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What is Azure Rights Management?; 7 minutes to read; In this article. Applies to: Azure Information Protection, Office 365 Azure Rights Management (often abbreviated to Azure RMS) is the protection technology used by Azure Information Protection. Azure RMS is a cloud-based protection service that uses encryption, identity, and authorization policies to help secure files and emails. When you use Office for Mac (doesn't need the RMS sharing app), you can protect (as well as open) protected documents and emails. Office for Mac supports the Azure Rights Management service for protection when you have Office 2016 from Office 365 ProPlus, or Office Standard 2016 for Mac. To use IRM in Office, the minimum required software is Windows Rights Management Services (RMS) Client Service Pack 1 (SP1). The RMS administrator can configure company-specific IRM policies that define who can access information and what level of editing is permitted for an e-mail message. IRM in Office for Mac 2011 and Office for Mac 2016.

Applies to: Azure Information Protection, Office 365

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Azure Rights Management (often abbreviated to Azure RMS) is the protection technology used by Azure Information Protection.

Azure RMS is a cloud-based protection service that uses encryption, identity, and authorization policies to help secure files and emails across multiple devices, including phones, tablets, and PCs. Protection settings remain with your data, even when it leaves your organization's boundaries, keeping your content protected both within and outside your organization.

The following image shows how Azure RMS provides protection for Microsoft 365, as well as on-premises servers and services. Protection is also supported by popular end-user devices running Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.

Use Azure RMS with Microsoft 365 subscriptions or subscriptions for Azure Information Protection. For more information about individual subscription types and supported features, see the Azure Information Protection pricing site.

Sample Azure RMS use case

Employees might email a document to a partner company, or save a document to their cloud drive.

Using Azure RMS's persistent protection helps secure company data, and may also be legally required for compliance, legal discovery requirements, or best practices for information management.

Azure RMS ensures that authorized people and services, such as search and indexing, can continue to read and inspect the protected data.

Ensuring ongoing access for authorized people and services, also known as 'reasoning over data', is a crucial element in maintaining control of your organization's data. This capability may not be easily accomplished with other information protection solutions that use peer-to-peer encryption.

Business problems solved by Azure Rights Management

Use the following lists and tables to identify business requirements or problems that your organization might have in protecting documents and emails, and how the Azure Rights Management technology can address your needs.


If you are familiar with the on-premises version of Rights Management, Active Directory Rights Management Services (AD RMS), you might be interested in the comparison table from Comparing Azure Rights Management and AD RMS.

Protection features

Protect multiple file typesIn early implementations of Rights Management, only Office files could be protected, using native Rights Management protection.
Now, the generic protection that was first offered by the Rights Management sharing application, and now offered by the Azure Information Protection client means that more file types are supported.
Protect files anywhere.When a file is protected, the protection stays with the file, even if it is saved or copied to storage that is not under the control of IT, such as a cloud storage service.

Collaboration features

Safely share informationProtected files are safe to share with others, such as an attachment to an email or a link to a SharePoint site.
If the sensitive information is within an email message, protect the email, or use the Do Not Forward option from Outlook.
Support for business-to-business collaborationBecause Azure Rights Management is a cloud service, there’s no need to explicitly configure trusts with other organizations before you can share protected content with them.
Collaboration with other organizations that already have a Microsoft 365 or an Azure AD directory is automatically supported.
For organizations without Microsoft 365 or an Azure AD directory, users can sign up for the free RMS for individuals subscription, or use a Microsoft account for supported applications.

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Attaching protected files, rather than protecting an entire email message, enables you to keep the email text un-encrypted.

For example, you may want to include instructions for first-time use if the email is being sent outside your organization. If you attach a protected file, the basic instructions can be read by anyone, but only authorized users will be able to open the document, even if the email or document is forwarded to other people.

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Platform support features

Azure RMS supports a broad range of platforms and applications, including:

Commonly used devices
not just Windows computers
Client devices include:
- Windows computers and phones
- Mac computers
- iOS tablets and phones
- Android tablets and phones
On-premises servicesIn addition to working seamlessly with Office 365, use Azure Rights Management with the following on-premises services when you deploy the RMS connector:
- Exchange Server
- SharePoint Server
- Windows Server running File Classification Infrastructure
Application extensibilityAzure Rights Management has tight integration with Microsoft Office applications and services, and extends support for other applications by using the Azure Information Protection client.
The Azure Information Protection SDKs provide your internal developers and software vendors with APIs to write custom applications that support Azure Information Protection.
For more information, see Other applications that support the Rights Management APIs.

Infrastructure features

Azure RMS provides the following features to support IT departments and infrastructure organizations:

  • Create simple and flexible policies. Customized protection templates provide a quick and easy solution for administrators to apply policies, and for users to apply the correct level of protection for each document and restrict access to people inside your organization. For example:

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    • For a company-wide strategy paper to be shared with all employees, apply a read-only policy to all internal employees.
    • For a more sensitive document, such as a financial report, restrict access to executives only.
  • Easy activation. For new subscriptions, activation is automatic. For existing subscriptions, activating the Rights Management service requires just a couple of clicks in your management portal, or two PowerShell commands.

  • Auditing and monitoring services. Audit and monitor usage of your protected files, even after these files leave your organization’s boundaries.

    For example, if a Contoso, Ltd employee works on a joint project with three people from Fabrikam, Inc, they might send their Fabrikam partners a document that's protected and restricted to read-only.

    Azure RMS auditing can provide the following information:

    • Whether the Fabrikam partners opened the document, and when.
    • Whether other people, who were not specified, attempted, and failed to open the document. This might happen if the email was forwarded on, or saved to a shared location.

    In addition, the document tracking site lets users and administrators track, and if necessary, revoke access to protected documents.

  • Ability to scale across your organization. Because Azure Rights Management runs as a cloud service with the Azure elasticity to scale up and out, you don’t have to provision or deploy additional on-premises servers.

  • Maintain IT control over data. Organizations can benefit from IT control features, such as:

    Tenant key managementManage your own tenant key using the “Bring Your Own Key” (BYOK) solution, storing your tenant key in Hardware Security Modules (HSMs).
    Auditing and usage loggingUse auditing and usage logging features to analyze for business insights, monitor for abuse, and perform forensic analysis for information leaks.
    Access delegationDelegate access with the super user feature, ensuring that IT can always access protected content, even if a document was protected by an employee who then leaves the organization.
    In comparison, peer-to-peer encryption solutions risk losing access to company data.
    Active Directory synchronizationSynchronize just the directory attributes that Azure RMS needs to support a common identity for your on-premises Active Directory accounts, by using a hybrid identity solution, such as Azure AD Connect.
    Single-sign onEnable single-sign on without replicating passwords to the cloud, by using AD FS.
    Migration from AD RMSIf you've deployed Active Directory Rights Management Services (AD RMS), migrate to the Azure Rights Management service without losing access to data that was previously protected by AD RMS.


Organizations always have the choice to stop using the Azure Rights Management service without losing access to content that was previously protected by Azure Rights Management.

For more information, see Decommissioning and deactivating Azure Rights Management.

Security, compliance, and regulatory requirements

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Azure Rights Management supports the following security, compliance, and regulatory requirements:

  • Use of industry-standard cryptography and supports FIPS 140-2. For more information, see the Cryptographic controls used by Azure RMS: Algorithms and key lengths information.

  • Support for nCipher nShield hardware security module (HSM) to store your tenant key in Microsoft Azure data centers.

    Azure Rights Management uses separate security worlds for its data centers in North America, EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), and Asia, so your keys can be used only in your region.

  • Certification for the following standards:

    • ISO/IEC 27001:2013 (./includes ISO/IEC 27018)
    • SOC 2 SSAE 16/ISAE 3402 attestations
    • EU Model Clause
    • FedRAMP as part of Azure Active Directory in Office 365 certification, issued FedRAMP Agency Authority to Operate by HHS
    • PCI DSS Level 1

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For more information about these external certifications, see the Azure Trust Center.

Next steps

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For more technical information about how the Azure Rights Management service works, see How does Azure RMS work?

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