Email communication remains one of the most used methods to share information with an individual or a group of people. General and sensitive information is sent via this platform to internal and external parties. In some instances, a sender may send information that they view as sensitive or confidential and only intend for the selected recipients to read it. The recipient may not see the information as sensitive and pass it on to additional people.  

Microsoft Encryption Purview has now been enabled for some UCT staff members to assist you in better managing sensitive and confidential information and prevent disclosure to unauthorised individuals. 

What is encryption? 

When an email is encrypted, the information in the email is encoded so that only the intended recipients can view its contents. This prevents disclosure of information and assures the recipient that the email is genuinely from you. 

The functionality applies to Outlook when using 

  • Windows  
  • macOS 
  • iOS 
  • Android 
  • Outlook for the web 



Mailboxes often contain all types of sensitive information including: 

  • Financials 
  • Contracts 
  • Confidential product information 
  • Reports on sales and forecasts 
  • Patient files 
  • Personal identifiable information (contact details, ID numbers, etc.) 

Should such information accidentally be sent to unauthorised individuals, it could be damaging for UCT. Microsoft Purview reduces the risk of sensitive information being dispersed to unauthorised individuals. Emails can be sent to internal and external recipients and the settings will still apply 


Encryption options 

You can decide which emails to encrypt and what permissions should apply. The Encrypt functionality sits under the Options tab in a new Outlook email message. Select the applicable encryption option from the dropdown menu. 

  • Encrypt-Only: the recipient can view, copy, print and forward the email. This setting is just a guarantee the email is from you. 
  • Do Not Forward: the recipient can only view the email. There is no option to forward the email, and it cannot be copied or printed. This ensures that the information in the email remains confidential. Do Not Forward information rights management protection will also apply to Microsoft 365 documents such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.  
  • University of Cape Town – Confidential: the email cannot be forwarded and only allows recipients from the UCT community to view, edit and respond to the email. External recipients will not be able to view the email contents. 
  • University of Cape Town – Confidential View Only: UCT staff and students can only view the email. It cannot be forwarded, edited, or responded to. 


Encryption for attachments 

Microsoft 365 documentation is automatically encrypted when attached to emails that have this setting enabled. Only the document owner will be able to change these settings. 

Additionally, unprotected PDF documents automatically inherit the same encryption permissions when attached to an encrypted email.


Email encryption signs 

Encrypted emails will contain a  padlock next to the recipient’s name in your Outlook mailbox. When you open the email, a popup alerts you to Configuring your computer for Information Rights Management

Under the sender’s name in the email, information is provided on what encryption permission applies to the email.

encrypt only updated


do not forward

When clicking the information  icon , you can view more on what actions you can take on the email. 

Encrypt-only  Do Not Forward 
encrypt only permissions
do not forward permissions

Whether the recipient is internal to UCT or not, if they use Outlook, they will be able to open the email as normal and view its contents. If they use any alternate email client, they will receive an email informing them that an encrypted email has been sent to them and they can view it by clicking the provided link. 

non Outlook encryption message

Send an encrypted email 

  1. Create a new message and click the Options tab.  
  2. Click Encrypt or Encryption and select the applicable permission. 
    Note: those using macOS may need to add the Encryption button from the Customise Toolbar menu. 

Alternatively, you can add this option to the Quick Access toolbar (where the save, undo and redo buttons as well as the document name appears) by right clicking Encrypt and select Add to Quick Access Toolbar. It will appear as a padlock in each new Outlook email. Simply select the applicable option from the dropdown menu. 

Outlook email toolbar