Announcing new Microsoft Information Protection capabilities to know and protect your sensitive data
Published Dec 17 2020 01:59 PM 81.2K Views

Microsoft Information Protection (MIP) is a built-in, intelligent, unified, and extensible solution to protect sensitive data in documents and emails across your organization. MIP provides a unified set of capabilities to know and protect your data and prevent data loss across Microsoft 365 apps (e.g., Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook), services (e.g., Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, Exchange, Power BI), on-premises locations (e.g., SharePoint Server, on-premises files shares), devices, and third-party apps and services (e.g., Box and Dropbox).

We are excited to announce availability for new MIP capabilities:

  • General availability of Exact Data Match user interface in Microsoft 365 compliance center and configurable match
  • External sharing policies for Teams and SharePoint sites, in public preview
  • Customer key support for Teams, in public preview
  • Expansion of MIP sensitivity labels support to Power BI desktop application (PBIX), in public preview


Exact Data Match user interface in Microsoft 365 compliance center

The first step to effectively protect your data and prevent data loss is to understand what sensitive data resides in your organization. Foundational to Microsoft Information Protection are its classification capabilities—from out-of-the-box sensitive information types (SITs) to Exact Data Match (EDM). Out-of-box SITs use pattern matching to find the data that needs to be protected. Credit card numbers, account numbers, and Social Security Numbers are examples of data that can be detected using patterns. MIP offers 150+ out-of-the-box sensitive information types mapped to various regulations worldwide. EDM is a different approach. It is a classification method that enables you to create custom sensitive information types that use exact data values. Instead of matching on generic patterns, EDM finds exact matches of data to protect the most sensitive data in your organization. You start by configuring the EDM custom SIT and uploading a CSV table of the specific data to be protected, which might include employee, patient, or other customer-specific information. You can then use the EDM custom SIT with policies, such as Data Loss Prevention (DLP), to protect your sensitive data. EDM nearly eliminates false positives, as the service compares the data being copied or shared with the data uploaded for protection.

We continue to invest in and enhance our EDM service, increasing its service scale by a factor of 10 to support data files containing up to 100 M rows, while decreasing by 50% the time it takes for your data to be uploaded and indexed in our EDM cloud service. To better protect sensitive data uploaded into our EDM service, we added salting to the hashing process, which adds additional protection for the data while in transit and within the cloud repository. You can learn more about these EDM enhancements and details on how to implement in this three-part blog series.


Today we are announcing general availability of a user interface in the Microsoft 365 compliance center to configure and manage EDM in the portal, in addition to the option of using PowerShell. This allows customers who are unable to use PowerShell or prefer to use the UI to manage EDM. Learn more here.



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                                            Figure 1: Details of an Exact Data Match schema


We are also announcing general availability of configurable match (aka normalization). This feature will add additional flexibility in defining the matches, allowing you to protect your confidential and sensitive data more broadly. For example, you can elect to ignore case so customer email address will match whether it is capitalized or not. Similarly, you can choose to ignore punctuation such as spaces or dashes in the data such as for social security number. Learn more here.


External sharing policies for Teams and SharePoint sites

Core to Microsoft Information Protection are sensitivity labels. You can apply your sensitivity labels to not only protect document and emails but also to protect entire Teams and sites. In spring, we enabled you to apply a sensitivity label to a Team or site and associate that label with policies related to privacy and device access. This allows for holistically securing sensitive content whether it is in a file or in a chat by managing access to a specific team or site. Along with manual and auto-labeling of documents on SharePoint and Teams, this capability helps you scale your data protection program to manage the proliferation of data and the challenge of secure collaboration while working remotely.


We are pleased to announce that you can now also associate external sharing policies with labels to achieve secure external collaboration. This capability is in public preview. Administrators can tailor the external sharing settings according to the sensitivity of the data and business needs. For example, for ‘Confidential’ label you may choose to block external sharing whereas for ‘General’ label you may allow it.  Users then simply select the appropriate sensitivity label while creating a SharePoint site or Team and the appropriate external sharing policy for SharePoint content is automatically applied. It is common for projects at an organization to involve collaboration across employees, vendors, and partners. This capability further helps ensure only authorized users can get access to sensitive data in Teams and SharePoint sites.  


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          Figure 2: External sharing policies available alongside policy for unmanaged device access


Customer Key support for Teams

Microsoft 365 provides customer data protection at multiple layers, starting with volume-level encryption enabled through BitLocker, and then there is protection at the application layer. We offer Customer Key, so you can control a layer of encryption for your data in Microsoft’s data centers, with your own keys. This also enables you to meet requirements of compliance regulations for controlling your own keys.


Customer Key was already available for SharePoint, OneDrive, and Exchange. Today, we are pleased to announce that Customer Key is available in Public Preview for Microsoft Teams. You can now assign a single data encryption policy at the tenant level to encrypt your data-at-rest in Teams and Exchange. Click here to learn more.


Sensitivity labels in Power BI desktop

In June we announced general availability of MIP sensitivity labels in Power BI service, helping organizations classify and protect sensitive data even as it is exported from Power BI to Excel, PowerPoint and PDF files, all this without compromising user productivity or collaboration.

We’re now expanding MIP sensitivity labels support to Power BI desktop application (PBIX), in public preview, to enable content creators to classify and protect sensitive PBIX files while authoring datasets and reports in Power BI desktop. The label applied on PBIX files persist when uploaded to Power BI service. Learn more here.


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                         Figure 3: Sensitive built-in label experience in Power BI Desktop


We are also announcing the availability of a new API that enables administrators to get information on sensitivity labels applied to content in Power BI service. With this information, Power BI and Compliance admins can answer questions like which workspaces in Power BI service have reports with a specific label. Learn more here.

Data is the currency of today’s economy. Data is being created faster than ever in more locations than organizations can track. To secure your data and meet compliance requirements like the General Data Protection Requirement (GDPR) – you need to know what data you have, where it resides, and have capabilities to protect it. The above new capabilities are part of the built-in, intelligent, unified, and extensible solution that Microsoft Information Protection offers to enable both administrators and users to protect organization data while staying productive.


Getting Started

Here’s information on licensing and on how to get started with the capabilities announced today:

Maithili Dandige, Principal Group Program Manager

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