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​​Microsoft Sensitivity Labels

Sensitivity labels are a feature of Microsoft Office apps and services, which allow documents, emails, meetings and calendar events to be classified according to the type of data they contain. Having these items correctly marked with the appropriate label helps to ensure that the University Information Security Classification Scheme and related data management policies are being followed, while enabling people to collaborate and share information safely.

For further information on records management and data protection, please see the Governance Services pages on the staff intranet​.

Which University staff have the ability to use sensitivity labels?

Sensitivity labels are currently being trailed by staff in a small test group. It is expected that this will then expand to include all Information Services and People Team staff, followed by other staff across the University as part of a wider roll-out.

Which sensitivity labels are available?

There are currently 3 sensitivity labels available, corresponding to the 3 data classifications in the Information Security Classification Scheme:
  • Open
  • Internal
  • Confidential
Details of what these classifications mean and when they should be applied are available in the scheme.

How do I make use of sensitivity labels in Microsoft products?

For University staff who have been given the ability to use sensitivity labels, there should be a prominent ‘Sensitivity’ option within the interface of the relevant application:

Screenshot of Sensitivity options​​
For further guidance, please see this Microsoft support article​ which includes platform-specific information.

Does applying a sensitivity label to an item impose any restrictions on how that item can be shared?

Not at the current time, no. Items with the ‘Internal’ and ‘Confidential’ labels should have limited scope for sharing outside the University or to certain types of recipient e.g. students, so we will be investigating the controls that can be put in place to make use of these labels.

Which Microsoft services support the use of sensitivity labels?

Initially, we have enabled sensitivity labels on the following services:
  • Microsoft Office apps – Word, Excel, PowerPoint on Windows, Mac, mobile and web
  • Microsoft Outlook – Windows, Mac, mobile and web
  • Microsoft OneDrive – Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF files

At a later date, it is likely that we will extend sensitivity labels to cover the following additional services:
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Microsoft SharePoint

Enabling support for sensitivity labels in these services will allow labels to be applied to containers and collections of documents, rather than needing to label items individually.

Do newly-created items have a default sensitivity label?

This feature is available and may be implemented in the future, but there is currently no default sensitivity label.

Do items have to be labelled / is labelling mandatory?

As with default labels above, this is an available feature but we are not making the use of sensitivity labels in supported services mandatory at the current time.

What happens if I mis-label an item, or believe that the label on an item is incorrect?

If you apply the wrong sensitivity label to an item or notice that the existing label is wrong, you can easily change it to the correct one. In the future, you may be prompted to provide justification for changing the sensitivity label on an item.

If I copy, move or rename an item, do I need to re-apply the sensitivity label?

No, the sensitivity label is embedded in the item as metadata, so it stays with the content no matter where it's saved or stored.

Is it possible for sensitivity labels to be applied automatically to items based on their content?

This feature exists and may be enabled at a later date once we are confident in its capabilities, but for now we are only looking to apply sensitivity labels to items manually.