Microsoft Azure Information Protection Unveiled - InformationWeek
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6/23/2016
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Microsoft Azure Information Protection Unveiled

The Redmond giant announces a new service to provide data protection based on a company's policies, as information is created, moved to the cloud and shared with employees, partners and customers devices.

7 Ways Cloud Computing Propels IT Security
7 Ways Cloud Computing Propels IT Security
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Microsoft Wednesday announced it is planning to launch next month a public preview of a new service that aims to incorporate an enterprises' policies on how data should be protected when in the cloud moved to mobile devices.

The Microsoft Azure Information Protection service is designed to apply a company's policies on data when it is created, then moved to the cloud and shared with mobile devices held by employees, customers and partners, Microsoft announced in a blog post.   

"As our customers continue to digitally transform their businesses, and as the mobile- and cloud-first world continues to evolve, Microsoft has led the way with significant new innovations to enable secure productivity in the enterprise," Dan Plastina, Microsoft's director of program management, C&E Security, said in the blog post.  "This new approach delivers data protection, as well as innovative and intelligent new detection capabilities for security teams, while retaining great productivity experiences for people at work."

(Image: Nicolas McComber/iStockphoto)

(Image: Nicolas McComber/iStockphoto)

The new service takes Microsoft Azure Rights Management (Azure RMS) service and incorporates the data protection technology gained from the software giant's November 2015 acquisition of Secure Islands.

Under the new Azure Information Protection service, Microsoft is seeking to offer enterprises the ability to:

  • Use policies to classify and label data based on the source of who created it, its context and content.
  • Roll out persistent protection that travels with the data, regardless of where it is stored, who it is shared with, and the operating system used on the device.
  • Define who has access to the data and what they can do with it, when it is shared.
  • Track activities on shared data and revoke access when needed.
  • Protect data in the cloud or on-premises, with the ability to also choose management of encryption keys.

Pricing for the service has not yet been released, but the Redmond giant notes that current Azure RMS customers can continue to use their existing service without charge until Azure Information Protection service is generally available later this year.

[See 7 Ways PaaS Delivers Business Value.]

Microsoft did not indicate its plans for continuing with Azure RMS once Azure Information Protection is available, but said in its blog post that current Azure RMS customers "will begin to receive expanded capabilities" after the new service is rolled out. This may suggest that Azure RMS could possibly be folded into the new service, but Microsoft has not yet responded to requests for comments on the matter.

The issue of compliance and security in the cloud has been around for at least a half dozen years, with noted research firms like Sans Institute chiming in on the issue.  But the rise in mobile devices accessing the cloud add another layer of complexity and security issues that companies like Microsoft and others are now having to address.

Dawn Kawamoto is an Associate Editor for Dark Reading, where she covers cybersecurity news and trends. She is an award-winning journalist who has written and edited technology, management, leadership, career, finance, and innovation stories for such publications as CNET's ... View Full Bio

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