Microsoft today announced a new service called Office 365 Message Encryption. Through the service, users can send encrypted emails not only within their company or organization, but also outside it to people who’re using any other email service from any provider. Office 365 Message Encryption is actually a version of Exchange Hosted Encryption, it includes all features of EHE plus new ones such as the ability to apply custom branding to encrypted messages. The service works with Office 365 mailboxes and on-premises mailboxes using Exchange Online Protection.

Setting up encryption isn’t complicated at all. Administrators will be able to set up transport rules to apply encryption when emails match a certain criteria. Once rules have been set up, whenever anyone in the company or organization sends an email that matches the rules, it will automatically be encrypted. To prevent misdirection or spoofing, encryption is applied before the email is handed over to the outside mail server. When the recipient replies or forwards the email, it will also be encrypted. Message encryption interface is based on Outlook web app, so it won’t be hard for users to perform tasks like attach, insert, reply, forward etc. Office 365 Message Encryption will be available for free to Office 365 E3 and E4 users, it is included in Windows Azure Rights Management that’s already included in the aforementioned plans. It is included in the standalone version of Windows Azure Rights Management and costs $2 per user, per month. The service will be available early next year.

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