Deploying the Azure Information Protection scanner to automatically classify and protect files

Applies to: Azure Information Protection, Windows Server 2019, Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2012 R2

Instructions for: Azure Information Protection client for Windows

Note

This article is for the current general availability version of the Azure Information Protection scanner.

To upgrade from a general availability version of the scanner that is older than 1.48.204.0, see Upgrading the Azure Information Protection scanner. You can then use the instructions on this page, omitting the step to install the scanner.

If you are not ready to upgrade from a previous version, see Deploying previous versions of the Azure Information Protection scanner to automatically classify and protect files.

Use this information to learn about the Azure Information Protection scanner, and then how to successfully install, configure, and run it.

This scanner runs as a service on Windows Server and lets you discover, classify, and protect files on the following data stores:

  • Local folders on the Windows Server computer that runs the scanner.

  • UNC paths for network shares that use the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol.

  • Sites and libraries for SharePoint Server 2019 through SharePoint Server 2013. SharePoint 2010 is also supported for customers who have extended support for this version of SharePoint.

To scan and label files on cloud repositories, use Cloud App Security instead of the scanner.

Overview of the Azure Information Protection scanner

When you have configured your Azure Information Protection policy for labels that apply automatic classification, files that this scanner discovers can then be labeled. Labels apply classification, and optionally, apply protection or remove protection:

Azure Information Protection scanner architecture overview

The scanner can inspect any files that Windows can index, by using IFilters that are installed on the computer. Then, to determine if the files need labeling, the scanner uses the Office 365 built-in data loss prevention (DLP) sensitivity information types and pattern detection, or Office 365 regex patterns. Because the scanner uses the Azure Information Protection client, it can classify and protect the same file types.

You can run the scanner in discovery mode only, where you use the reports to check what would happen if the files were labeled. Or, you can run the scanner to automatically apply the labels. You can also run the scanner to discover files that contain sensitive information types, without configuring labels for conditions that apply automatic classification.

Note that the scanner does not discover and label in real time. It systematically crawls through files on data stores that you specify, and you can configure this cycle to run once, or repeatedly.

You can specify which file types to scan, or exclude from scanning, by defining a file types list as part of the scanner configuration.

Prerequisites for the Azure Information Protection scanner

Before you install the Azure Information Protection scanner, make sure that the following requirements are in place.

Requirement More information
Windows Server computer to run the scanner service:

- 4 core processors

- 8 GB of RAM

- 10 GB free space (average) for temporary files
Windows Server 2019, Windows Server 2016, or Windows Server 2012 R2.

Note: For testing or evaluation purposes in a non-production environment, you can use a Windows client operating system that is supported by the Azure Information Protection client.

This computer can be a physical or virtual computer that has a fast and reliable network connection to the data stores to be scanned.

The scanner requires sufficient disk space to create temporary files for each file that it scans, four files per core. The recommended disk space of 10 GB allows for 4 core processors scanning 16 files that each have a file size of 625 MB.

If Internet connectivity is not possible because of your organization policies, see the Deploying the scanner with alternative configurations section. Otherwise, make sure that this computer has Internet connectivity that allows the following URLs over HTTPS (port 443):
*.aadrm.com
*.azurerms.com
*.informationprotection.azure.com
informationprotection.hosting.portal.azure.net
*.aria.microsoft.com
Service account to run the scanner service In addition to running the scanner service on the Windows Server computer, this Windows account authenticates to Azure AD and downloads the Azure Information Protection policy. This account must be an Active Directory account and synchronized to Azure AD. If you cannot synchronize this account because of your organization policies, see the Deploying the scanner with alternative configurations section.

This service account has the following requirements:

- Log on locally user right assignment. This right is required for the installation and configuration of the scanner, but not for operation. You must grant this right to the service account but you can remove this right after you have confirmed that the scanner can discover, classify, and protect files. If granting this right even for a short period of time is not possible because of your organization policies, see the Deploying the scanner with alternative configurations section.

- Log on as a service user right assignment. This right is automatically granted to the service account during the scanner installation and this right is required for the installation, configuration, and operation of the scanner.

- Permissions to the data repositories: For data repositories on SharePoint on-premises, always grant the Edit permission if Add and Customize Pages is selected for the site, or grant the Design permission. For other data repositories, grant Read and Write permissions for scanning the files and then applying classification and protection to the files that meet the conditions in the Azure Information Protection policy. To run the scanner in discovery mode only for these other data repositories, Read permission is sufficient.

- For labels that reprotect or remove protection: To ensure that the scanner always has access to protected files, make this account a super user for the Azure Rights Management service, and ensure that the super user feature is enabled. For more information about the account requirements for applying protection, see Preparing users and groups for Azure Information Protection. In addition, if you have implemented onboarding controls for a phased deployment, make sure that this account is included in your onboarding controls you've configured.
SQL Server to store the scanner configuration:

- Local or remote instance

- Sysadmin role to install the scanner
SQL Server 2012 is the minimum version for the following editions:

- SQL Server Enterprise

- SQL Server Standard

- SQL Server Express

The Azure Information Protection scanner supports multiple configuration databases on the same SQL server instance when you specify a custom profile name for the scanner.

When you install the scanner and your account has the Sysadmin role, the installation process automatically creates the scanner configuration database and grants the required db_owner role to the service account that runs the scanner. If you cannot be granted the Sysadmin role or your organization policies require databases to be created and configured manually, see the Deploying the scanner with alternative configurations section.

The size of the configuration database will vary for each deployment but we recommend you allocate 500 MB for every 1,000,000 files that you want to scan.
The Azure Information Protection client (classic) is installed on the Windows Server computer You must install the full client for the scanner. Do not install the client with just the PowerShell module.

For client installation instructions, see the admin guide. If you have previously installed the scanner and now need to upgrade it to a later version, see Upgrading the Azure Information Protection scanner.
Configured labels that apply automatic classification, and optionally, protection For more information about how to configure a label for conditions and to apply protection:
- How to configure conditions for automatic and recommended classification
- How to configure a label for Rights Management protection

Tip: You can use the instructions from the tutorial to test the scanner with a label that looks for credit card numbers in a prepared Word document. However, you will need to change the label configuration so that the option Select how this label is applied is set to Automatic, rather than Recommended. Then remove the label from the document (if it is applied) and copy the file to a data repository for the scanner. For quick testing, this could be a local folder on the scanner computer.

Although you can run the scanner even if you haven't configured labels that apply automatic classification, this scenario is not covered with these instructions. More information
For SharePoint sites and libraries to be scanned:

- SharePoint 2019

- SharePoint 2016

- SharePoint 2013

- SharePoint 2010
Other versions of SharePoint are not supported for the scanner.

For large SharePoint farms, check whether you need to increase the list view threshold (by default, 5,000) for the scanner to access all files. For more information, see the following SharePoint documentation: Manage large lists and libraries in SharePoint
For Office documents to be scanned:

- 97-2003 file formats and Office Open XML formats for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
For more information about the file types that the scanner supports for these file formats, see File types supported by the Azure Information Protection client
For long paths:

- Maximum of 260 characters, unless the scanner is installed on Windows 2016 and the computer is configured to support long paths
Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 support path lengths greater than 260 characters with the following group policy setting: Local Computer Policy > Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > All Settings > Enable Win32 long paths

For more information about supporting long file paths, see the Maximum Path Length Limitation section from the Windows 10 developer documentation.

If you can't meet all the requirements in the table because they are prohibited by your organization policies, see the next section for alternatives.

If all the requirements are met, go straight to configuring the scanner section.

Deploying the scanner with alternative configurations

The prerequisites listed in the table are the default requirements for the scanner and recommended because they are the simplest configuration for the scanner deployment. They should be suitable for initial testing, so that you can check the capabilities of the scanner. However, in a product environment, your organization policies might prohibit these default requirements because of one or more of the following restrictions:

  • Servers are not allowed Internet connectivity

  • You cannot be granted Sysadmin or databases must be created and configured manually

  • Service accounts cannot be granted the Log on locally right

  • Service accounts cannot be synchronized to Azure Active Directory but servers have Internet connectivity

The scanner can accommodate these restrictions but they require additional configuration.

Restriction: The scanner server cannot have Internet connectivity

Follow the instructions for a disconnected computer. Then, do the following:

  1. Configure the scanner in the Azure portal, by creating a scanner profile. If you need help with this step, see Configure the scanner in the Azure portal.

  2. Export your scanner profile from the Azure Information Protection - Profiles (Preview) blade, by using the Export option.

  3. Finally, in a PowerShell session, run Import-AIPScannerConfiguration and specify the file that contains the exported settings.

Note that in this configuration, the scanner cannot apply protection (or remove protection) by using your organization's cloud-based key. Instead, the scanner is limited to using labels that apply classification only, or protection that uses HYOK.

Restriction: You cannot be granted Sysadmin or databases must be created and configured manually

If you can be granted the Sysadmin role temporarily to install the scanner, you can remove this role when the scanner installation is complete. When you use this configuration, the database is automatically created for you and the service account for the scanner is automatically granted the required permissions. However, the user account that configures the scanner requires the db_owner role for the scanner configuration database, and you must manually grant this role to the user account.

If you cannot be granted the Sysadmin role even temporarily, you must manually create a database before you install the scanner. When you use this configuration, assign the following roles:

Account Database-level role
Service account for the scanner db_owner
User account for scanner installation db_owner
User account for scanner configuration db_owner

Typically, you will use the same user account to install and configure the scanner. But if you use different accounts, they both require the db_owner role for the scanner configuration database:

  • If you do not specify your own profile name for the scanner, the configuration database is named AIPScanner_<computer_name>.

  • If you specify your own profile name, the configuration database is named AIPScanner_<profile_name>.

Restriction: The service account for the scanner cannot be granted the Log on locally right

If your organization policies prohibit the Log on locally right for service accounts but allow the Log on as a batch job right, follow the instructions for Specify and use the Token parameter for Set-AIPAuthentication from the admin guide.

Restriction: The scanner service account cannot be synchronized to Azure Active Directory but the server has Internet connectivity

You can have one account to run the scanner service and use another account to authenticate to Azure Active Directory:

Configure the scanner in the Azure portal

Before you install the scanner, or upgrade it from the general availability version of the scanner, create a profile for the scanner in the Azure portal. You configure the profile for scanner settings, and the data repositories to scan.

  1. If you haven't already done so, open a new browser window and sign in to the Azure portal. Then navigate to the Azure Information Protection blade.

    For example, on the hub menu, click All services and start typing Information in the Filter box. Select Azure Information Protection.

  2. Locate the Scanner menu options, and select Profiles.

  3. On the Azure Information Protection - Profiles blade, select Add:

    Add profile for the Azure Information Protection scanner

  4. On the Add a new profile blade, specify a name for the scanner that is used to identify its configuration settings and data repositories to scan. For example, you might specify Europe to identify the geographical location of the data repositories that your scanner will cover. When you later install or upgrade the scanner, you will need to specify the same profile name.

    Optionally, specify a description for administrative purposes, to help you identify the scanner's profile name.

  5. For this initial configuration, configure the following settings, and then select Save but do not close the blade:

    • Schedule: Keep the default of Manual
    • Info types to be discovered: Change to Policy only
    • Configure repositories: Do not configure at this time because the profile must first be saved.
    • Enforce: Select Off
    • Label files based on content: Keep the default of On
    • Default label: Keep the default of Policy default
    • Relabel files: Keep the default of Off
    • Preserve "Date modified", "Last modified" and "Modified by": Keep the default of On
    • File types to scan: Keep the default file types for Exclude
    • Default owner: Keep the default of Scanner Account
  6. Now that the profile is created and saved, you're ready to return to the Configure repositories option to specify the data stores to be scanned. You can specify local folders, UNC paths, and SharePoint Server URLs for SharePoint on-premises sites and libraries.

    SharePoint Server 2019, SharePoint Server 2016, and SharePoint Server 2013 are supported for SharePoint. SharePoint Server 2010 is also supported when you have extended support for this version of SharePoint.

    To add your first data store, still on the Add a new profile blade, select Configure repositories to open the Repositories blade:

    Configure data repositories for the Azure Information Protection scanner

  7. On the Repositories blade, select Add:

    Add data repository for the Azure Information Protection scanner

  8. On the Repository blade, specify the path for the data repository.

    Wildcards are not supported and WebDav locations are not supported.

    Examples:

    For a local path: C:\Folder

    For a network share: C:\Folder\Filename

    For a UNC path:\\Server\Folder

    For a SharePoint library: http://sharepoint.contoso.com/Shared%20Documents/Folder

    Tip

    If you add a SharePoint path for "Shared Documents":

    • Specify Shared Documents in the path when you want to scan all documents and all folders from Shared Documents. For example: http://sp2013/Shared Documents

    • Specify Documents in the path when you want to scan all documents and all folders from a subfolder under Shared Documents. For example: http://sp2013/Documents/Sales Reports

    For the remaining settings on this blade, do not change them for this initial configuration, but keep them as Profile default. This means that the data repository inherits the settings from the scanner profile.

    Select Save.

  9. If you want to add another data repository, repeat steps 7 and 8.

  10. You can now close the Add a new profile blade and you see your profile name displayed in the Azure Information Protection - Profiles blade, together with the SCHEDULE column showing Manual and the ENFORCE column is blank.

You're now ready to install the scanner with the scanner profile that you've just created.

Install the scanner

  1. Sign in to the Windows Server computer that will run the scanner. Use an account that has local administrator rights and that has permissions to write to the SQL Server master database.

  2. Open a Windows PowerShell session with the Run as an administrator option.

  3. Run the Install-AIPScanner cmdlet, specifying your SQL Server instance on which to create a database for the Azure Information Protection scanner, and the scanner profile name that you specified in the preceding section:

    Install-AIPScanner -SqlServerInstance <name> -Profile <profile name>
    

    Examples, using the profile name of Europe:

    For a default instance: Install-AIPScanner -SqlServerInstance SQLSERVER1 -Profile Europe

    For a named instance: Install-AIPScanner -SqlServerInstance SQLSERVER1\AIPSCANNER -Profile Europe

    For SQL Server Express: Install-AIPScanner -SqlServerInstance SQLSERVER1\SQLEXPRESS -Profile Europe

    When you are prompted, provide the credentials for the scanner service account (<domain\user name>) and password.

  4. Verify that the service is now installed by using Administrative Tools > Services.

    The installed service is named Azure Information Protection Scanner and is configured to run by using the scanner service account that you created.

Now that you have installed the scanner, you need to get an Azure AD token for the scanner service account to authenticate, so that the scanner can run unattended.

Get an Azure AD token for the scanner

The Azure AD token lets the scanner service account authenticate to the Azure Information Protection service.

  1. Return to the Azure portal to create two Azure AD applications that are needed to specify an access token for authentication. After an initial interactive sign-in, this token lets the scanner run non-interactively.

    To create these applications, follow the instructions in How to label files non-interactively for Azure Information Protection from the admin guide.

  2. From the Windows Server computer, if your scanner service account has been granted the Log on locally right for the installation: Sign in with this account and start a PowerShell session. Run Set-AIPAuthentication, specifying the values that you copied from the previous step:

    Set-AIPAuthentication -webAppId <ID of the "Web app / API" application> -webAppKey <key value generated in the "Web app / API" application> -nativeAppId <ID of the "Native" application>
    

    When prompted, specify the password for your service account credentials for Azure AD, and then click Accept.

    If your scanner service account cannot be granted the Log on locally right for the installation: Follow the instructions in the Specify and use the Token parameter for Set-AIPAuthentication section from the admin guide.

The scanner now has a token to authenticate to Azure AD, which is valid for one year, two years, or never expires, according to your configuration of the Web app /API in Azure AD. When the token expires, you must repeat steps 1 and 2.

You're now ready to run your first scan in discovery mode.

Run a discovery cycle and view reports for the scanner

  1. In the Azure portal, return to Azure Information Protection to start the scanner. From the Scanner menu option, select Nodes. Select your scanner node, and then the Scan now option:

    Initiate scan for the Azure Information Protection scanner

    Alternatively, in your PowerShell session, run the following command:

     Start-AIPScan
    
  2. Wait for the scanner to complete its cycle. When the scanner has crawled through all the files in the data stores that you specified, the scanner stops although the scanner service remains running:

    • From the Azure Information Protection - Nodes blade, the value for the STATUS column changes from Scanning to Idle.

    • Using PowerShell, you can run Get-AIPScannerStatus to monitor the status change.

    • Check the local Windows Applications and Services event log, Azure Information Protection. This log also reports when the scanner has finished scanning, with a summary of results. Look for the informational event ID 911.

  3. Review the reports that are stored in %localappdata%\Microsoft\MSIP\Scanner\Reports. The .txt summary files include the time taken to scan, the number of scanned files, and how many files had a match for the information types. The .csv files have more details for each file. This folder stores up to 60 reports for each scanning cycle and all but the latest report is compressed to help minimize the required disk space.

    Note

    You can change the level of logging by using the ReportLevel parameter with Set-AIPScannerConfiguration, but you can't change the report folder location or name. Consider using a directory junction for the folder if you want to store the reports on a different volume or partition.

    For example, using the Mklink command: mklink /j D:\Scanner_reports C:\Users\aipscannersvc\AppData\Local\Microsoft\MSIP\Scanner\Reports

    With our setting of Policy only for Info types to be discovered, only files that meet the conditions you've configured for automatic classification are included in the detailed reports. If you don't see any labels applied, check your label configuration includes automatic rather than recommended classification.

    Tip

    Scanners send this information to Azure Information Protection every five minutes, so that you can view the results in near real-time from the Azure portal. For more information, see Reporting for Azure Information Protection.

    If the results are not as you expect, you might need to reconfigure the conditions that you specified for you labels in your Azure Information Protection policy. If that's the case, repeat steps 1 through 3 until you are ready to change the configuration to apply the classification and optionally, protection.

The Azure portal displays information about the last scan only. If you need to see the results of previous scans, return to the reports that are stored on the scanner computer, in the %localappdata%\Microsoft\MSIP\Scanner\Reports folder.

When you're ready to automatically label the files that the scanner discovers, continue to the next procedure.

Configure the scanner to apply classification and protection

If you are following these instructions, the scanner runs one time and in the reporting-only mode. To change these settings, edit the scanner profile:

  1. Back on the Azure Information Protection - Profiles blade, select the scanner profile to edit it.

  2. On the <profile name> blade, change the following two settings, and then select Save:

    • Schedule: Change to Always

    • Enforce: Select On

      There are other configuration settings that you might want to change. For example, whether file attributes are changed and whether the scanner can relabel files. Use the information popup help to learn more information about each configuration setting.

  3. Make a note of the current time and start the scanner again from the Azure Information Protection - Nodes blade:

    Initiate scan for the Azure Information Protection scanner

    Alternatively, you can run the following command in your PowerShell session:

     Start-AIPScan
    
  4. Monitor the event log for the informational type 911 again, with a time stamp later than when you started the scan in the previous step.

    Then check the reports to see details of which files were labeled, what classification was applied to each file, and whether protection was applied to them. Or, use the Azure portal to more easily see this information.

Because we configured the schedule to run continuously, when the scanner has worked its way through all the files, it automatically starts a new cycle so that any new and changed files are discovered.

How files are scanned

The scanner runs through the following processes when it scans files.

1. Determine whether files are included or excluded for scanning

The scanner automatically skips files that are excluded from classification and protection, such as executable files and system files.

You can change this behavior by defining a list of file types to scan, or exclude from scanning. You can specify this list for the scanner to apply to all data repositories by default, and you can specify a list for each data repository. To specify this list, use the Files types to scan setting in the scanner profile:

Configure file types to scan for the Azure Information Protection scanner

2. Inspect and label files

The scanner then uses filters to scan supported file types. These same filters are used by the operating system for Windows Search and indexing. Without any additional configuration, Windows IFilter is used to scan file types that are used by Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and for PDF documents and text files.

For a full list of file types that are supported by default, and additional information how to configure existing filters that include .zip files and .tiff files, see File types supported for inspection.

After inspection, these file types can be labeled by using the conditions that you specified for your labels. Or, if you're using discovery mode, these files can be reported to contain the conditions that you specified for your labels, or all known sensitive information types.

However, the scanner cannot label the files under the following circumstances:

  • If the label applies classification and not protection, and the file type does not support classification only.

  • If the label applies classification and protection, but the scanner does not protect the file type.

    By default, the scanner protects only Office file types, and PDF files when they are protected by using the ISO standard for PDF encryption. Other file types can be protected when you edit the registry as described in a following section.

For example, after inspecting files that have a file name extension of .txt, the scanner can't apply a label that's configured for classification but not protection, because the .txt file type doesn't support classification-only. If the label is configured for classification and protection, and the registry is edited for the .txt file type, the scanner can label the file.

Tip

During this process, if the scanner stops and doesn't complete scanning a large number of the files in a repository:

  • You might need to increase the number of dynamic ports for the operating system hosting the files. Server hardening for SharePoint can be one reason why the scanner exceeds the number of allowed network connections, and therefore stops.

    To check whether this is the cause of the scanner stopping, look to see if the following error message is logged for the scanner in %localappdata%\Microsoft\MSIP\Logs\MSIPScanner.iplog (zipped if there are multiple logs): Unable to connect to the remote server ---> System.Net.Sockets.SocketException: Only one usage of each socket address (protocol/network address/port) is normally permitted IP:port

    For more information about how to view the current port range and increase the range, see Settings that can be Modified to Improve Network Performance.

  • For large SharePoint farms, you might need to increase the list view threshold (by default, 5,000). For more information, see the following SharePoint documentation: Manage large lists and libraries in SharePoint.

3. Label files that can't be inspected

For the file types that can't be inspected, the scanner applies the default label in the Azure Information Protection policy, or the default label that you configure for the scanner.

As in the preceding step, the scanner cannot label the files under the following circumstances:

  • If the label applies classification and not protection, and the file type does not support classification only.

  • If the label applies classification and protection, but the scanner does not protect the file type.

    By default, the scanner protects only Office file types, and PDF files when they are protected by using the ISO standard for PDF encryption. Other file types can be protected when you edit the registry as described next.

Editing the registry for the scanner

To change the default scanner behavior for protecting file types other than Office files and PDFs, you must manually edit the registry and specify the additional file types that you want to be protected, and the type of protection (native or generic). For instructions, see File API configuration from the developer guidance. In this documentation for developers, generic protection is referred to as "PFile". In addition, specific for the scanner:

  • The scanner has its own default behavior: Only Office file formats and PDF documents are protected by default. If the registry is not modified, any other file types will not be labeled or protected by the scanner.

  • If you want the same default protection behavior as the Azure Information Protection client, where all files are automatically protected with native or generic protection: Specify the * wildcard as a registry key, Encryption as the value (REG_SZ), and Default as the value data.

When you edit the registry, manually create the MSIPC key and FileProtection key if they do not exist, as well as a key for each file name extension.

For example, for the scanner to protect TIFF images in addition to Office files and PDFs, the registry after you have edited it, will look similar to the following picture. As an image file, TIFF files support native protection and the resulting file name extension is .ptiff.

Editing the registry for the scanner to apply protection

For a list of text and images file types that similarly support native protection but must be specified in the registry, see Supported file types for classification and protection from the admin guide.

For files that don't support native protection, specify the file name extension as a new key, and PFile for generic protection. The resulting file name extension for the protected file is .pfile.

When files are rescanned

For the first scan cycle, the scanner inspects all files in the configured data stores and then for subsequent scans, only new or modified files are inspected.

You can force the scanner to inspect all files again from the Azure Information Protection - Nodes blade in the Azure portal. Select your scanner from the list, and then select the Rescan all files option:

Initiate rescan for the Azure Information Protection scanner

Inspecting all files again is useful when you want the reports to include all files and this configuration choice is typically used when the scanner runs in discovery mode. When a full scan is complete, the scan type automatically changes to incremental so that for subsequent scans, only new or modified files are scanned.

In addition, all files are inspected when the scanner downloads an Azure Information Protection policy that has new or changed conditions. The scanner refreshes the policy every hour, and when the service starts and the policy is older than one hour.

Tip

If you need to refresh the policy sooner than this one hour interval, for example, during a testing period: Manually delete the policy file, Policy.msip from both %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\MSIP\Policy.msip and %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\MSIP\Scanner. Then restart the Azure Information Scanner service.

If you changed protection settings in the policy, also wait 15 minutes from when you saved the protection settings before you restart the service.

If the scanner downloaded a policy that had no automatic conditions configured, the copy of the policy file in the scanner folder does not update. In this scenario, you must delete the policy file, Policy.msip from both %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\MSIP\Policy.msip and %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\MSIP\Scanner before the scanner can use a newly downloaded policy file that has labels correctly figured for automatic conditions.

Editing in bulk for the data repository settings

For the data repositories that you've added to a scanner profile, you can use the Export and Import options to quickly make changes to the settings. For example, for your SharePoint data repositories, you want to add a new file type to exclude from scanning.

Instead of editing each data repository in the Azure portal, use the Export option from the Repositories blade:

Exporting data repository settings for the scanner

Manually edit the file to make the change, and then use the Import option on the same blade.

Using the scanner with alternative configurations

There are two alternative scenarios that the Azure Information Protection scanner supports where labels do not need to be configured for any conditions:

  • Apply a default label to all files in a data repository.

    For this configuration, set the Default label to Custom, and select the label to use.

    The contents of the files are not inspected and all files in the data repository are labeled according to the default label that you specify for the data repository or the scanner profile.

  • Identify all custom conditions and known sensitive information types.

    For this configuration, set the Info types to be discovered to All.

    The scanner uses any custom conditions that you have specified for labels in the Azure Information Protection policy, and the list of information types that are available to specify for labels in the Azure Information Protection policy. This setting helps you find sensitive information that you might not realize you had, but at the expense of scanning rates for the scanner.

    The following quickstart for the general availability version of the scanner uses this configuration: Quickstart: Find what sensitive information you have.

Optimizing the performance of the scanner

Use the following guidance to help you optimize the performance of the scanner. However, if your priority is the responsiveness of the scanner computer rather than the scanner performance, you can use an advanced client setting to limit the number of threads used by the scanner.

To maximize the scanner performance:

  • Have a high speed and reliable network connection between the scanner computer and the scanned data store

    For example, place the scanner computer in the same LAN, or (preferred) in the same network segment as the scanned data store.

    The quality of the network connection affects the scanner performance because to inspect the files, the scanner transfers the contents of the files to the computer running the scanner service. When you reduce (or eliminate) the number of network hops this data has to travel, you also reduce the load on your network.

  • Make sure the scanner computer has available processor resources

    Inspecting the file contents, and encrypting and decrypting files are processor-intensive actions. Monitor typical scanning cycles for your specified data stores to identify whether a lack of processor resources is negatively affecting the scanner performance.

  • Do not scan local folders on the computer running the scanner service

    If you have folders to scan on a Windows server, install the scanner on a different computer and configure those folders as network shares to scan. Separating the two functions of hosting files and scanning files means that the computing resources for these services are not competing with one another.

If necessary, install multiple instances of the scanner. The Azure Information Protection scanner supports multiple configuration databases on the same SQL server instance when you specify a custom profile name for the scanner.

Other factors that affect the scanner performance:

  • The current load and response times of the data stores that contain the files to scan

  • Whether the scanner runs in discovery mode or enforce mode

    Discovery mode typically has a higher scanning rate than enforce mode because discovery requires a single file read action, whereas enforce mode requires read and write actions.

  • You change the conditions in the Azure Information Protection

    Your first scan cycle when the scanner must inspect every file will take longer than subsequent scan cycles that by default, inspect only new and changed files. However, if you change the conditions in the Azure Information Protection policy, all files are scanned again, as described in the preceding section.

  • The construction of regex expressions for custom conditions

    To avoid heavy memory consumption and the risk of timeouts (15 minutes per file), review your regex expressions for efficient pattern matching. For example:

    • Avoid greedy quantifiers

    • Use non-capturing groups such as (?:expression) instead of (expression)

  • Your chosen logging level

    You can choose between Debug, Info, Error and Off for the scanner reports. Off results in the best performance; Debug considerably slows down the scanner and should be used only for troubleshooting. For more information, see the ReportLevel parameter for the Set-AIPScannerConfiguration cmdlet.

  • The files themselves:

    • With the exception of Excel files, Office files are more quickly scanned than PDF files.

    • Unprotected files are quicker to scan than protected files.

    • Large files obviously take longer to scan than small files.

  • Additionally:

    • Confirm that the service account that runs the scanner has only the rights documented in the scanner prerequisites section, and then configure the advanced client setting to disable the low integrity level for the scanner.

    • The scanner runs more quickly when you use the alternative configuration to apply a default label to all files because the scanner does not inspect the file contents.

    • The scanner runs more slowly when you use the alternative configuration to identify all custom conditions and known sensitive information types.

    • You can decrease the scanner timeouts with advanced client settings for better scanning rates and lower memory consumption, but with the acknowledgment that some files might be skipped.

List of cmdlets for the scanner

Because you now configure the scanner from the Azure portal, cmdlets from previous versions that configured data repositories and the scanned file types list are now deprecated.

The cmdlets that remain include cmdlets that install and upgrade the scanner, change the scanner configuration database and profile, change the local reporting level, and import configuration settings for a disconnected computer.

The full list of cmdlets that the current version of the scanner supports:

Event log IDs and descriptions for the scanner

Use the following sections to identify the possible event IDs and descriptions for the scanner. These events are logged on the server that runs the scanner service, in the Windows Applications and Services event log, Azure Information Protection.


Information 910

Scanner cycle started.

This event is logged when the scanner service is started and begins to scan for files in the data repositories that you specified.


Information 911

Scanner cycle finished.

This event is logged when the scanner has finished a manual scan, or the scanner has finished a cycle for a continuous schedule.

If the scanner was configured to run manually rather than continuously, to scan the files again, set the Schedule to Manual or Always in the scanner profile, and then restart the service.


Next steps

Interested in how the Core Services Engineering and Operations team in Microsoft implemented this scanner? Read the technical case study: Automating data protection with Azure Information Protection scanner.

You might be wondering: What’s the difference between Windows Server FCI and the Azure Information Protection scanner?

You can also use PowerShell to interactively classify and protect files from your desktop computer. For more information about this and other scenarios that use PowerShell, see Using PowerShell with the Azure Information Protection client.