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Microsoft Extends Data Loss Prevention to Cloud App Security

The update, one of several announced today, is intended to help employees remain compliant when handling data across cloud applications.

Microsoft today rolled out security updates and features for its Microsoft Compliance platform, with the goal of helping organizations protect data and address compliance regulations at a time when more employees are accessing sensitive corporate information from remote offices.

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As the number of remote employees continues to grow, so too do enterprise concerns around industry regulations and custom requirements. Remote work demands people create, store, and share data in new ways, says Alym Rayani, general manager for Microsoft Compliance, in an interview ahead of this week's Microsoft Ignite conference.

"Achieving compliance was complex before, and that complexity and that challenge has exacerbated," he explains. Regulations are moving faster and growing more complicated; as they do, the audit process remains antiquated and slow. It's increasingly difficult for businesses to stay up to date on regulations and manage the complexity that comes along with them.

Compliance Manager, generally available today, brings together the existing Compliance Manager and Compliance Score tools in the Microsoft 365 compliance center. Compliance Manager has more than 150 out-of-the box and scalable assessments so teams can check industry- and region-specific requirements.

With these, they can map the controls associated with specific regulations to recommended actions and give a risk-based score. This gives the organization a better idea of how they're doing, as well as steps for improvement. A data protection component maps to controls around how the organization protects information with encryption and multifactor authentication.

Compliance Manager can be used to handle data both inside and outside Microsoft apps and services. New "connectors" can pull data from other apps into Microsoft Compliance to help protect and govern that information. These new connectors include SMS/text connectors for telecom operators (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile), in addition to WhatsApp, Zoom, and Slack.

Microsoft is also announcing new APIs so its partners and customers can integrate Microsoft Compliance tools with existing applications and services in SecOps ecosystems. These include a Teams Data Loss Prevention (DLP) API, so third-party tools can integrate DLP capabilities for Teams; an eDiscovery API, which enables automation of Advanced eDiscovery processes; and Teams Export API, which allows the export of Teams messages, attachments, and user mentions.

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced the public preview of Microsoft Endpoint DLP and added built-in DLP to Windows 10, Office applications, and its Edge browser. The goal was to prevent risky data sharing, transfer, or use across apps and services. Now, Microsoft is bringing the same capabilities to its cloud security service.

The company's DLP tools will now be extended to Microsoft Cloud App Security (MCAS), a new capability now available in public preview. This expands the integration for DLP policy-based inspection across connected applications including Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, Webex, OneDrive, SharePoint, and others. This helps employees remain compliant when handling data across applications and ensures sensitive information isn't shared inappropriately.

"That's a big milestone for us," says Rayani of the extension to third-party cloud applications. In the admin center, which will have the option to check a box if they want MCAS to extent to a specific application. If a user does something like try to share a file via the Box app on their corporate phone, MCAS will trigger an alert and the admin will receive a notification.

It's worth noting that DLP in MCAS uses the same DLP policy framework common across all Microsoft DLP offerings to provide a consistent user experience.

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