General availability of 'know your data'
Published May 14 2020 09:32 AM 15.9K Views

Announcing general availability of ‘know your data’ (discovery and review capabilities) in the Microsoft 365 compliance center


As employees shift to working remotely, it is more important than ever that organizations prioritize protecting their business-critical and sensitive data. Your employees are accessing, sharing, creating, and storing data in new ways, and you need to make sure this is being done in a protected and compliant manner. At Microsoft, our goal is to provide a built-in, intelligent, unified, and extensible solution to protect and govern your data across your digital estate – in Microsoft 365 cloud services, on-premises, third-party SaaS applications, and more. With our Information Protection & Governance solution, we are building a unified set of capabilities for discovery, classification, labeling, protection, and governance not only in Office apps, but also in other popular productivity services where information resides (e.g. SharePoint, Exchange, OneDrive).


Know your sensitive data


The first step in the journey to protect and govern your data is getting a holistic understanding of the sensitive data in your digital estate. The data classification capabilities in the Microsoft 365 compliance center enable you to discover, classify, review, and monitor your data and establish appropriate policies to better protect and govern critical data (e.g. by applying sensitivity and retention labels or data loss prevention policies).

Today, we are excited to announce the general availability of ‘Overview’, ‘Content explorer’, and ‘Activity explorer’ capabilities to give you a holistic view of your sensitive data.


The Overview tab shows you at-a-glance the most common sensitive information types and labels used in your organization and how they are being used. You do not need to set up any policy to understand these details.



Figure 1. Overview tab showing a quick snapshot of data classification and usage of sensitivity and retention labels


The Content explorer tab provides you with a richer understanding of data at risk by displaying the amount and types of sensitive data in a document. An integrated viewer displays the full content in documents or emails for those with appropriate permissions. You can also filter by label or sensitive type to get a detailed view of locations where sensitive data is stored. Based on your feedback, we have added the ability to ‘Search’ and find sensitive files in specific locations or by specific file types or file names.  You can also now ‘Export’ the meta data of content displayed into Excel, for further reporting and investigation, with a single click.



Figure 2. Integrated viewer showing contents of document in the ‘Content explorer’ tab


Note: OneDrive views in this experience will remain in ‘preview’ mode while we incorporate your feedback. We appreciate your continued support on this and thank you for your feedback.


The Activity explorer tab provides a better understanding of activities related to your sensitive data, sensitivity and retention labels , such as decreased protection due to label downgrades or changes. It helps you investigate events that could be leading towards data leak scenarios (e.g., removal of labels). Understanding these activities gives you the ability to identify the right policies for protection or data loss prevention (DLP) to ensure that your most sensitive data is secure.



Figure 3. Activity explorer tab displaying activity related to sensitive information


Customer feedback 


A large financial services customer, for example, used these new capabilities to discover vulnerable data on their 8000 SharePoint sites and then prevent its overexposure, thereby reducing their risk on vulnerable data.


Several other customers have shared that they were pleasantly surprised to see the quantity and quality of insights available in Content explorer and Activity explorer, and it prompted them to create protection policies they had previously not considered. Microsoft’s IT also relies on these capabilities to ensure that the data in over 150,000 mailboxes and 300,000 SharePoint /Teams sites is protected even as a huge amount of sensitive data continues to be created and shared.


“Content explorer is a welcome addition to my remediation and tuning efforts.  In the past, when I wanted to get a sense of the impact of a particular policy, we would run eDiscovery searches to know the amount of data out there that matches a particular sensitive type (built-in or custom). Now with Content Explorer, I can get a quick sense of the number of findings by simply selecting the sensitive type from the many filters available within Content Explorer. From there, I can explore those items to understand the signal to noise ratio and progress with my remediation efforts. The key is that I can quickly search for the site name and then the file name, which helps me to review content quickly without making copies of content. This used to take a lot of time but now with this tool I can do it in half the time.” John Cardarelli, Data Loss Prevention Architect in Microsoft’s IT Department


Get started


Overview, Content explorer and Activity explorer enable you to discover, classify, review, and monitor sensitive data in your Microsoft 365 services like SharePoint and Exchange ‘in place’ without having to move your data elsewhere. To learn more about how these capabilities enable you to know your sensitive information, watch this short video and see our online documentation. To experience this capability, click on ‘data classification’ in the Microsoft 365 compliance center. With a Microsoft 365 E3 license you can benefit from the Overview tab and get programmatic access to basic reporting and audit. Microsoft 365 E5 licensing SKUs (e.g. E5 Compliance and E5 Information Protection & Governance) get you access to advanced capabilities like Content explorer and Activity explorer. You can learn more about our licensing here.


We are excited to roll out general availability of these data discovery and review capabilities for SharePoint and Exchange today. We will continue to add more workloads like Office client apps, endpoints, Teams, on-premises. We are committed to expanding on these capabilities to enhance your ability to protect and govern data. We are working hard at other exciting innovations - stay tuned!






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Last update:
‎May 11 2021 01:56 PM
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