In light of this, we are excited to demonstrate the new ADD SENSITIVITY CLASSIFICATION command introduced in SQL Server 2019.

For a database administrator, the common everyday practice involves running multiple operations targeted at ensuring database security and integrity. Thus, we shouldn’t overlook the importance of sensitive data stored in the database under any circumstances. In light of this, we are excited to demonstrate the new ADD SENSITIVITY CLASSIFICATION command introduced in SQL Server 2019, which allows adding the sensitivity classification metadata to database columns.

What’s the Big Deal About Data Protection?

There are numerous types of applications that store sensitive information both for users, such as credit card numbers, passwords, health care information, IDs, SSN, and other applications like credential data, trade secrets, certificates.

The leak or breach of such information can lead to horrific consequences as companies might be forced to pay millions of dollars in damage compensation to customers and financial institutions.

To be compliant with regulations for personal data such as GDPR or healthcare data (HIPAA), the company needs to acquire the best practices of data security and protection.

What the Command Offers

The most sensitive data in your database mainly refers to the business, financial, healthcare, or personal information. To establish a high level of your organization data protection, the key steps you should undertake are to discover the sensitive data and then to classify it. This is where the new command will show to its best advantage.

Above all, it will help you meet the standards for data privacy and requirements for regulatory compliance. Additionally, with its help, you can implement several scenarios to monitor (audit) and alert on anomalous access to sensitive data. Finally, you will be able to toughen the security of databases containing highly sensitive data and manage access to them.

Summarizing the above, one of the pivoting points in compliance practice is to know which data has to be secured, classify this data, give access to only a limited number of people allowed to view or modify it, and continuously monitor access to your sensitive data to know all access patterns.


For starters, let me remind you that a similar feature – Data Discovery and Classification was introduced into SSMS v17.5. As well as the ADD SENSITIVITY CLASSIFICATION command, the SSMS wizard allows classifying data and labeling it with sensitivity tags. To learn the details and the differences between these two, refer to our article about SQL Data Discovery and Classification in SSMS.

Let’s now talk about the ADD SENSITIVITY CLASSIFICATION command in greater detail. Hence, this section will deal with the most important issues related to discovering, classifying, and labeling columns that contain sensitive data in your database, along with viewing the current classification state of your database.

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