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Cloud platform Box is introducing automated file classification to Box Shield, its machine learning-powered security platform for preventing data leaks and compromises.

Box launched Shield in private beta back in August ahead of its full launch two months later. Initially, Box Shield shipped with a handful of core functionalities, including “smart access,” which allows admins to define rules and access policies to control specific actions among employees, such as content and link sharing, and to set up automated threat and data breach detection alerts. A few months back, Box added automated malware detection to the mix.

PII detection

Now, with automated classification, Box is using machine learning to automatically scan files to detect personally identifiable information (PII) in files in real time as they’re uploaded to the cloud or moved between locations. This helps businesses to safeguard all their documents, including spreadsheets, PDFs, and Box Notes, ensuring that confidential or private information is categorized with the correct access and sharing permissions.

With automated file classification, Box Shield classifies files based on admin-defined policies, making it easier to enforce these policies at scale and ensure adherence to the growing number of data privacy laws such as GDPR, as well as long-standing regulations such as HIPAA.


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For example, Box Shield can detect and classify files that contain Social Security numbers, bank account details, or driver’s license numbers. Admins can also create custom terms to automatically classify any document that contains phrases such as “Confidential” or “Internal use only”.

Above: Box Shield: Categorizing content in real time

Then Shield can enforce access controls, such as restricting downloads or limiting the sharing of links to folders.

Above: Box Shield: “Shared links cannot be made public due to the applied classification”

The launch fits into a broader trend that has seen automation infiltrate the cybersecurity sphere. However, it also comes at a time when more people are working from home due to the COVID-19 crisis, leading to a greater risk of external and internal threats across businesses. Box said that in June alone, Shield was used 8 million times to block shared link access to classified files, and prevented nearly 1 million classified file downloads.

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