What is Data Discovery and Classification, and Why is it Important?

Data Discovery
Data Classification
5 min read
James Mignacca
March 31, 2022
James Mignacca
March 31, 2022
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Why Data Discovery and Classification are ImportantIn the modern world, data is a critical asset. In fact, today, data is the foundation of any business. If a company loses its data, or that data is compromised, it can significantly damage the business in terms of brand reputation, financial performance and customer loss.

According to IBM, the average cost of a data breach rose from 3.86 million (USD) to 4.24 million (USD) in 2021, the highest average total cost in the 17-year history of the report. Compromised credentials was the leading cause of breaches, responsible for 20 percent of all breaches at an average cost of 4.37 million (USD).

To avoid the harsh consequences of data loss or compromise, data protection is essential - but there’s one major problem holding the majority of businesses back. Visibility.

Companies are still largely struggling to gain visibility into what data they have and where their data lives. Finding and identifying data is one of the most complex and challenging processes that today's businesses face when it comes to their data protection strategy.

That’s why data discovery and classification is a crucial component of any effective data protection strategy.

In this blog, we answer the common question “what is data discovery and classification?”, as well as look at how your organization can benefit from implementing these two important processes into your overall data protection program.

What is data discovery and classification?

Data discovery and data classification are two separate processes, but they go hand-in-hand to give your organization complete visibility into the data across your entire environment. Before we get into how they work together, let’s look at a quick definition of each.

Data discovery

Data discovery is the process of scanning your entire environment to find and identify where both structured and unstructured data resides across your business. This means looking across your entire network, including file servers and hardware, to determine where sensitive and regulated data lives.​​

In essence, data discovery allows businesses to identify, classify and track sensitive data so that they have complete visibility into where their data lives. This helps companies to better protect their data, as well as ensure they are meeting regulatory compliance requirements.

Data classification

Data classification is the process of identifying the types of data that a business has discovered, and then tagging that data to organize it into categories based on file type, content and other metadata.

The process of data classification makes it easier to locate and retrieve sensitive data, as well as eliminate multiple duplications of data. This helps reduce storage and backup costs, increases visibility into where data lives and allows businesses to classify data by the type of regulation it is governed by - making compliance goals easier to achieve.

Data discovery and classification go hand-in-hand

Data discovery and classification work together to give businesses complete visibility into what data they have, where it lives and what policies need to be put in place to protect the data and ensure it complies with data protection regulations. In short, data discovery and classification dramatically improves your data protection and enables your business to implement the controls required to achieve compliance.

What are the benefits of data discovery and classification?

The combination of data discovery and data classification software can help your organization realize a range of data security benefits. Here are just a few of the top benefits an effective data discovery and classification strategy can help you achieve:

Gain visibility into your data

Data discovery is a crucial component of ensuring a business has complete visibility and control over what data they have and where their sensitive data lives. Data discovery gives businesses visibility into where they might have security gaps, who has permission to access data and how they can better classify their data. This enables more secure business processes that improve data protection.

Focus on your most vulnerable areas

Once you have discovered your company’s data, data classification empowers your business to focus on the most important areas of your business. For example, you will have the visibility needed to focus your IT or cybersecurity resources on securing the specific data groupings where you have the biggest vulnerabilities.

Ensure you achieve regulatory compliance

Gaining visibility and classifying your data is a huge step towards ensuring you can seamlessly achieve regulatory compliance. Through data discovery you can ensure your data lives in compliant locations and that when it moves it does so in controlled and appropriate ways. Meanwhile, through data classification, you can group data by the regulations it is subject to, making it easy to ensure you have the correct processes and controls in place depending on which regulations the specific data is governed by.

Why do companies struggle with data discovery and classification?

There are a huge number of business advantages to an effective data discovery and classification strategy, but the large majority of businesses are still struggling to effectively implement this process. That’s because it’s complex.

Businesses have huge amounts of data stored across the cloud, in on-premise locations and across other pieces of hardware. There’s vast amounts of data, and different types of data, that all needs to be tracked and classified across a complex architecture. To make this even more difficult, data is constantly changing and moving, regulations are evolving and businesses are always implementing new technologies and systems.

As a result, businesses just don’t have the time, resources, and even expertise, to do this manually.

That’s where a data discovery and classification platform, such as Cavelo, comes in. Businesses can gain control of their data, dramatically improve their data protection strategy and achieve compliance standards by using an innovative platform to automate data discovery and classification.

Want to learn more? Check out the Cavelo virtual demo today, and learn how our software simplifies data protection, data discovery and data classification to better protect your company’s data.

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