For organizations looking to improve their data protection and data compliance strategies, technology is essential. Implementation of the right software can help you gain visibility into your company’s data, improving your ability to protect customer information and remain compliant with data privacy regulations.
In fact, there are an increasing number of cybersecurity vendors offering data classification software as either a standalone technology or as part of a more comprehensive data protection platform.
But what should your business look for when selecting a data classification software?
In this blog we take a look at what data classification software actually is, how your company’s cybersecurity strategy will benefit from its implementation and what features you should look for when buying data classification software.
What is data classification software?
Data classification is the process of classifying and organizing data based on a set of clearly defined characteristics. By performing this action, an organization is able to separate its data based on its content, the sensitivity of its data type, and how it is being used or as per the requirements needed to comply with data privacy regulations.
For example, imagine your organization must comply with GDPR compliance regulations because you store, process or handle the data of EU citizens. Data classification allows you to classify the data that must comply with these regulations clearly, so that you can quickly identify data that falls under these regulations.
Data classification makes this process easy, allowing your organization to identify and tag its sensitive data no matter where it lives. These classifications then determine how each piece of data should be stored, managed, used and shared by the business.
What are the benefits of using data classification software?
A surprising number of IT teams continue to rely on manual methods like spreadsheets to track and inventory company assets and data, and that’s usually because classification tools fall further down the priority list when it comes to budget allocation. Yet manual processes are prone to human error. In the long run these processes can introduce undesirable costs when something goes wrong, like systems downtime, non-compliance or even a security breach.
Data classification is a way for an organization to ensure data accuracy, and that it is not only compliant with appropriate data privacy regulations, but also improving and maximizing its data protection strategy.
Here are just a few of the top ways in which data classification benefits a business:
- Improved transparency: Data classification makes it easier for an organization to view how its data is being used and where it lives.
- Enhanced compliance practices: Classifying data helps businesses better enforce data privacy policies and meet legal and regulatory data privacy requirements.
- Data visibility: Data classification ensures a company’s employees are more aware of the type of data that they are dealing with, its value and what they must do when moving or managing it.
- Improved data protection: Data classification empowers a business to focus on the most important areas of its business, giving it visibility into where cybersecurity resources can be sent to secure the data groupings with the biggest vulnerabilities.
What features to look for in data classification software?
#1 – Data classification should be paired with data discovery
Data discovery and data classification go hand in hand. While data classification is the process of separating data based on how it should be used and managed, data discovery is the process of scanning your entire environment to find and identify where both structured and unstructured data resides across your business.
Data discovery and data classification work together to ensure a business has complete visibility into what data it has, where it lives and what policies are needed to put in place to better protect data and ensure the organization complies with data protection regulations.
#2 – A scalable platform that grows with your business
Every organization has different data classification requirements, and those needs change as the company evolves. As your business grows, so will the amount of data that you collect and manage. Businesses need a data classification software solution that will support their business long term. It’s expensive to chop and change systems every couple of years when they no longer meet your demands.
#3 – Support across all data types
Sensitive data can be saved in a range of file types across your organization, from PDF files, CVS, .doc, jpeg and so many more. Being able to classify all data, no matter what file type it is saved as, is critical if your organization is to enhance its data protection and ensure data privacy compliance.
With that in mind, it’s important to choose a data classification software platform that is capable of supporting a wide range of file types that may hold sensitive data across your organization’s entire network.