Sunday, February 10, 2008

Email Security – Outlook Forms and Right Management Service

As we all know we can use Right Management Service to protect sensitive information and keep internal information internal. You can read one of my Rights Management Service (RMS) article on the following location:

http://www.msexchange.org/Santhosh_Sivarajan/

Also, you can protect your email by using Outlook forms. We can disable "Forward" (same as "Do not forward" option in RMS), "Reply to All" etc options using outlook form instead of using Rights Management Service (RMS). In this article I will explain how we can easily protect an email using Microsoft outlook forms.

The following section explains the procedure of creating a custom outlook from to disable "Forward" and "Reply to All" options:

 

  1. Open Outlook ( I am using Outlook 2007 in this scenario)
  2. From Tools menu, select Forms and then click Design a Form option.
  3. In the Look In box, select Message form and then click Open.

 

image 

  1. Select Actions tab from the Untitled Message (Design) page.
  2. Double click the Reply to All option.

image

  1. In the Form Action Properties dialog box, clear the Enabled check box, and then click OK.

image

  1. Select Properties tab from the Untitled Message (Design) page.
  2. Select the Send form definition with item check box.

image

  1. Click OK on the dialog box
  2. On the Tools menu, select Publish Form As option.
  3. In the Look In box, select Personal Forms Library, enter the "No Reply All & Forward" as the form name and click Publish
  4. Close the design window. You don't have to save the changes.

The following section explains the procedure of using an outlook custom to protect your email:

  1. Open Outlook.
  2. From the Tools menu, select Forms, and then click Choose Form.
  3. In the Look In box, click Personal Forms Library.
  4. Select the "No Reply All & Forward" form, and then click Open.
  5. Compose a new message and click send

When the recipient opens this message, the Reply to All and Forward buttons will not be available (grayed out) as shown in the following screen shot:

image

Also, the CTRL+F, or clicking Reply on the Standard toolbar will not work.

As you can see simple Outlook forms can act as an Information Rights Management service to protect your sensitive information. But there are a few disadvantages of using Outlook forms.

  • Both the sender and recipient must be using Microsoft Office Outlook.
  • Recipients using Microsoft Outlook Express, Microsoft Windows Mail, Outlook Web Access or other applications are not protected by outlook forms. They will be able to use Forward and Reply to All options.
  • Custom forms are not secure as IRM
  • Unlike IRM, limited options are available with Outlook forms

Conclusion
Outlook forms can be used to protect your sensitive email if any other Rights Management service is not available. But clearly, Outlook forms are not a replacement for any type of Right Management Service!

If you have any questions or comments regarding this article, feel free to email me at santhosh@sivarajan.com.

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