Information classification is the process of determining the information's sensitivity level and the appropriate handling procedures. This policy aims to establish a consistent and standard approach to classifying information across the organization. The classification of information is a vital part of information security. It helps to ensure that only authorized personnel have access to sensitive information.
Therefore, this policy applies to all employees, contractors, and other individuals with access to the organisation's information. The ISO27001 information classification policy is a way of dividing information into categories based on its sensitivity. This policy aims to ensure that information is appropriately protected according to its level of sensitivity.
Types of Information Classification
- Sensitive information is data that may not be publicly available but should be protected from unauthorised access. This type of information might include internal company reports or customer data.
- Confidential information is data that must be kept secret and should only be accessed by authorised individuals. examples of personal information include trade secrets or military plans.
- Secret information is the most sensitive data type and must be carefully protected to prevent unauthorised access. This category includes information such as nuclear launch codes or CIA files.
- Public information- Any data that may be made available to the public, such as reports on how well a governmental function was performed, is considered public information.
Benefits of Information Classification Policy
- Data classification policies assist an organisation in determining the types of data that may be used, their availability, their locations, the access, integrity, and necessary security levels, and whether the current handling and processing implementations comply with laws and regulations.
- As it aids in categorising data to safeguard sensitive, important, and confidential information, it is the most effective and efficient technique for data protection. Organisations could face legal repercussions for breaking laws and regulations and financial loss or reputation harm if sensitive data falls into the wrong hands.
- Policies for data classification assist firms in adhering to legal requirements, industry standards, and client expectations.
- By enabling companies to choose the best security solutions depending on the volume of sensitive data that has to be protected, where it is situated, and the threat environment, it also aids in the optimisation of allotted security money.
ISO Guidelines to Implement Information Classification Policy
Organisations handling large amounts of data must protect this information from unauthorised access and misuse. One such measure is implementing an information classification policy in line with ISO27001 guidelines. This policy will help employees understand what data is confidential and how to handle it accordingly. A classification system will also make it easier to determine appropriate access control measures based on the sensitivity of the information.
- Identifying Confidential Data- Confidential data should be identified and classified as soon as it is collected. This includes personal information, financial records, business plans, and trade secrets. A security professional with knowledge of the organisation's data handling practices should perform the classification process. The classifications should be reviewed regularly and updated to reflect changes in the organisation's operations or data handling procedures.
- Establishing Data Handling Procedures- Once confidential data has been identified and classified, appropriate handling procedures must be implemented. These procedures will vary depending on the sensitivity of the information and how it is stored (electronic or paper). In general, all employees should be made aware of the classification system and told how to handle each type of data accordingly.
- Implementing an Access Control System- Access control systems can be implemented in various ways to provide different security features. For example, some systems allow you to restrict access to specific individuals, while others may allow access to multiple individuals with different permissions. Some systems allow you to set up rules that define who can access what resources and when they can do so.
- Labelling- The asset owner must develop a mechanism for labelling the information once it has been classified. For physically and digitally kept information, you'll need distinct procedures, but they should be as uniform and unambiguous as feasible.
How to Create an Information Classification Policy?
- Mention responsibilities- The protection of information is essential to the operations of any organisation. To ensure that information is properly safeguarded, it is essential to have a clear and well-defined classification policy. This policy should identify the different types of information within the organisation and the appropriate level of protection for each type. Furthermore, the policy should detail the responsibilities of individuals within the organisation for the classification and security of information.
- Category- The organisation of information is a vital part of effective communication. One way to organise information is by category. When you classify information by category, you group things with something in common. This can make it easier for your audience to understand and remember the information.
- Classification guidelines- The Information classification policy should include classification guidelines that establish the standards for classifying information. These guidelines should be designed to promote the consistent application of the procedure and should address all aspects of information classification, including the definition of terms, the determination of appropriate classifications, and the assignment of categories to information.
- Classification sensitivity criteria- Information classification is assigning labels to information to protect it from unauthorised disclosure. Many different classification schemes and standards can be used to classify information. These criteria can range from the need to protect organisation data security to the need to protect the privacy of individuals.
- Establish how sensitive information will be protected- It is essential to establish how you will protect sensitive information from unauthorised access or disclosure. This may involve using physical security measures such as locks and passwords and electronic security measures such as encryption and firewalls. You must also take steps to ensure that your employees and others with access to sensitive information receive adequate security training.