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Microsoft Previews Simpler Document Protection with Azure Information Protection

Microsoft is previewing a more simplified administrative approach to adding protection settings for documents when using its Azure Information Protection service.

Azure Information Protection is a document classification and information protection service in which access restrictions travel with documents. The service became a product last year, combining the capabilities of Microsoft's Azure Rights Management service with its acquired Secure Islands technology. However, even though Azure Information Protection is commercially released, some parts of it are still getting smoothed out.

One of those work-in-progress elements concerns how protection gets bestowed on documents via administrative portals. In an announcement today, Microsoft explained that adding protection or encryption to documents has previously required using "both the classic and new Azure management portals."

Now Microsoft is previewing a more "unified administrative experience" via the Azure portal. The preview permits classifications to be set within the Azure portal without having to go to the classic portal first to create RMS templates.

The basic classification process involves setting "labels" for documents, which essentially are metadata describing their classification. Previously, those labels had to be linked back to RMS templates, which was a clunky approach. That requirement is now gone with the preview.

In addition, the preview dispenses with a global administrator requirement. Now, security administrators also can "create labels and configure protection settings," Microsoft's announcement explained.

It's also now possible with the preview to protect content for anyone in a company. In addition, content can be protected for anyone at another company or a group of people at another company, per Microsoft's announcement.

While there are two portals now, Microsoft eventually is planning to move the Azure Information Protection management functionality to the Azure portal. That move is expected to get completed in July.

Microsoft also indicated that the Azure portal preview currently just works for new documents. In late May, another preview release is planned for release that will permit the "management of existing templates via the Azure portal."

The new management capabilities come on top of the addition of scoped policies, a capability added in February that permits label use based on group membership. Microsoft also added the ability to right-click to manually add protections to non-Office files, plus it added the ability to assign bulk classifications using PowerShell.

There's also a new unified client that combines labeling, protection and classification capabilities, which is available via Microsoft's Download Center. The unified client will replace the earlier released RMS Sharing App, which will fall out of support on Jan. 31, 2018.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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