize their most sensitive and at-risk data. By focusing on data that is most at-risk, companies can implement data protection strategies that better protect their most critical data.

Helping to enforce compliance with data privacy regulations

Since data can be categorized by how it relates to specific compliance regulations that businesses have to adhere to, this ensures teams can quickly identify the data that relates to specific data privacy regulations and then apply the appropriate controls for how that data should be managed, stored and handled. This helps to both better protect that data and ensure that the business complies with regulations.

It improves your security maturity

Organizations must strengthen their security maturity to better mitigate the risk of data loss from both internal and external threats, as well as comply with data privacy regulations. Data classification is another string to the bow of a successful data loss protection strategy, which is made up of a range of technologies which all work together in an effort to mitigate data loss risk.

To ensure your data classification initiatives are truly helping your data loss prevention strategy, it’s crucial that data classification is automated. Manually classifying data is not only time-consuming, but it puts your business at huge risk from human error.

Automated data classification provides reliable and consistent data classification that ensures your business has complete visibility of its entire IT environment and where data resides within it.

Interested in learning more about automated data classification, and how it can help your business enhance its data loss prevention strategy. Check out our Data Protection Solutions Guide for data classification use cases, industry best practices and more.

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