Azure Information Protection (AIP) is a cloud-based solution that helps organizations discover, classify, and protect documents and emails by applying labels to content. AIP is part of Microsoft’s suite of information protection solutions that can be used for ensuring that sensitive information is not lost, misused, or accessed by unauthorized individuals.
Understanding AIP and Data Loss Prevention (DLP)
AIP works in conjunction with Azure’s Data Loss Prevention capabilities to prevent the accidental sharing of sensitive information. DLP policies in Microsoft 365 can be configured to use the labels that AIP applies. These policies can then take action to protect the information, such as blocking access to a document or notifying an administrator.
Before diving into setting up AIP for DLP, it’s important to understand the key components:
- Labels: Classification labels that are applied to content.
- Policies: Guidelines that determine what happens when a particular label is applied.
- Conditions: Specific scenarios or content that must be present for a policy to take effect.
- Actions: The steps taken when a condition within a policy is met.
- Protection Templates: Pre-defined settings for Rights Management Services (RMS) that can be applied to labeled content.
Preparing Azure Information Protection
Before you can use AIP to prevent data loss, you need to set up your environment correctly.
- Identity and Access Management: Ensure all users are appropriately authenticated and authorized.
- Compliance Standards: Understand any regulatory compliance needs for your data, such as GDPR or HIPAA.
- AIP Client Installation: Deploy the AIP client to all user devices that will be interacting with protected content.
Setting Up Azure Information Protection
- Define Your Classification Labels:
- Create labels: Define sensitivity labels in the AIP blade of the Azure portal. Labels can include “Public”, “General”, “Confidential”, and “Highly Confidential”.
- Define protection settings: For each label, specify RMS templates that set permissions for actions like viewing, editing, and forwarding.
- Publish Labels:
- Once you’ve created your labels and configured their settings, you need to publish them. This process makes your labels available to users and systems within your organization.
- Educate Users:
- Provide training and resources to ensure that users understand how to classify documents and emails correctly.
Automating Classification and Protection
- Automated Label Policies: Create policies that automatically apply labels based on the content, context, and other conditions like the presence of specific sensitive information.
- Test and Refine: Begin with a simulation mode to see what would be labeled and how the policy would act before fully enforcing it.
- Advanced Settings: Use conditions and scoped policies for granular control, such as applying a label only when content is shared outside the organization.
Monitoring and Administering AIP
- Usage Reports: Monitor how your labels are being used across the organization.
- Incident Reports: Set up alerts for specific events, such as when information labeled as ‘Highly Confidential’ is sent outside the organization, so incidents can be investigated.
- User Reports: Track individual user behavior to ensure compliance with AIP policies.
Best Practices for Utilizing AIP for DLP
- Consistency: Ensure that labels are applied consistently across documents and emails.
- Integration: Use AIP in conjunction with other DLP tools and strategies to provide a multi-layered approach to information protection.
- Regular Auditing: Perform regular audits of your AIP setup to identify opportunities for improvement.
- Policy Updates: Revise and update policies as organizational needs change or as new types of sensitive information need to be protected.
Azure Information Protection is a powerful tool for preventing data loss within your organization. By defining sensitive information types, applying appropriate labels, configuring policies, and monitoring activity, businesses can ensure that critical data is adequately protected against unauthorized access or accidental leaks. It is essential to not only set up the system correctly but also to provide ongoing training for users, continual policy refinement, and robust reporting to maintain the strength of your DLP strategies.