12 September 2018
Office 365, Microsoft 365

With GDPR at the forefront of our minds, businesses, now more than ever, are engaging with data protection and cybersecurity. With encryption and permissions settings being a key part of the regulation, one product which we recommend is Azure Information Protection (AIP). This is available within Office 365 as a bolt on or as standard with the more comprehensive plans.

This is the first blog in a three part series about AIP. Click these links to read about the importance of classification and labelling, and compliance and protection with AIP.

What is AIP?

AIP is one of the many features that Microsoft have created in order to keep your data safe. It can be applied to both Outlook email and SharePoint.

The main functionality of AIP is the ability for companies to set limits on documents and users’ actions. You’re able to choose who can view, print, copy from, and send documents, both from SharePoint Online and from your email. AIP also enables you to rescind access to a document after granting permissions, either manually or on a set timer (you might choose to rescind a user’s access to the document after three weeks for example).

Office 365 Message Encryption (OME) is an important aspect of AIP. It provides you with the ability to encrypt your emails. This means that your documents are not only classified with permissions, but they’re encrypted too providing an important additional layer of security.

AIP works with many different file types including PDFs, XPS, and the Office suite files.

Why do I need it?

AIP helps you understand and control where your data goes and how it is used. It can help you to:

  • Prevent your data being copied, modified, or stored without you knowing
  • Prevent unauthorised users from viewing your data
  • Have more control over your data by understanding who is using your data and how they’re using it
  • Meet compliance requirements

One of the huge benefits of AIP is its granular level of detail, which could help you with your GDPR compliance. Typically, for businesses this translates into being specific about why data is handled, your processes for handling data, and how and when you’ll delete the data.

The encryption aspect is also important for compliance. GDPR states that a data breach doesn’t need to be reported to the affected people if the data controller implemented appropriate protective measures such as encryption. This is because encrypted information is unreadable without the encryption key, so wouldn’t expose anything.

AIP is just one tool, that when used correctly, could help you achieve compliance.

How do I get it?

AIP, including OME, is available as an add-on to all Office 365 plans, however it comes as standard in the Office 365 E3 and E5 plans. You can also buy it through the Enterprise, Mobility and Security Suite (EMS).

For OME, unfortunately, users without Office ProPlus licences can only access AIP’s encryption functionality within Outlook Web Access and not the full desktop version. In order to resolve this issue, our inhouse coders have designed our own proprietary method allowing all AIP users access to encryption within the desktop regardless of Office 365 licence type, allowing users to make the most out of OME.

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