As businesses rely more on mobile and cloud systems, greater emphasis is placed on protecting their information while retaining the productivity benefits.
Microsoft is launching a new service to help businesses guard their data as it travels between devices and servers. Azure Information Protection builds on both the existing Microsoft Azure Rights Management (Azure RMS) and the company's acquisition last year of information protection business Secure Islands.
The service will allow enterprises to use policies to classify and label data in intuitive ways based on the source, context and content of the data. Classification can be fully automatic, user-driven or based on a recommendation. Once data is classified and labeled, protection can be applied automatically on that basis.
Once classified the protection information travels with the data, ensuring that it's protected at all times, regardless of where it's stored, who it's shared with, or what OS the device is running. Data can be shared safely with users within an organisation as well as with external customers and partners. Document owners can define who can access data and what they can do with it - for example, recipients can be allowed to view and edit files, but not print or forward them.
Data classification and protection controls are integrated into Office and common applications, offering simple one-click options to secure data. In-product notifications provide recommendations to help users make the right choices. This also means that document owners can track activities on shared data and revoke access when needed.
"This new approach delivers data protection, as well as innovative and intelligent new detection capabilities for security teams, while retaining great productivity experiences for people at work," says Dan Plastina, group manager, Microsoft Rights Management. "In this new approach, protecting employee identity is the foundation of how Microsoft on-premises products and cloud services help you secure and manage devices, apps and data. Enterprise Mobility Suite is a great example of this, and Azure Information Protection is yet another example of this identity-driven approach to security".
A public preview of Azure Information Protection will be available next month but meantime there's a video with more information on how it works above.