Sometime ago I did a short presentation on advanced data governance. Part of the presentation was about adding new sensitive information types. As you might know, you are not restricted by the information types provided by Microsoft. But adding your own types involved a lot of work.

First of all, you needed to understand the workings of a sensitive information type. Well, this hasn’t changed…

XML file

Then you can create a specific XML file, which contains specifics of the information type. The XML would contain a rule package, entity, patterns, regular expressions and much more. In the end – this would become a very complex file.

When the XML file was completed and correct, you needed PowerShell to import it into the Office 365 environment. PowerShell was also used to update the information type.

Security and compliance center

I was delighted to see that Microsoft has now added a GUI for adding these sensitive information types. Like I mentioned before, you still need to understand the basics of these information types, but creating one is much simpler.

You can add an information type from the Classifications section. Go to New sensitive information type. Choose a name and description.

In the next screen you’ll add the specifics. Let’s say we need to find content which contains information on the badge or employee number of the organization. This employee number has a specific layout. For example: 425 555-0100 (yep, just like the US phone-numbers).

In this example, I’m adding three keywords to the information type. But I also want to filter on the employee number as-well, so I add a regular expression for this.

By the way. A regular expression works like this.


\s = white space
| = OR
\d =number

This results in 425 555-0100 or 425.555.0100 (for example).


You might want to know if your information type works. And this is possible. After creating the information type, Office 365 asks you to test it out. You can do this by creating a txt-file and uploading it to the portal. I’ve tested mine, of-course.

Txt-file created here.

Just upload it. Easy….

And…. results! The information type detects my content.

So now I can use this information type to automatically detect sensitive information.

Just to check, I opened the list of all information types.


In the end

Sensitive types and the automatic detecting and labeling of content is very powerful. With this addition, the creation of custom sensitive information types has become much and much easier. If you want more information on these types, then this can be found here:

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