The term “need to know basis” refers to any information that is given to particular persons who can be beneficial for a project. The term “need to know basis” is generally used by government organizations and specifically in military and espionage where the data disseminated is largely restricted due to its sensitive nature. Need to know basis implies that people are told certain facts which are essential for the proper performance of their duties and moreover the information is disbursed only at the required time.
Need to know basis implies information that is given to a select few. It may be necessary for the person to get a security clearance to have access to the information but even this would not suffice and the concerned person may not be able to gain access to a secret operation if it is not backed by a need to know basis. In other words, unless the information is essential for a person to conduct his official duties, his requirement and access to the information may not be termed as need to know basis. By supplying information on a need to know basis unnecessary browsing of sensitive data is avoided as the access to such sensitive information is limited to a small umber of people.
The main purpose of a need to know basis information is to protect the secret information from being leaked out. For instance a federal agency may share information on its operations mainly on a need to know basis to maintain the integrity of the sensitive information. Under the need to know basis, information is dispensed only to the required persons. Thus it restricts any unauthorized access as is required in security mechanisms. Need to know basis gives a legitimate access of sensitive material to only the required number of people which may be very limited in most cases.
Need to know basis is basically a security measure that can encounter problems when it is not properly used by the concerned officials. Some personnel may misuse the need to know basis by refusing the necessary people to access the information just to show their power or to shield their illegal doings. In other cases information is denied to the required persons to prevent any negative appraisals of their work on the project.
Many military operations work on a need to know basis. For instance in a battle, many military personnel may be involved in the invasion but only a select few would know the details of the operation while most of them would be given information on a need to know basis , to execute a particular plan in the whole scheme of things. The information is often divided among various individuals and departments on a need to know basis so that sensitive information is never known in totality by a single individual. The production of government currency largely works on a need to know basis to protect the sensitive information being misused in producing counterfeit currency.