Getting mobile with unified labels

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In today’s age we access and process information on a wide variety of platforms – in most cases either a pc, laptop or mobile device. And regardless of this device, protection our sensitive information is paramount.

This is not new. One of the more prominent aspects of Azure Information Protection was the ability to classify and protect documents regardless of its location or movement.

With capabilities like Microsoft Cloud App Security, Azure Information Protection Scanner, Windows Defender ATP and Windows 10, this premise is now a reality.



Office 365, as one of the cloud services, can now use the so-called sensitivity labels (part of the unified labeling solution) to provide classification and protection options for its users.

In this blog I want to focus on the mobile devices. One of the more recent enhancements by Microsoft is to include the unified labeling client to the native Office apps for iOS and Android.

Unified labeling on iOS

Let’s take a look at this function on iOS and you’ll be surprised how easy it works. From the Word app you can create or open a Word document. Using either the document’s details or the Home-menu option, you get to the “Sensitivity” option. In my (Dutch) case, this is called¬†Gevoeligheid.

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You simply select the label and the document is labeled and (if configured) protected. Opening the document on a Windows 10 machine, using a different user, I can see that the label was indeed applied and the protection is in-place.


Opening a document on iOS

let’s do this the other way around. In this case, I open a PowerPoint document on my Windows 10 machine and use the same classification. When I open the document on iOS, I can see the label and the permissions related to that label. Works like a charm!

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Other types of documents

Ok. So this works for Office documents. And it’s very easy at that. But, what about (let’s say) a PDF document? Or other non-Office documents. Well…… This kinda works different.

Unfortunately, no other mobile apps natively support the labels. But there is one app which can be used. And this app has been around for some time. It’s the Azure Information Protection viewer app.

This app allows you to open protected documents (for example, PDF) and keeps the protection of the document intact. It does have some drawbacks. For one, you will need to tell your mobile device to use this app. See the example below.

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In this example, I have to choose the option “Openen in een andere app” (or: Open in another app) to be able to view the protected PDF. Which is unfortunate, because the Adobe Acrobat app on the Windows 10 device does natively support the labeling.



But let’s be fair: that’s for Adobe to fix and itsn’t Microsoft’s issue.

Want more info:

All in all

Although the native integration of the labeling client into Office for Windows is still on the roadmap, it’s great to see this working on the iOS version. It really ensures that information can be labeled, protected and consumed however device we use to do that. Great stuff!




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