Security Clearance Classification

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Top Secret key.

National security information that requires protection against unauthorized disclosure is classified at one of the following three levels.

Top secret is applied to information that reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to national security if disclosed to unauthorized sources.

This level needs to be reinvestigated every five years.*

Secret is applied to information that reasonably could be expected to cause serious damage to national security if disclosed to unauthorized sources.

This level is reinvestigated every 10 years.*

Confidential is applied to information that reasonably could be expected to cause damage to national security if disclosed to unauthorized sources. The vast majority of military personnel are given this very basic level of clearance.

This level needs to be reinvestigated every 15 years.*

* Reinvestigations are more important than the original investigation, because those individuals who have held clearances longer are more likely to be working with increasingly critical information.

Learn more about the 5 steps to gaining clearance.

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