December 08, 2022

How sensitivity labels protect business data


According to studies, more than 80 percent of organizations are not fully equipped to protect their sensitive business data from cyber-threats and losses. Most of this corporate data is ‘dark’ which means it is unclassified, lightly controlled, and can’t be monitored. Apparently, this raises data security issues and hence data governance becomes critical.

Further in this blog, we will learn about a strategy that Microsoft 365 uses to protect corporate data using a sensitivity label.

How Microsoft 365 helps in securing your data

Let’s start with addressing a few common data security concerns. In Microsoft 365 collaboration environment, there are multiple options such as Teams, SharePoint, OneDrive, and Outlook for document storage and sharing. Then, in Microsoft Teams, teams keep generating data of high intellectual value that flows across different apps, devices, and cloud services, both inside and outside an organization.

So, what does Microsoft 365 do to govern this data? How does it address emerging compliance and privacy requirements to meet the internal security objectives of a business?

Thankfully, Microsoft 365, complying with regulations, offers a robust set of data governance capabilities. With underlying security controls such as data loss prevention, advanced threat protection, cloud app security, and more, it shields your data, devices as well as users.

Additionally, to classify sensitive corporate information and regulate access to it, Microsoft 365 provides an awesome feature called ‘Sensitivity Labels’, which we are going to further explore in this blog.

What are sensitivity labels?

Sensitivity Labels are like stamps that you apply to your documents. This makes it easy to classify and protect your data. Sensitivity labels are the labels that you create as per the protection settings required by your business. You can apply these labels to encrypt files, add content marking and control user access. The protection settings are used to define different levels of protection in sensitivity labels. The labels once applied to a content circulate with the content throughout its lifecycle and protect the content in various ways.

You can configure the access rights using sensitivity labels to control information used in various ways. You can restrain editing in shared documents, block printing or downloading of documents by certain departments, disallow certain users such as the ones outside of your organization from opening a document, etc.

Besides, sensitivity labels can simply be used for classifying the content without using protection settings. This classification helps in generating reports to get better insights into content activity. Hence, you can analyze the amount of content produced, and its usage by different teams during cross and external collaboration.

Creating sensitivity labels

You can create and name your sensitivity labels according to your organization’s classification taxonomy for different sensitivity levels of content. If you don’t already have an established taxonomy, then Microsoft recommends the following label names –

  • Personal
  • Public
  • General
  • Confidential
  • Highly Confidential

Next, you need to define what each label can do by configuring the protection settings associated with each label. For example, you might want lower sensitivity content (such as a “General” label) to have just a header or footer applied, while higher sensitivity content (such as a “Confidential” label) should have a watermark and encryption. For highly confidential data, you can enable encryption and block offline access and forwarding.

Finally, you can publish the labels by using a label policy once your sensitivity labels are configured. You can also decide which users and groups should have the labels and what policy settings to use.

To learn about how to use sensitivity labels to protect your organization’s data in detail, please click here.

To be able to configure the sensitivity label feature, there must be at least one active Azure Active Directory Premium P1 license in your Azure AD organization.

To assign sensitivity labels to Microsoft 365 groups in Azure Active Directory, please click here.

Advantages of using sensitivity labels

Sensitivity labels is an excellent feature to safeguard your private documents by marking or tagging it. Now, let us learn how sensitivity labels offer you a big security advantage:

  • Sensitivity labels help you to classify information automatically and enact protections based on those classifications.
  • Using sensitivity labels, you can increase content visibility and effectively track your data to prevent accidental leakages.
  • Sensitivity labels are persistent as they follow the document in the metadata even if it is mailed.
  • You can set a policy to allow only a specific group of users to review certain information once it is sent by your employees to third-party contractors.
  • You can configure a time-limit for the availability of the content.
  • You can apply watermarks such as ‘do not copy this document or ‘do not share this document to alert the readers.
  • You can enable auto-labeling to detect sensitive content such as customer’s credit card details in emails or documents and restrain the ability to share the content. So, you need not worry even if your employees fail to label the content.
  • You can enforce the sensitivity label policies in third-party cloud-based apps and protect the content shared in them if they are unsanctioned.

Over to you

If you are planning to deploy this feature, we, at Cyclotron can help you to understand your data compliance and privacy requirements and how to implement the best strategies for data governance, and security to suit your business.

We can easily identify security gaps in your existing infrastructure and help you harness the full capabilities of Microsoft 365 to empower your workforce.

Using our flagship product ‘TeamsHub by Cyclotron‘, you can define an appropriate taxonomy for your sensitivity labels and align them to the right levels of protection. From a great pool of attractive automation and engagement features that TeamsHub by Cyclotron provides, sensitivity label is just one of them. Built for Microsoft 365 E3 and E5 suite, TeamsHub by Cyclotron is loaded with security features to govern your company data, monitor your workloads in real-time, and safeguard your business from potential threats and any kind of losses.

To know more about TeamsHub by Cyclotron, please visit or contact to request a demo

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