Secure Outlook Attachments Tool

Secure Outlook Attachments Tool is an Outlook add-in to manage and keep the e-mail attachments secure.

Challenge

It’s not enough to simply send a file as an e-mail attachment if it should be protected from numerous downloads and copywriting. An Outlook add-in developed by SCAND tackles the task and automatically replaces e-mail item attachments with the links to uploaded files. Recipients then get the links together with the incoming e-mails.

The creation of our solution for securing, tracking, and controlling attachments was based on the following requirements:

  • An attachment is uploaded to the server cloud storage.
  • Secure Outlook Attachments Tool is capable of defining and configuring the attachment’s location.
  • The add-in can establish viewing and downloading conditions for the users of the file.
  • The add-in lets modifying permissions on the time the attachment is used.
  • The add-in is integrated with the Outlook Inspectors, such as Outlook Mail Compose and Outlook Mail Read, as a custom right-side panel.

Approach

A set of Microsoft Office Solutions—Microsoft Office Developer Tools in Visual Studio and .NET Framework in particular—supported the add-in’s integration with Outlook.

While focusing on integrating our Secure Outlook Attachments Tool with the Outlook Inspectors and Explorer MailItem, we involved a turnkey solution, VSTO CustomTaskPane (Microsoft.Office.Tools).

Also, using a CustomTaskPane object for the application-level add-in lets generating the own panel and choosing its size, location, and dockable settings.

It will not be an issue for an end user to install the add-in with Inno Setup as our development team has made an installation file that allows copying all necessary files and register the components needed to download the add-in for the Outlook application.

Key Features

The SCAND’s development approach and software development tools utilized are the drivers of the opportunities the add-in provides:

  • The panel gives authorized access to the cloud file storage; users can view the statistics on their own files and files with shared access.
  • Integration with the Outlook Inspectors and Explorer MailItem makes it easy to track events, e.g., adding attachments to the e-mail items, editing the e-mail body to insert the link to the file in the text message, etc.

After an attached file is imported into the secure cloud storage, a user can set up permissions and access rights to the files and folders, namely:

  • Manage the list of users and groups that have access to the file.
  • Restrict the file view applying cloud file storage security settings.
  • Restrict the availability of the resource according to a specific time-frame.

Besides, users can get a local copy of the file if needed and upload attachments as binary files. File usage statistics is also available for viewing and download. So, in case views, downloads, and modification history are required, it’s real simple to inspect them.

Highlights

In order to implement all features intended, we have used:

  • C# .NET
  • Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF)
  • Visual Studio Tools for Office
  • REST API
  • NuGet package manager
  • Inno Setup
  • Ribbon integration
  • Outlook Custom Task Pane

Result

SCAND introduces a software product for the integration with the cloud file storage.

One of the implementations we have made is the Outlook add-in; it’s our Secure Outlook Attachments tool with its own control panel and capabilities to configure conditions for the file access and contribute to cloud data security.

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