Configuring super users for Azure Rights Management and discovery services or data recovery

Applies to: Azure Information Protection, Office 365

The super user feature of the Azure Rights Management service from Azure Information Protection ensures that authorized people and services can always read and inspect the data that Azure Rights Management protects for your organization. And if necessary, remove the protection or change the protection that was previously applied.

A super user always has the Rights Management Full Control usage right for documents and emails that have been protected by your organization’s Azure Information Protection tenant. This ability is sometimes referred to as "reasoning over data" and is a crucial element in maintaining control of your organization’s data. For example, you would use this feature for any of the following scenarios:

  • An employee leaves the organization and you need to read the files that they protected.

  • An IT administrator needs to remove the current protection policy that was configured for files and apply a new protection policy.

  • Exchange Server needs to index mailboxes for search operations.

  • You have existing IT services for data loss prevention (DLP) solutions, content encryption gateways (CEG), and anti-malware products that need to inspect files that are already protected.

  • You need to bulk decrypt files for auditing, legal, or other compliance reasons.

Configuration for the super user feature

By default, the super user feature is not enabled, and no users are assigned this role. It is enabled for you automatically if you configure the Rights Management connector for Exchange, and it is not required for standard services that run Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, or SharePoint Server.

If you need to manually enable the super user feature, use the PowerShell cmdlet Enable-AadrmSuperUserFeature, and then assign users (or service accounts) as needed by using the Add-AadrmSuperUser cmdlet or the Set-AadrmSuperUserGroup cmdlet and add users (or other groups) as needed to this group.

Although using a group for your super users is easier to manage, be aware that for performance reasons, Azure Rights Management caches the group membership. So if you need to assign a new user to be a super user to decrypt content immediately, add that user by using Add-AadrmSuperUser, rather than adding the user to an existing group that you have configured by using Set-AadrmSuperUserGroup.


If you have not yet installed the Windows PowerShell module for Azure Rights Management, see Installing the AADRM PowerShell module.

It doesn't matter when you enable the super user feature or when you add users as super users. For example, if you enable the feature on Thursday and then add a user on Friday, that user can immediately open content that was protected at the very beginning of the week.

Security best practices for the super user feature

  • Restrict and monitor the administrators who are assigned a global administrator for your Office 365 or Azure Information Protection tenant, or who are assigned the GlobalAdministrator role by using the Add-AadrmRoleBasedAdministrator cmdlet. These users can enable the super user feature and assign users (and themselves) as super users, and potentially decrypt all files that your organization protects.

  • To see which users and service accounts are individually assigned as super users, use the Get-AadrmSuperUser cmdlet. To see whether a super user group is configured, use the Get-AadrmSuperUserGroup cmdlet and your standard user management tools to check which users are a member of this group. Like all administration actions, enabling or disabling the super feature, and adding or removing super users are logged and can be audited by using the Get-AadrmAdminLog command. See the next section for an example. When super users decrypt files, this action is logged and can be audited with usage logging.

  • If you do not need the super user feature for everyday services, enable the feature only when you need it, and disable it again by using the Disable-AadrmSuperUserFeature cmdlet.

Example auditing for the super user feature

The following log extract shows some example entries from using the Get-AadrmAdminLog cmdlet.

In this example, the administrator for Contoso Ltd confirms that the super user feature is disabled, adds Richard Simone as a super user, checks that Richard is the only super user configured for the Azure Rights Management service, and then enables the super user feature so that Richard can now decrypt some files that were protected by an employee who has now left the company.

2015-08-01T18:58:20 GetSuperUserFeatureState Passed Disabled

2015-08-01T18:59:44 AddSuperUser -id Passed True

2015-08-01T19:00:51 GetSuperUser Passed

2015-08-01T19:01:45 SetSuperUserFeatureState -state Enabled Passed True

Scripting options for super users

Often, somebody who is assigned a super user for Azure Rights Management will need to remove protection from multiple files, in multiple locations. While it’s possible to do this manually, it’s more efficient (and often more reliable) to script this. To do so, you can use the Unprotect-RMSFile cmdlet, and Protect-RMSFile cmdlet as required.

If you are using classification and protection, you can also use the Set-AIPFileLabel to apply a new label that doesn't apply protection, or remove the label that applied protection.

For more information about these cmdlets, see Using PowerShell with the Azure Information Protection client from the Azure Information Protection client admin guide.


The AzureInformationProtection module replaces the RMS Protection PowerShell module that installed with the RMS Protection Tool. Both these modules are different from and supplements the PowerShell module for Azure Rights Management. The AzureInformationProtection module supports Azure Information Protection, the Azure Rights Management service (Azure RMS) for Azure Information Protection, and Active Directory Rights Management Services (AD RMS).