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What Are Data Classification Tools?

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Handling vast amounts of data can be complex. Categorizing according to its sensitivity and importance alone can take days or even weeks out of your team members’ time.

But managing and protecting your organization’s data effectively is one of the most crucial things you can do to keep your information secure. According to Forbes, there was a 72% increase in data breaches in 2023 compared to 2021, which previously held the all-time record.

The solution? Data classification tools – which can help organizations secure their sensitive information and meet various regulatory requirements without the tedious manual work. Let’s explore what data classification tools are and how they can play a role in your organization.

automated data classification tool

What is Data Classification?

Data classification is a systematic approach to managing corporate information by categorizing it into predefined groups. Data classification tools have a few different ways they benefit organizations:

  • Prioritizing data security. It helps organizations identify which data is most sensitive so they can implement stronger security measures where they’re most needed. This protects the most critical data from unauthorized access and breaches.
  • Compliance: Many industries have regulations governing how they handle specific types of data. Classification helps make sure data handling practices are in compliance, reducing the risk of penalties.
  • Efficiency: Data is easier to manage and retrieve when it’s organized systematically. This not only speeds up day-to-day operations but also reduces storage costs by identifying redundant or obsolete data that can be archived or deleted.

Types of Data Classification

Understanding the different methods of data classification can help organizations choose the most effective strategy for their needs.

Manual Classification

Manual classification relies on individuals to categorize data based on their understanding and knowledge of the content. These dedicated team members will review and classify data according to internal guidelines or criteria. This might involve determining the sensitivity of information or its relevance to regulatory requirements.

Manual classification is often reserved for highly sensitive data where context and nuanced understanding are crucial, like legal documents or strategic business plans.

The problem with this method is that it can be slow and subject to human error. The consistency of data classification may vary between different employees, leading to potential security risks or inefficiencies.

data discovery and classification tools

Automated Classification

Automated classification uses software to categorize data based on predefined rules and algorithms. This can include scanning document contents for sensitive keywords or analyzing file types and access levels.

Automation reduces the likelihood of human error and ensures that data is classified uniformly across the organization. It also processes data much faster than manual methods, allowing real-time classification as new data is created or modified.

Automated classification systems can handle large volumes of data, making them particularly ideal for enterprises or organizations that generate lots of digital information.

Key Features of Data Classification Tools

Data classification tools are designed to streamline the process of securing and managing an organization’s data. These tools come equipped with various features that help businesses automatically organize their data, ensure it’s handled correctly, and integrate these processes with other security measures.

Here’s a closer look at some of the essential features of data classification tools:

Automated Data Discovery

One of the fundamental capabilities of data classification tools is the ability to automatically discover and catalog data across an organization’s digital environment.

These tools scan through various data stores — from on-premises databases to cloud storage — to identify and catalog data. This includes not only structured data, like numbers and dates in databases but also unstructured data, like emails and documents.

After it initially identifies and catalogues, an automated data classification tool will continuously monitor for new or modified data. This ensures that all data within the organization is consistently categorized and managed according to its classification, even as it changes or as new data is created.

Accurate Data Categorization

If you don’t have your data organized with proper data classification software tools, it’ll be hard to have proper compliance and security to ensure your sensitive data is identified and protected appropriately.

Data classification tools like Qostodian allow organizations to customize classification criteria to match their specific security policies and compliance requirements. This means that businesses can set up rules based on their unique needs, whether they’re adhering to GDPR, HIPAA, or other regulations.

Integration with Other Security Tools

To provide a robust defense against threats and ensure comprehensive data management, data classification tools are designed to integrate seamlessly with other security tools within an organization’s infrastructure.

Integrating with systems like Data Loss Prevention (DLP) programs, encryption services, and access controls, data classification tools help create an advanced security posture. Specifically, this helps in applying the appropriate security measures based on the classification of the data, whether it needs encryption, strict access controls, or other forms of protection.

These tools also provide a unified view of an organization’s data security and compliance status, making it easier for IT teams to manage risks and adhere to regulations. This helps immensely in those moments of quick decision, like if a hacker gains unauthorized access to sensitive customer information or internal company data.

Benefits of Using Data Discovery and Classification Tools

Data classification tools are not just about organizing information; they also provide significant benefits that can transform how an organization handles its data.

They can enhance data protection and ensure compliance with regulatory demands (along with many other security and organizational methods) to help manage data securely and efficiently.

data classification tools

Enhanced Data Protection

Effective data protection starts with understanding what data you have and how sensitive it is.

Targeted security measures. These tools can classify data based on its sensitivity to help an organization implement more precise security controls tailored to whatever level of protection is required. This more targeted approach can significantly reduce the risk of data breaches by making sure that the most sensitive data receives the highest level of security.

Proactive risk management. Data classification tools also help in identifying and assessing the risks associated with sensitive data. By doing so, they enable organizations to take proactive steps to mitigate these risks before they escalate into actual security incidents.

Compliance with Regulations

Data breaches, along with the obvious destructive quality of threatening security, can also lead to significant fines and legal repercussions.

Data classification tools help organizations comply with various data protection laws like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and others.

One of the other key benefits is their ability to organize data in a way that simplifies compliance audits. With well-classified data and clear documentation of data handling practices, organizations can streamline the audit process, making it less cumbersome and more efficient when it happens.

Improved Data Management

By categorizing data based on its importance and usage, data classification tools streamline the handling processes. This makes data more accessible and enhances operational efficiency by ensuring that employees can find and use data more effectively.

They can also significantly reduce costs by identifying redundant, obsolete, or trivial (ROT) data that can be safely archived or deleted. By eliminating unnecessary data storage, organizations can significantly reduce storage costs and improve data retrieval times.

data classification software tools

Implement Data Classification in Your Organization with Qohash’s Qostodian Recon Platform!

Qohash’s Recon solution provides accurate data visibility to organizations in minutes. Our customers use Recon to discover, classify,  inventory sensitive data, and get straightforward visibility into their most critical files. 

 Recon discovers and classifies sensitive data elements up to 50x faster than alternatives. Its scanning engine supports every file type with no size limits. It’s designed to be operated by one person and doesn’t require additional dependencies – everything is included in one executable.

Book a demo for a streamlined data classification tool to stay ahead of security threats in your organization.

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