Data Loss Prevention in Office 365: Part Three


In part two of this mini-series on data loss prevention, I showed you how to create a new policy and explained the link between data loss prevention policies in Office 365 and sensitive information types.

This week, we’ll take a closer look at a policy’s configuration once it’s been created.

Credit Card Policy 4

Note the screenshot above, which shows the main page of the Exchange Admin Center’s data loss prevention section. As you can see, there are two policies in-place, one that tests for the presence of HIPAA information and another which reports the transmission of credit card data (searching for possible PCI violations).

We’re going to focus on the credit card data transmission report.

By clicking on the pencil icon while the policy you want to edit is highlighted, you’ll be brought to the general configuration page:

Credit Card Policy 1

In the general section, we name the policy, enter a description, choose the policy’s state (enabled or disabled) and choose a requirements mode (i.e., whether or not the policy will be enforced, test without policy tips or test with policy tips).

If you’re wondering about policy tips, see this comprehensive overview. The short version is that policy tips can be used to inform your Outlook 2013, OWA and OWA for mobile devices users that the message they’re sending may violate a policy (or at least, is triggering notice).

Once you’ve entered the information and actions you want, click the rules option on the left-hand side of the interface to configure finer-grained actions:

Credit Card Policy 2

In the example, I’ve already configured the sensitive information type used and the policy’s actions.  By clicking the pencil icon, we can take a closer look at what I did:

Credit Card Policy 3

In the name field, I entered the label “PCI DSS…”, the policy’s rule set has been configured to apply if:

  1. The recipient is located outside of the organization
  2. The message contains sensitive information (type: credit card number).

If these conditions are met, the policy will generate an incident report and send it to an internal recipient (email address obscured for this post). The “Custom Content” referenced is the following:

Credit Card Policy 8

And that’s all the time I have for now.  In the next post, we’ll finish our look at this policy and describe some of the other actions you can take.



Introducing the Office 365 Trust Center


Security is key.

And yet, it’s surprising how many of us overlook its importance until an outside factor – perhaps financial, legal or regulatory, or some unanticipated combination thereof – focuses our minds, bringing information security to the forefront.

This inattentiveness may be because of our difficulty discerning between perceived and actual risk.

Consider Office 365, for example.  Although company decision makers are eager to enjoy the (real or imagined) cost savings of moving messaging, collaboration and other critical technologies to ‘the cloud’, it’s often only later – after migration is complete, that serious questions are asked about data loss prevention, message hygiene and related matters.

Fortunately, Microsoft provides a hub for Office 365’s security features, the Office 365 Trust Center.

The Trust Center is a good resource for technology professionals who need to educate decision makers about Office 365’s data security strengths and weaknesses.  It’s also an excellent way to keep abreast of current thinking at Microsoft regarding data security.


Next week: Data Loss Prevention in Office 365, Part Three.




Data Loss Prevention in Office 365: Part Two


In a previous post, I provided a brief introduction to Office 365’s data loss prevention offering.

This time, we’ll walk through the process of creating a DLP policy from a template.

Before we start, let’s keep three key ideas in mind:

1.) Data Loss Prevention (DLP) policies are intended to prevent the accidental or malicious transmission of sensitive company and/or customer data (for example, emailing a social security number unencrypted to a recipient).

2.) In Office 365, DLP policies are built upon sensitive information types.

3.) Sensitive information types are, as the phrase implies, the confidential or otherwise protected information you want to prevent from being freely transmitted.

This TechNet link provides a listing of the current inventory of sensitive information types that can be used in a DLP policy.

So now let’s walk through the creation of a DLP Policy.

1.) Login to the Exchange Admin Center and choose compliance management and then, data loss prevention (note that in the screenshot, a policy for reporting credit card data is shown):

DLP Walkthrough 1
2.) Click the plus symbol to select New DLP Policy from template option



3.) Now you can browse through the selection of sensitive information types:

DLP Walkthrough 2


4.) Notice that the PCI Data Security Standard (or, PCI DSS) is selected. Click Save to continue.  You’ll be returned to the main screen.

DLP Walkthrough 1


5.) The DLP policy is in-place but its properties – including the actions you’d like it to take – have not been configured. Click the pencil icon to edit the policy.

DLP Walkthrough 3

6.) The general section is where you set the policy’s name, write a description, choose its state and also select whether or not you want the policy to be enforced or act in a testing mode.  Next, click the rules link.

DLP Walkthrough 4

And that’s it for now.  In the next post, we’ll complete the creation of this policy and review some of its finer grained elements.