Automatic classification with Sensitivity Labels in SharePoint Online, OneDrive and Exchange

Microsoft are making automatic classification available across Microsoft 365 E5 subscriptions, providing a welcome boost to the platform’s information protection capabilities.

Sensitivity Labels are a central part of Microsoft’s information protection capabilities in Microsoft 365. They let organisations define meaningful labels for content (such as “Internal”, “Public” and “Personal”), then associate these labels with protection like encryption and visual markings.

Addressing the governance overhead

Sensitivity labels are applied to the file rather than where it is held, so protection can persist even if the file is shared outside of the organisation.

Typical information governance policies require users to apply an appropriate label to content when they create or edit it. This approach carries an overheard, in that users must be aware of the feature and trained to use it. It can also become an issue when scaled across large, legacy data stores. The result is that sensitive data may not be protected appropriately.

Introducing automatic classification

To address this, Microsoft have announced the general availability of automatic classification with sensitivity labels in SharePoint Online, OneDrive, and Exchange. This lets organisations automatically discover and label sensitive data using tailored rules based on standard policies, grouped by industry. These policy templates cover Financial data, Medical and Health or Privacy, and can be supplemented with custom organisational rules.

Auto-labelling policies are created within the Microsoft 365 Security & Compliance Centre. Microsoft have made a ‘simulator’ available to let you test draft policies on data before publishing them to SharePoint, OneDrive or Exchange.

Users will see that content has been auto-labelled, and can update this label if required (in accordance with the organisation’s existing labelling policy).

Please note that automatic classification is an advanced capability and is included with Office 365 E5, Microsoft 365 E5, Microsoft E5 Compliance and Microsoft E5 Information Protection & Governance subscriptions.

If you are facing Information Protection, Governance or Security challenges around the Microsoft 365 platform, or would simply like to find out how you can secure and protect your vital business data, get in touch with CompanyNet. Our friendly team are experts in Microsoft Information Protection and would be happy to discuss your needs.

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