Encrypting Email with Office 365

Normal email isn’t secure. Snoopers can intercept it and read it. Unlike the Web, email doesn’t have any standard way to send data securely. If you’re sending highly confidential email, the risk could be unacceptable. You should learn about encrypting email.

Fortunately, Microsoft Office 365 provides three ways to encrypt email, making it nearly impossible for anyone to spy on it. Each method has its own advantages, depending who’s getting the mail.

Encrypting Email with Office 365

Office Message Encryption (OME) lets you send encrypted messages to any address, not just another Microsoft-based one. The administrator sets up rules about which messages are encrypted, so the user doesn’t have to remember to do it. The recipient can decrypt the message with an Office 365 account or request a one-time passcode by email, which expires in 15 minutes.

Information Rights Management (IRM) provides tighter security. The sender can prohibit forwarding, though knowledgeable recipients can override it. It uses Azure Rights Management, and only someone with the designated use license can decrypt an IRM message. Only certain applications can handle these messages, so people who don’t have Office 365 accounts will have trouble reading them. As with OME, the administrator can set up rules to automate encryption.

S/MIME is a vendor-neutral standard that uses public-private key encryption. You can send messages to anyone who has a public encryption key. It provides a high level of confidence that only the authorized recipient can read the message. It encrypts the whole message, so there’s no way to check S/MIME messages for malware or spam.

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