Levels of Classification for Security

There are 2 commons schemes for classification.

  1. Government/Military Classification
  2. Business/Private Sector Classification

Government/Military Classifications has 5 levels

  1. Top Secret
  2. Secret
  3. Confidential
  4. Sensitive but unclassified
  5. Unclassified

Top Secret is the highest level and unauthorised disclosure of this type of data will have drastic effects and can cause grave damage to national security. Top secret classified data is provided on a need-to-know basis. Even if the user has top secret clearance, he will not have access to the data until there is a need to know.

Secret is used for restricted and sensitive data. Unauthorised disclosure of this type of data will have significant effects and will cause critical damage to national security.

Confidential is used for sensitive data that is highly valuable. Unauthorised access can cause serious damage to national security.

Sensitive But Unclassified is used for data that is for internal use only. Like information that could violate privacy rights of individuals.

Unclassified is used for data that is neither sensitive nor classified.


Business/Private Sector Classification has 3/4 levels but it can change from business to business.

  1. Confidential / Private
  2. Sensitive
  3. Public

Confidential/Private: Those are used for data that are significantly important and internal use only. A significant negative impact could occur if this type of information is disclosed. The main difference between confidential and private is confidential is used for organisation related information whereas private is used for information related to individuals. They both are at the same level.

Sensitive: This type of data is valuable for the organisation and negative impact could occur if disclosed.

Public: Lowest level of classification. This is used for all type of data that does not fir into the other classifications. Disclosing public data does not have any negative impact or negative outcome.



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