A classification level is assigned to information owned by, produced by or for, or controlled by the U.S. government.
A classification level is
|“||[a] designation assigned to specific elements of information based on the potential damage to national security if disclosed to unauthorized people. The three classification levels in descending order of potential damage are Top Secret, Secret, and Confidential.||”|
|“||[a] grouping of classified information to which a hierarchical, restrictive security label is applied to increase protection of the data. (2.) The level of protection that is required to be applied to that information.||”|
Information may be classified at one of the following levels:
The level of classification denotes the degree of protection required for information and the amount of damage that unauthorized disclosure could reasonably be expected to cause to national security. Unauthorized disclosure could reasonably be expected to cause (1) "damage," in the case of confidential information; (2) "serious damage," in the case of secret information; and (3) "exceptionally grave damage," in the case of top secret information.
Information is considered for classification if it concerns military plans, weapons systems, or operations; foreign government information; intelligence activities (including special activities), intelligence sources or methods, or cryptology; foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources; scientific, technological, or economic matters relating to the national security, which includes defense against transnational terrorism; U.S. government programs for safeguarding nuclear materials or facilities; vulnerabilities or capabilities of systems, installations, infrastructures, projects, plans, or protection services relating to the national security, which includes defense against transnational terrorism; or weapons of mass destruction.