Azure Information Protection- part 2: Admin portal

In this blog, I would like to show and explain to you the back end side/admin side of Azure Information Protection. What does it look like, what can you configure, which options do you have. As I mentioned before in part 1, setting up/configuring and using Azure Information Protection is quite easy. Defining the corporate data policy will require some thinking.

Azure Information Protection (AIP) can be found in the Azure Portal and can be added to your dashboard. From there it is very easy to jump to AIP and start configuring.

First item you will see is the policy. In my screenshot you see a policy called “Global” and applies to all users in my tenant. I can add multiple policies and apply those to different groups within my tenant/organisation. So, different groups can have different classifications and labels. In my opinion, keep things simple.

So, everything I will talk about after this, all settings apply to my policy “Global”.

The next part in the AIP portal are the labels. Default labels are defined but you can radjust them- different names, colors and descriptions but also add more labels and sub labels. These labels are what users will see as a ribbon in the Windows Office apps- Excel, Outlook, Powerpoint and Word (I will deiscuss the end user part in another post). Basically, these labels represent your content policy. You translate that policy in labels.

Below the label section, you find some more settings; the title end users see in the ribbon and the tooltip. Also, if all documents and emails must have a label; in other words, is it required for users to classify documents and email or not. A pretty good setting if you want to enforce classification. Another great setting to start using classifying content is the setting to have a default label applied for documents and emails. This means that e new email or a new document automatically will have a classification- in my case; “General”. Users will be able to change the label. You can configure that in the case of a lower label/remove label by a user, a justification needs to be entered by that user. This is being logged in Azure so you can trace all this. Removing a label can be done, but a user always will do this on purpose/with a reason and never by accident.

As I mentioned before, you can name the labels as you want. The description part is pretty important. This description is shown to end users when they hoover over the labels in the Office apps. Good descriptions will help users use the right labels and thus protect the right documents and emails.

Optionally you can attach a Microsoft Right Management Service template to a label. You have to configure this template in the RMS portal . I will discuss the options in RMS in a different post but to summarize it; with an RMS template you can define with which users/groups  the document with that specific label can be shared and what these users/groups can do with that document/email, among other settings.

You also can configure visual settings with your labels like:

  • header/footer text,
  • color,
  • font,
  • watermark,
  • alignment.

 

 

One of the best settings are saved for last: automatic labeling/recommendations. Within AIP, you can define 1 or multiple conditions within a label. When a document/email matches that condition you can either automatically apply that label to the document/email or visually show the user a recommendation with a reason.

In my example, a user will see a recommendation to classify/label the document/email as Confidential- Internal Recipients, when a document contains the word “draft”. You can define custom conditions, like phrases. You can set it to exactly matching or match as expression. There also are built in conditions like IBAN and Swift. In this case, you can automate/enforce classification based on what you believe is important, and you can take human error out of it.

Hopefully this post gives you a general understanding of what you can do on the admin side with AIP.

 

Azure Information Protection- part 1: Document+email protection overview

In one of my earlier post, I wrote about VDI and if the concept is dead. One of my points was that VDI was/is used for content security reasons. Place all your desktops virtually in a central data center, and automatically, the assumption is that content will be protected as well. I have heard this use case many times but I believe there is a better approach to deal with content protection: truly protect your content; your documents and emails. Besides true protection, make your users aware what kind of content they are dealing with. Make them think twice before they send content to others, for example.

Azure Information Protection is a cloud-based solution that helps you to classify, label
and protect documents and emails. This can be done automatically (rules set by administrators), manually (by users) or both- where users are given recommendations. Optionally you can monitor and respond which means you can track & trace content and revoke access.

By using labels you add classifications to files and emails. This is done by adding metadata in clear text to files and email headers.

So, there are 3 components to Azure Information Protection:

  1. Classification/labeling: as an organisation you must think about your content- documents/emails first. There needs to be a organisation wide policy on how to classify/label content. Call it sensitivity levels, like: Personal, General, Confidential etc. You need to describe which content will get what classification/label. This policy will be implemented in Azure Information Protection. I sometimes call this the awareness phase: as an organisation, you need to think documents/emails, get aware of the sensitivity and translate that to labels. As a user, because of the policy, you will become aware of the guidelines set by the organisation how to handle specific content, and become more aware of its sensitivity. Besides coming up with classifications/labels, as an organisation you also need to think about the results/consequences within a classification/label. Is there a result within a label? Does a label require protection? That’s component 2,
  2. Protection: if you decide/agree as an organisation that a specific classification/label needs protection, you will need to define what kind of protection; encryption, access control, expiration data etc. That’s a second policy you need to think about. Do realize that not all classifications/labels will get protection in most cases, as far as I see it. So, as an example: documents with a label “General” aren’t protected and can be send to everyone, opened by everyone. etc. Documents labeled as “Confidential” might have a protection policy- only shared internally, only viewed and not edited, etc. When there is a protection policy in place, attached to a classification/label, users can track&trace the document and optionally revoke access to it. Component 3,
  3. Monitor and Respond: when a document is classified/labeled and protected, a user can monitor the usage of that document when he/she shares it. Via the Azure Information Protection client, a user can monitor who has opened the document and from where. That user also can revoke access to that document.

The beauty of Azure Information Protection is that it can classify/label and protect data no matter where the documents are; file shares, OneDrive, Sharepoint etc. It is very intuitive and easy to use for users through buttons. I will cover what Azure Information Protection looks like from an admin perspective, from a user perspective and use cases in different, coming posts. Stay tuned. If you want to know more/read more, click here.