Sensitivity settings add security for Office documents

Office now has sensitivity options to label Word, Excel, PowerPoint docs plus emails.  Not ‘touch-feely’ sensitivity like ‘loving’ or ‘compassionate’ but instead corporate, privacy labels.

It’s a new feature for Office 365 corporate hosted E3 or E5 accounts and the admins have enabled Sensitivity options.

Sensitivity appears on the Home tab in Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook with a drop down set of options.

Source for all images in this article: Microsoft

Sensitivity labels are configured by admins and can include:

  • Non-business
  • Public
  • General (usually the default)
  • Confidential
  • Highly Confidential

Labels can have sub-labels.

More than a sensitivity tag

These are more than just tag or labels for the document.  Administrators can force changes to a document depending on the Sensitivity level.

Sensitivity is linked to the long-standing Information Rights Management part of Office 365 corporate hosting.  Once a Sensitivity level is selected the document/email can change.

  • Encryption is enforced with Information Rights Management
  • A header or footer can appear in your document or email
  • A watermark might appear in your document

Source: Microsoft

Admins can make Sensitivity choices compulsory. They have the option “Require users to apply a label to their email or documents” however, at the moment, that option isn’t enforced by all Office software.

Changing Sensitivity level

Switching to a lower sensitivity level might have to be justified.

When does Office become Sensitive?

Sensitivity options are being rolled out to all Office 365 incarnations between now and the end of 2019.

Firstly on Office for Mac (v16.21 and above), iPhone/iPad (v2.21), Android (16.0.11231).  Outlook for Apple/Android get Sensitive later in 2019. Office for Windows gets the feature starting with Insiders in version 1908 (out now).  Office Online/Web also gets the feature later in 2019.

It all depends on Office 365 administrators.  They must enable and configure Sensitivity for the organization before the button appears on Home tabs.

For more information about Sensitivity Labels read this.

Known problems are a big deal

Vital reading is Known issues with sensitivity labels in Office .  Admins have an option to require Sensitivity labels on all documents but, at the moment, Office for Mac, Apple and Android do NOT honor that setting.