The only way to really know if we’re a good fit is to get in touch, so let’s have a chat! One of our friendly experts will get straight back to you. You never know, this could be the beginning of a great partnership.


+ 27 (0) 10 591 2323

Microsoft sensitivity labelling

Get to grips with Microsoft sensitivity labelling

Data classification is not just a compliance necessity but a strategic asset for organisations, offering a comprehensive and proactive approach to data governance, risk management, and information security in today’s data-intensive and interconnected business environment.

Our legal and compliance expert, Nivasha Sanilal, started the webinar focusing on the business benefits of data classification to get sensitivity labelling right. 

1. Data classification enables organisations to adopt a risk-based approach, ensuring the proper identification and protection of sensitive information. This is crucial in meeting regulatory requirements, such as GDPR, reducing the risk of substantial fines, reputational damage, and aiding in compliance audits.

2. A well-implemented data classification system is a vital component of a holistic data governance strategy. Recognising that data governance is an ongoing, evolving process, it provides a structured framework for organisations to manage, secure, and prioritise their data effectively.

3. By classifying data according to sensitivity and risk, organisations can implement appropriate security measures. This includes setting access controls, thereby enhancing confidentiality and preventing unauthorised data access, loss, or corruption.

4. With the increasing emphasis on individuals’ data privacy rights, data classification ensures a conscious and thoughtful approach to data discovery and management. This is crucial for safeguarding personal data and maintaining trust with customers and stakeholders.

5. In the era of advanced AI tools like Microsoft 365 Copilot, a solid data governance strategy is essential. Data classification ensures the accuracy, completeness, reliability, and security of data, thereby maximising the benefits of AI tools while addressing regulatory and ethical considerations.

6. Data classification raises awareness among business leaders regarding the types of sensitive data within their organisation and who has access to it. This awareness facilitates informed decision-making and allows for the implementation of precise access controls, making data easily accessible to authorised users.

7. Classification of information is pivotal for enterprises to thrive and maintain integrity in the digital world. It provides a foundation for a proactive and strategic approach to information management, supporting business continuity and resilience.

Where and what is your data?

Johann van Schalkwyk, Cloud Essentials’ Managing Director SA and technical lead, provided an overview and demonstration Microsoft’s native tools and capabilities, spanning both on premise and a broad range of cloud services, that enable you to identify where content is stored and when it contains sensitive data.  He also demonstrated pre-existing classifiers and how to tailor your own using trainable classifiers and custom sensitive information types. 

Where to start?

Looking at the challenge from both a legal/compliance perspective as well as a technology angle, we discussed our recommendations for where to start.  

  1. What’s already in place?
  2. What do you need to protect and why?How sensitive is the data you handle? How is the data currently stored and managed?
  3. Gather the right group of stakeholders 
  4. Bring the taxonomy to life through aligning roles and responsibilities 
  5. Implementation, focusing on the finalization and roll out of a documented personal data classification taxonomy schedule and the implementation of controls (people, process and technology).  

Why is data classification so important?

 All the hard work you put into the data classification process is given teeth in the form of information protection deployment. Information Protection controls, include encryption of data at rest and in transit, strict access controls, and regular security audits. ​

​You might be wondering why you should go through the effort of creating a data classification taxonomy when your IT department could do a default roll out of sensitivity labels. But the default labels do not factor in the risk attached to your various datasets. ​

​This is where we see a BIG gap between clients that have invested in the classification process. ​

​A default rollout not supported by your data classification taxonomy could create a false sense of security and you might even rely on it through an audit or compliance monitoring exercise – is it there? Yes! But will it assist in the prevention of a data breach of your highest risk data and or against your highest risk behaviours? Most likely not?!  ​

​Information Protection controls are not merely a compliance requirement but a critical business strategy.  These controls perform many critical functions, such as keeping unauthorized individuals from gaining access to a system and detecting when a security violation has occurred. Information Protection controls must be organized in such a way that they provide protection for both data at rest (e.g., data stored on a hard drive) and data in motion (e.g., data moving across a network). 

​Johann went through a demonstration of how these controls will ensure that your business sensitive and confidential information is secured/protected regardless of where it finds itself through the content data lifecycle – from creation right through to disposition/deletion.

Find out more about how Cloud Essentials can help to accelerate your Microsoft compliance journey, and contact us to set up a discovery call to discuss your challenges in detail.