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New IRM Encryption Controls from Office 365

By Navin Chaturvedi, MetaOption LLC
Office 365 is rapidly cutting across different platforms to make its applications and services available to a larger audience. But even as Office 365 is pushing vigorously to expand its reach to more and more devices, security continues to be amongst its core values. To ensure secure experiences for its users across varying devices and platforms, Office 365 utilizes the best encryption techniques. These techniques are used in two ways; the first way is implementing encryption in the service, and the second one is offering encryption options as customer controls. In the former case, when the encryption is implemented in the service, it is made available to the users by default and they don't need to configure it. On the other hand, when encryption is offered as a customer control, the control of implementing the encryption is left to the users so that they can protect their sensitive data as per their requirements.




Amongst the encryption controls available today for Office 365, IRM control is perhaps the most advanced one. IRM is the abbreviation for Information Rights Management; it allows the users to secure their critical information by encrypting it and applying a prudent policy to ensure that only specific people can access the information. Office 365 allows the users to safely sync their IRM-protected documents to OneDrive for Business. Regardless of whether the user is opening the document on Office Online or on any local folder, the IRM protection continues to be in place, and it keeps applying the encryption settings even when the user is making any edits in the file.

Office 365 provides default templates with IRM, which can be customized as per the needs of the divisions and departments of the organization. Such departmental templates for IRM enable the users to define their scope. This means defining the list of individuals or groups who can apply a given template, and only those individuals or groups would be allowed to view and use the templates for protecting their documents.

At present, Office 365 is offering IRM capabilities in email experiences across all platforms. The newly released Mac Outlook also supports IRM, allowing the users to protect their emails and safely collaborate on Mac devices. Office 365 plans to extend its rich IRM experience to more applications across multiple platforms; a tentative timeline for this is:
  • Office apps for iPad and iPhone are expected to support IRM from the summer of 2015.
  • Office for Mac will start supporting IRM from the second half of 2015.
  • Office apps for Android devices will also support IRM from the second half of 2015   
  • Outlook for Windows 10 and Universal Office apps will start supporting IMR in the near future.
  • IMR support for Outlook apps for iOS and android devices is expected very soon.
More information can be found at http://www.metaoption.com/Services/Office365.aspx



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