ISO 27001:2022 Information Classification Policy

by Alex .

Information classification involves determining the sensitivity level of information and the appropriate procedures for handling it. The primary goal of this policy is to establish a consistent and standardized approach to classifying information across the entire organization. Information classification is a critical component of information security, ensuring that only authorized personnel have access to sensitive data. This policy, known as the ISO 27001 Implementation Toolkit, pertains to ISO 27001 ISMS.

ISO 27001

Consequently, this policy applies to all individuals, including employees, contractors, and others with access to the organization's information. The ISO 27001 information classification policy serves as a means of categorizing information based on its level of sensitivity to ensure that information receives appropriate protection commensurate with its sensitivity.

Types of Information Classification:

  • Sensitive Information: This category encompasses data that is not publicly available but must be safeguarded against unauthorized access. Examples of sensitive information include internal company reports and customer data.
  • Confidential Information: Confidential data must be kept confidential and accessible only to authorized individuals. This category includes information like trade secrets or military plans.
  • Secret Information: This is the most sensitive type of data, requiring the highest level of protection to prevent unauthorized access. It includes information such as nuclear launch codes or CIA files.
  • Public Information: Any data intended to be made available to the public, such as reports on government performance, falls under this category.

    ISO Guidelines for Implementing Information Classification Policy

    Organizations with substantial data volumes must protect this information from unauthorized access and misuse. Implementing an information classification policy following ISO 27001 guidelines is a crucial measure. This policy helps employees understand what constitutes confidential data and how to handle it correctly. It also simplifies the establishment of access control measures based on data sensitivity.

    Steps to Implement an Information Classification Policy:

    • Organizations entrusted with significant volumes of data must safeguard this information against unauthorized access and improper use. One practical approach is implementing an information classification policy aligned with ISO 27001 guidelines. This policy provides employees with a clear understanding of confidential data and how to manage it appropriately. Furthermore, a classification system simplifies the determination of suitable access control measures based on the sensitivity of the information.
    • Identification of Confidential Data: Confidential data should be promptly recognized and categorized upon collection. This category encompasses personal information, financial records, business plans, and proprietary secrets. The classification process should ideally be carried out by a security professional who possesses an understanding of the organization's data handling practices. It is imperative to routinely review and update these classifications to accommodate changes in the organization's operations or data handling procedures.
    • Establishment of Data Handling Protocols: Once confidential data has been identified and categorized, it becomes imperative to establish and implement suitable handling procedures. These procedures will naturally vary based on the sensitivity of the data and its storage medium, be it electronic or paper. In a broader sense, it is crucial to ensure that all employees are well-informed about the classification system and understand how to handle each data type accordingly.
    • Implementation of Access Control Systems: Access control systems can be deployed in various ways to offer diverse security features. For instance, certain systems enable the restriction of access to specific individuals, while others allow access by multiple individuals with varying permissions. Some systems also enable the establishment of rules defining who can access specific resources and when they can do so.
    • Labelling: The owner of the assets must devise a method for labelling information once it has been classified. While distinct procedures may be necessary for physically and digitally stored information, they should aim to maintain uniformity and clarity to the greatest extent possible.

    ISO 27001

    Benefits of Information Classification Policy

    • Data classification policies help organizations determine data types, availability, locations, access, integrity, security levels, and compliance with relevant laws and regulations.
    • Effective data classification is crucial for safeguarding sensitive, important, and confidential information, reducing the risk of legal consequences, financial loss, and damage to reputation.
    • These policies aid organizations in meeting legal requirements, industry standards, and client expectations.
    • By allowing organizations to tailor security solutions to the volume and location of sensitive data and the threat environment, these policies optimize the allocation of security resources.

    How to Develop an Information Classification Policy?

    • Define Responsibilities: Safeguarding information is a critical aspect of an organization's functioning. To ensure the proper protection of information, it is vital to create a clear and well-defined classification policy. This policy should not only identify the various types of information within the organization but also determine the appropriate level of protection for each type. Additionally, it should outline the responsibilities of individuals within the organization regarding the classification and security of information.
    • Categorization: Organizing information plays a pivotal role in effective communication. One method of organizing information is through categorization. When information is classified by category, it groups similar elements, making it more understandable and memorable for the audience.
    • Guidelines for Classification: The Information Classification Policy should encompass guidelines establishing standards for classifying information. These guidelines should be designed to ensure the consistent application of the classification procedure, addressing all facets of information classification. This includes the definition of terms, the determination of suitable classifications, and the allocation of categories to different types of information.
    • Sensitivity Criteria for Classification: Information classification entails affixing labels to data to shield it from unauthorized disclosure. Numerous classification schemes and standards are available for this purpose. These criteria can range from the necessity of safeguarding organizational data security to the imperative of protecting individual privacy.
    • Establishing Protection for Sensitive Information: It is crucial to define how sensitive information will be safeguarded from unauthorized access or disclosure. This may involve implementing physical security measures like locks and passwords, as well as electronic security measures such as encryption and firewalls. Furthermore, it is essential to ensure that employees and other individuals with access to sensitive information receive adequate security training.


     Information Classification Policy serves as a cornerstone in an organization's information security framework. By providing a structured approach to categorizing and safeguarding information assets based on their sensitivity, this policy aids in risk mitigation, confidentiality assurance, and regulatory compliance. Implementing and adhering to this policy ensures a consistent and standardized approach to information classification, fostering a resilient Information Security Management System (ISMS). Ultimately, it strengthens the organization's commitment to protecting sensitive information and upholding the highest standards of information security in alignment with ISO 27001:2022.

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