Data classification: Process, Implementation and Advantages

Endpoint DLP Plus enables IT admins to automate the extensive combing and categorization of sensitive information stored across endpoints. This enterprise solution rapidly discovers and classifies various types of structured as well as unstructured data using advanced mechanisms such as fingerprinting, RegEx, file extension based filter and keyword search. Furthermore, using Endpoint DLP Plus, sensitive data can be categorized based on origin, format and many other attributes using numerous predefined templates or by creating your own custom templates. After this step, it is significantly easier to create policies that dictate exactly how the specified content should be handled in order to prevent disclosure.

Implementing data classification using Endpoint DLP Plus solution.

Data classification process | Classification using pre-defined templates | Classification using custom templates & mechanisms | Types of classification | Why is data classification important for organizations? | Advantages of Endpoint DLP Plus

Detailed summary of  data classification process

  1. Extensive risk assessment: Identify the level of risk associated with particular types of sensitive data with respect to your organization, including employees and clientele, so you can prioritize your data protection efforts.
  2. Create official policies: The strictness of your security measures should be directly proportionate to the magnitude of risk that follows if a particular type of data is exposed or stolen. It’s important to formally create restrictions in terms of how users can interact with types of sensitive information, i.e., where they can store or upload it.
  3. Data collection: Prevalent within networks, endpoints can store significant amounts of data. An efficient way to conduct endpoint data searches is to group endpoints by functionality or department, since particular types of data will likely be found in their respective departments (e.g., PII in HR endpoints). Once data is accumulated, it’s ready to be sorted.

Data classification using predefined templates

Predefined templates enable swift detection of common indicators of sensitive items in documents that contain PII such addresses or financial information. Since PII is displayed in different formats around the world, predefined templates can be applied on a nation basis.

Data classification using custom templates

There are numerous niche industries where companies are required to handle and process data that doesn’t fall under the conventional forms of PII or finance tokens. For organization-specific requirements, there are a myriad of mechanisms to create detailed custom rule templates.

Fingerprinting

Fingerprinting is a DLP capability used to create templates based on user uploads or commonly transferred documents. Your organization’s established formats for the types of documents that are frequently handled can be used to distinguish between various sensitive documents. The structure of patents, legal documents, health records, and other types of documents can be contextually analyzed to create corresponding document fingerprints. From then onwards, those types of documents will be classified accordingly based on their corresponding layouts when they’re processed or transferred.

Keyword search

For files containing target keywords or other specific arrangements of letters that are thought to be signifiers of sensitive data (like names), the keyword search feature can be used to efficiently filter large volumes of data and automatically find the relevant documents. This tool is especially useful for investigative purposes, as it helps narrow down and detect specific criteria.

RegEx

RegEx, also known as a regular expression or rational expression, is a logical system to describe patterns. In data classification, it’s a powerful utility that can be used to identify expressions denoted in certain sensitive documents. They can include sequences such as credit card numbers or social security identification.

File Extensions

Documents can also be classified as sensitive according to their file extensions. Depending on the organization or department, certain file types have a high likelihood of containing sensitive items ex: In the accounting department, excel sheets will likely contain confidential, financial information so files with the extension .xlsx can be marked as sensitive.

Types of data classification

Information-centric Endpoint DLP Plus solutions conduct the following types of data classification:

  • Content based: Documents are searched for specific keyword, pattern, or image matches. OCR, fingerprinting, and RegEx are typically used as mechanisms to classify data based on content.
  • Context based: To derive the context of particular documents, the sources of the data and the extensions of the files are identified. Organizations typically have certain apps and email domains that are categorized as enterprise-appropriate. If a particular file is deemed to have been created or transferred via enterprise applications or emails, it will be marked as sensitive.

Why is data classification important?

A business harbors an immense amount of data at any given time. However, amongst the whirlwind of informal exchanges, documents and messages containing sensitive information can be transferred as well. When dealing with large volumes of miscellaneous organizational information, data classification software helps admins identify which data is innocuous and which data is sensitive and needs to be protected.

Advantages of data classification

  1. Effective risk management: Identifying the nature and sensitivity of data can help ensure that the apposite security measures are in place.
  2. Optimal use of resources: Optimal use of resources: By consolidating and securing all the sensitive information, the non-sensitive content can be further scrutinized to determine whether it is still useful. Any data deemed purposeless can then be easily eliminated to significantly reduce overhead costs for maintenance and storage.
  3. Comprehensive data loss prevention: All sensitive data is accounted for and labeled so any misuse is noticed immediately.
  4. Enhanced user productivity: Depending on the type and purpose of the data as well as how and when it is used, it can be made more accessible to authorized users and restricted from the rest.

Endpoint DLP Plus is steadfast in scrutinizing large amounts of data and helping admins achieve a high degree of organization and control. Download a 30-day free trial and try this out for yourself!