Microsoft Information Protection and Unified Labeling


If you attended the Microsoft Ignite conference or read the about the Modern Workplace announcements at the event, you may have learned about some exciting privacy and compliance announcements. Yes, I used exciting and compliance in the same sentence! At Microsoft Ignite, we announced the availability of centralized management of labels and protection settings in the Security & Compliance Center. We also announced previews of labeling functionality in Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook on Mac, as well as in Word and PowerPoint on iOS and Android.

This is welcome news for those of you who have leveraged Azure Information Protection (AIP) in your Office 365 tenants, where labels defined in Office 365 and Azure Information Protection were not the same thing. Previously, a data loss prevention (DLP) label policy created in Office 365 meant DLP only applied to data in Office 365, and AIP labels were not visible for use in Office 365 DLP policies. Office 365 labels are for retention, and there are policies for DLP where you can use a retention label as a condition in a DLP policy. Trying to keep this all straight can understandably get confusing.

Introducing Microsoft Information Protection

What is the promise of Microsoft Information Protection? The unified labeling experience in Microsoft 365 provides organizations with a more integrated and consistent approach to creating, configuring, and automatically applying comprehensive policies to protect and govern your data—across devices, apps, cloud services, and on-premises. We are introducing one surface to administer all these capabilities so you can define policies in one place and not have to translate them across solutions, clouds, or premises.

Getting started

You can get started testing the new unified labels experience in the Office 365 Security & Compliance Center for yourself with the demo tenants available from Microsoft at demos.microsoft.com. Simply create a quick tenant, which will give you an environment with Office 365 E5 as well as Azure Information Protection. You’ll have default labels already set up in AIP to migrate.

After logging into your tenant with the global admin credentials provided, the first step is make sure your tenant is ready for migration by confirming that you can edit and publish sensitivity labels in the Office 365 Security & Compliance Center. Sensitivity labels should be available for all tenants at this point, but I still hear from some of you that they aren’t. To check, start from the Office 365 Security & Compliance Center. Then go to Classifications > Labels, and see whether you have a Sensitivity tab. If you do not see this tab, your tenant is not yet ready for sensitivity labels and you should not migrate AIP labels at this time. If you do see the Sensitivity tab, you’re ready!

Next, you’ll sign in to the Azure portal, which will direct you to the Unified labeling blade. From there, select Activate and follow the online instructions. Labels that successfully migrated can now be used by clients that support unified labeling. However, you must first publish these labels in the Security & Compliance Center. To get started labeling, start using the Office apps in preview for Mac, iOS, and Android to enable preview users to label their documents and emails.

You can enable your Windows users to do the same by downloading the preview Azure Information Protection client. For the full details and the fine print, see the documentation.

Join our call to learn more

For a more in-depth look at this topic, join our November Modern Workplace Productivity Partner Community call – Microsoft Information Protection and Unified Labeling in Microsoft 365 on Friday, November 9 at 10 a.m. PT, where we’ll review the announcements and new experiences from Ignite, including:

  • General availability of centralized management of labels and protection settings in the Security & Compliance Center
  • Preview of labeling functionality in Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook on Mac
  • Preview of labeling in Word and PowerPoint on iOS and AndroidWe’ll also give you tips for getting started using unified labels in Microsoft 365.Sign up for the November 9 call here.

We’ll also give you tips for getting started using unified labels in Microsoft 365.

Sign up for the November 9 call here.

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