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Protect your data now: Step-by-step Azure Information Protection Guide


Understanding Azure Information Protection

Safeguarding sensitive data is critical. Azure Information Protection (AIP), now known as Microsoft Purview Information Protection (MIP), has been integrated into Microsoft Purview, which is Microsoft’s suite of governance and compliance products. This integration provides a comprehensive solution to safeguard your organisation’s data, ensuring confidentiality, integrity, and compliance. Let’s delve into the concept of MIP and explore its significance.

What is Microsoft Purview Information Protection (formerly Azure Information Protection)?

Microsoft Purview Information Protection (formerly Azure Information Protection) is a cloud-based service offered by Microsoft that allows you to classify, label, and protect your data. Whether it’s documents, emails, or files, MIP ensures that sensitive information remains secure throughout its lifecycle.

Why is MIP important?

  1. Data security: MIP helps prevent data leaks by applying encryption, access controls, and rights management. Unauthorised users won’t be able to access sensitive content.
  2. Compliance: MIP assists organisations in meeting regulatory requirements (such as GDPR, HIPAA, or CCPA) by enforcing data protection policies consistently.
  3. User awareness: By labelling data appropriately, employees become more aware of its sensitivity. This promotes responsible handling and reduces accidental data exposure.

Setting up Microsoft Purview Information Protection (formerly Azure Information Protection)

  1. Ensure licensing is in place.
  2. Configure the system to integrate with your organisation’s environment.
  3. Set up labelling: Begin by making decisions about data classification, involving input from professionals to define appropriate classification labels.
  4. Implement Data Loss Prevention (DLP) policies to prevent labelled data from being shared outside the organisation, considering endpoint DLP for comprehensive protection.
  5. Tune your configuration, including adding alerts and blocking mechanisms to enhance security measures.
  6. Manage alerts and provide user support for sharing classified data, leveraging MSP support for efficient management and ongoing assistance.

Creating Microsoft Purview Information Protection (formerly Azure Information Protection) policies

Policies play a crucial role in MIP. Here’s how to create and implement them:

  1. Policy definition: Determine your organisation’s data protection requirements. For example, specify which labels require encryption or restrict external sharing.
  2. Policy assignment: Assign policies to user groups. Consider departmental needs and compliance requirements.
  3. Testing and refinement: Test policies in a controlled environment. Refine them based on user feedback and real-world scenarios.

1.     Classifying and protecting data

  1. Strategic Decision-making on Data Classifications: Before implementing Microsoft Purview Information Protection (formerly Azure Information Protection), the organisation needs to determine the necessary data classifications. There is no one-size-fits-all solution; finding the right balance is crucial:
    1. Having many classifications can lead to an explosion of policies that are hard to manage and enforce.
    2. Conversely, too few classifications may oversimplify data protection measures, potentially leaving sensitive information inadequately secured and increasing the risk of compliance issues.
  2. Data classification: Train employees on data classification. Teach them to recognise sensitive information and apply appropriate labels.
  3. Automatic classification: Leverage MIP’s automatic classification based on content inspection and metadata.
  4. Protection measures: Implement encryption, watermarking, and access controls based on label definitions.

Applying labels and protection to documents

  1. Labelling process: Educate users on labelling documents. Encourage consistent labelling practices.
  2. Protection settings: Configure protection settings (e.g., prevent printing, restrict forwarding) based on label requirements.

Monitoring and auditing data protection

  1. Audit logs: Regularly review audit logs to track MIP activities. Identify anomalies or policy violations.
  2. Data loss prevention (DLP): Implement Data Loss Prevention policies to provide control over information loss. DLP helps monitor and control the sharing of sensitive information, ensuring it is not inadvertently exposed or sent outside the organisation.
  3. User training: MIP Incorporate MSP support to continuously educate users on Microsoft Purview Information Protection (formerly Azure Information Protection) best practices. Regular training sessions reinforce data protection awareness and ensure adherence to security protocols.

Best practices for Microsoft Purview Information Protection (formerly Azure Information Protection)

  1. Regular updates: Ensure your tools and policies are up to date with the latest features and security patches.
  2. User feedback: Encourage users to provide feedback on the labelling and protection process to identify areas for improvement.
  3. Incident response: Establish a clear incident response plan for handling data breaches or policy violations.
  4. Integration with other security tools: Integrate MIP with other Microsoft security solutions such as Microsoft Defender for Identity and Microsoft Cloud App Security for enhanced protection.
  5. Policy reviews: Regularly review and update your MIP policies to adapt to new business requirements and regulatory changes.

Ensuring Data Security with Azure Information Protection

As data increasingly migrates to the cloud, it becomes more accessible to users and management, transforming into a valuable business asset. Protecting this asset becomes crucial, making Information Protection the new frontier for cloud-centric businesses. Establishing a robust data protection system can be challenging, but Microsoft Purview offers comprehensive capabilities to secure your data effectively. Many companies undertake the task of setting up a data classification policy only once, and the process can be daunting. Leveraging our extensive expertise in the Microsoft stack, we have successfully assisted numerous customers in safeguarding their data. We are committed to guiding you through this process and providing ongoing support to ensure your data remains protected.

Contact us to discuss data classification and learn how you can begin using Microsoft Information Protection (MIP) to enhance your security.

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