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Cover Your Assets: Information Protection, Data Loss Prevention, and Governance with Microsoft 365

Updated: Feb 9, 2022

May 25, 2021

Your data needs to be secured and protected. Are you prepared?

Data is constantly moving throughout your network. Even if you’ve implemented measures to keep data inside the safety of company platforms, some still may be slipping through—whether you’re aware of it or not. It’s for this reason alone that dozens of companies worldwide are investing in data loss prevention (DLP) solutions to safeguard sensitive data. One study by Gartner found that 90% of organizations will have implemented some type of DLP by 2021, up from the 50% reported in 2017.

It doesn’t take much for data to be exploited. Employees may accidentally send sensitive information to the wrong person. Some organizations simply don’t have any type of automatic data protection due to a lack of resources. Additionally, with more exit and entry points into the cloud than ever before, users can log in from anywhere in the world and from any device, increasing the attack range for hackers.

The risk involved around your data is huge. There are actions taken either deliberately or accidentally that put your business and your content at risk. Luckily, there are tools that completely safeguard private data within Microsoft 365. These DLP tools help to prevent most, if not all, data breaches, ensuring only authorized users are accessing and viewing company information. We’ll discuss those DLP features that work to safeguard data, paying particular attention to sensitivity labels below.

What is Data Loss Prevention?

The term data loss prevention refers to the tools and processes put in place to ensure that sensitive, private, or confidential data is not lost, misused, or accessed by unauthorized users. DLP software relies on policies that classify regulated, confidential, or critical data and works to identify any violations of these policies. Should a policy be violated, DLP immediately responds with alerts, encryption, or other protective actions to prevent either internal or external users from maliciously or accidentally sharing sensitive data.

Think of your data as a brand new puppy. It’s still learning what it can and can’t do, and as the owner, you have to train the dog to keep it under control—whether it’s leashed or running free. If the dog is unleashed, it has to learn to stay within the fence to stay safe. With unknown dangers lurking outside, it’s crucial to have a good strong fence to keep him or her protected.

The puppy in this analogy is your data, the fence is DLP, and the leash represents sensitivity labels. DLP is essentially the fence around business content that keeps everything within a safe environment and prevents unauthorized users from accessing information.

DLP software is constantly running in the background, searching SharePoint, OneDrive, Outlook, and other platforms for any type of security threat based on your DLP policies. These policies can be as finite or as broad as necessary depending on the information you’re looking to block. Should a user violate a policy, clear, detailed feedback is sent to the user letting them know why the information was blocked or why they weren’t authorized.

For example, if the DLP solution stops an email from being sent because it contains sensitive data, it will let the sender know that there are recipients who aren’t authorized to view certain information and that the email won’t be sent. Alerting users to what DLP policies you have in place trains them on what data and information they should and shouldn’t send, helping them be more proactive in protecting your data.

DLP Within Microsoft Teams

Within the past few months, Microsoft has extended data loss prevention capabilities into Microsoft Teams. These capabilities ensure that sensitive information that’s shared within documents, email communications, private chat channels, and more is not shared throughout the platform or outside a business network. For example, if a sender attempts to send an email with a credit card number included, the DLP policy would prevent it from being sent and alert the sender as to why.

What are Sensitivity Labels?

Sensitivity labels have become increasingly more popular among Microsoft 365 users. Essentially, it’s a label that determines how certain types of content or data are to be treated within your system. For example, some are used to encrypt sensitive or confidential documents, while others are used to apply watermarks. Before we dive further into the benefit of these labels, a quick history lesson. Prior to sensitivity labels, Microsoft relied on Azure Information Protection (also known as Azure Rights Management or Directory Rights Management). These labels were used to:

  • Control and track how and where content is used.

  • Analyze data flows for business insight.

  • Identify risky user behaviors and take appropriate action.

  • Track and control document access to prevent misuse or data leakage.

These labels utilize features such as visual markings (watermarks, headers, and footers), metadata that are added to files or emails for easier classification and action, and classification tools that can be detected regardless of where data is stored or whom it’s shared with.

Essentially, AIP laid the foundation for unified labeling within Microsoft 365. The tool has become significantly more mature and allows you to manage all sensitivity or retention labels directly within the platform, eliminating the need to utilize Azure. Additionally, by utilizing authorization, identity, and encryption policies, you’re able to remain in control of content even if it’s shared with other teams or used on other applications.

Returning again to the dog analogy. Sensitivity labels are the leash in this scenario. With some dogs, a tighter leash is needed to maintain control of the dog and keep it close by. Other dogs may be slightly more obedient so they’re kept on a longer leash and allowed to roam more freely. With your content, there may be some pieces that you want to keep close to the vest while others have more flexibility and freedom.

Take the First Step to Stronger Data Loss Prevention with JourneyTEAM

Data never sleeps. It’s constantly flowing throughout your business and it’s always maturing. As the amount of data grows, so do the threats against it. Just as a small puppy eventually grows up, it’s crucial to keep him or her under control and protected from outside threats. The same thing goes for your data. Implementing figurative fences and leashes around your content ensures that no unauthorized users can exploit sensitive information and wreak havoc on your business.

If you’re ready to get started with Microsoft’s powerful DLP tools, contact JourneyTEAM. As a Microsoft gold partner, we know the company’s DLP and security solutions intimately. Together, we’ll evaluate the current state of your team’s security and help you choose products and solutions that ensure the safety of your data. Contact a JourneyTEAM representative today!

For any additional questions, please contact Journeyteam at (801) 565-9199.

Why JourneyTEAM

JourneyTEAM is an award-winning consulting firm with proven technology and measurable results. As a Microsoft Gold Partner, we have extensive knowledge of each of Microsoft’s products including Dynamics 365, SharePoint intranet, Office 365, Azure, CRM, GP, NAV, SL, AX, and can help you tailor the software to fit the exact needs of your organization. We have solutions for sales, marketing, productivity, collaboration, analytics, accounting, security, and more. JourneyTEAM specializes in the industries of Finance, Media & Communications, Capital Equipment, Manufacturing, Installation, and Service. Whether you’re looking for total project support or someone to help you along the way, JourneyTEAM will provide the exact level of support you need.


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