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Azure Active DirectoryAzure AD Security

How to use Azure Information Protection to track shared documents

Imagine sharing a confidential task with your team. You need to know who has access, where they are, and what they’re doing with the information. Azure Information Protection (AIP) acts as your mission control for sensitive documents. It meticulously tracks document access, logging details like who accessed it, when, and where. This way, if an unauthorized user tries to peek, you’re instantly alerted and can take action, ensuring your confidential files are kept secure.

The risks of sharing sensitive documents

Sharing sensitive documents with internal and external users is crucial for collaboration, but it also introduces security risks:

  • Data breaches: Accidental or malicious sharing can expose confidential information to unauthorized individuals.
  • Data loss: Sensitive documents can be unintentionally downloaded or copied, leading to data leaks.
  • Compliance violations: Sharing techniques might not comply with data privacy regulations like GDPR or HIPAA.

AIP offers robust features to protect shared documents:

  • Classification and labeling: Classify documents based on sensitivity and assign labels that define authorized actions (read, edit, etc.).
  • Protection and use rights: Control who can access documents, set access expiration dates, and prevent unauthorized copying, printing, or forwarding.
  • Tracking and reporting: Monitor document access details, including who accessed it, when, and their location.

How to configure AIP for document tracking

Follow these steps to configure AIP for effective document tracking:

1. Protect the document

  • Open the document you want to share in an Office application, such as Word or Excel.
  • Select “Protect” and then “Protect with custom permissions.”
  • Choose the authorization level, define the audience, and, if necessary, provide an expiration date.
  • Save the document after applying the protection settings.

2. Access the tracking portal

  • After saving the document, navigate to “Protect Track & Revoke.”
  • This will open the tracking site.
  • Log in with your Azure AD account to access information about the document being tracked.

3. Track document activity

  • View a summary of your document’s activity using the tracking site.
  • Monitor who has opened the document, track access information, and view activity timelines.
  • The portal provides information about when and where the document was accessed, allowing you to trace document consumption more efficiently.

4. Revoke access as needed

  • If necessary, you can revoke access to the document via the tracking portal.
  • By pressing the “Revoke access” option, you can prevent further access to the document.
  • This functionality is useful in circumstances when access must be revoked due to security concerns or changes in authorization.

Benefits of using AIP for document tracking

1. Enhanced visibility and control

  • Track document location and access: With AIP, you can determine exactly where all of your crucial files are, both within your business and externally if shared permissions allow. You can see which users or groups accessed the document.
  • Monitor document activity: Track changes in document access rights over time. This enables you to detect any illegal changes or potential breaches.
  • Identify possible leaks: Gain insight into how documents are shared and used. This can help you identify situations where documents were mistakenly shared with unauthorized parties.

2. Improved data security

  • Reduced risk of data breaches: By monitoring document access, you can detect suspicious activity and take steps to prevent unauthorized access or data leaks.
  • Enforced data loss prevention (DLP): AIP can be set up to prohibit document sharing based on predefined policies. This helps to prevent data loss, whether accidental or purposeful.
  • Improved regulatory compliance: Tracking document access helps verify compliance with data privacy rules such as GDPR and HIPAA.

In summary, AIP offers a comprehensive solution for document tracking, including enhanced security, visibility, compliance tools, encryption, labeling capabilities, and ease of use. It is an essential tool for organizations looking to effectively protect sensitive data.

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