Microsoft Azure Information Protection Brings Labeling and Classification to Office Applications

Azure Information Protection allows employees to label and classify documents while editing them in Office

Protecting information and documents has long been a security need defined by Chief Security Officers (CFOs) and IT security groups for years. The issue has been defining a holistic strategy while gluing together solutions from multiple vendors.

User experience has been inconsistent, clunky and led to bad and limited adoption. For example, past solutions relied on using private certificates and complicated infrastructure investments to encrypt data. This was a poor user experience because of trusted certificate issues. Mediums for sharing the data between organizations was cumbersome for the end user. Also, many of these solutions required training and concentrated policies that were revolving doors with legal counsel because the technology didn’t allow true classification or labeling of the data.

In October, Microsoft reached general availability of a new solution, named Azure Information Protection. This solution is user-focused and allows employees to label and classify documents while editing them in the Office application. The classification is part of the document which enables it to travel for internal usage and travel with the document for secure business to business collaboration. If the classification or security of the document changes, it changes while at rest outside your network as well.

AIP integrates directly with Office applications via an add-in within Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint etc. AIP adds a “Protection” icon to the Office ribbon allowing end users to quickly classify the sensitivity of their document. Moreover, administrators can define Protection Policies with classification labels. These policies can be configured to require a user to apply a policy and even require an explanation when switching to a less restive label. This policy flexibility helps users to think about the sensitivity of the data and take applicable action on selecting the most appropriate classification and or label.

AIP provides new capabilities that will help Corporations move past adoption barriers of the past. Implementation time is shortened. AIP is integrated directly with Office applications. AIP classification labels and flexibility ease the adoption by the end users. Consideration of the policies with internal or external counsel is still recommended as well as change communication to drive adoption with the users.

For more information on Azure AIP and answers to other IT related questions, contact us today and a friendly IT consultant will be in touch with you.

Written by: Don Penland, Partner and Practice Director, Online Productivity