Microsoft, an industry leader in cloud collaboration and security, is set to boost their security profile yet again with the launch of a new service application. Meet Office 365 Message Encryption. This new feature allows you to send encrypted emails to people outside of your organization and to any destination (i.e. Outlook, Yahoo, Gmail, etc.). Encrypted messages contain an algorithm that scrambles the document’s contents so it cannot be deciphered by unauthorized viewers. In turn, authorized viewers must authenticate, or enter a decryption key to view the message in a legible format.
Email encryption is nothing new, however if you’ve tried using it you know it’s anything but easy. The challenges limiting encryption success have been two-fold:
It is cumbersome and difficult to use.
It doesn’t work unless users on both ends are utilizing it (typically through a third-party software).
WHAT IS THE NEW SECURITY FEATURE IN OFFICE 365?
Microsoft took note of this and built an easy-to-use encryption feature that would protect sensitive business communications from unauthorized access and use. Below are just a few examples of where encryption is essential:
HOW IT WORKS:
Essentially, Office 365 Message Encryption is the new and improved version of Exchange Hosted Encryption (EHE). It includes all of the same features along with the ability to add your company’s branding, and more!
Additionally, Microsoft has made assigning transport rules easier. These rules allow for better flexibility and control and can all be managed via a web-based interface or PowerShell. Administrators simply choose to apply or remove encryption through the Exchange admin center. For those familiar with EHE, this new method is much more user-friendly. Once the administrator sets up the encryption rules, it is applied to any email throughout the organization that meets those conditions. Not only are outgoing messages encrypted but replies and forwards of that same message are also encrypted. Finally, custom branding is another new feature that allows the ability to not only add your company’s logo but also text in the header, disclaimer and portal.
Microsoft plans to release the new Message Encryption feature sometime this quarter (Q1 – 2014). Current Office 365 E3 and E4 users will get this service at no extra cost. It will also be included in Windows Azure Rights Management at no extra cost. For everyone else, the new service will run $2 per user per month and will include Rights Management capabilities such as Do Not Forward (internal only) and message encryption (internal + external).