GAT Unlock – First Steps

GAT Unlock is the most sophisticated security management mechanism for Google Apps available today. It works on the principle that access to documents, or change of ownership of documents, without the owner’s knowledge or permission can only be accomplished with the active input of at least two people in the organization. One of these will be the requestor who must be an Administrator, the other a Security Officer (or Verification Officer), who must be identified and verified through a senior executive in the organization.

This is an extra service on top of all GAT versions and for non-education domains comes with a limited cost. All license types must apply for this service if they require it. It does not automatically install nor can it be self configured.


Because of the sensitivity of documents held in the cloud ‘Unlock’ can not be self enabled and is available ‘on trial’ only by special request.

From introduction the service will be visible to domains and each domain Admin can apply to have it enabled. To avail of this service please email with your request. The requesting email must contain the following 4 items.

  • The contact details of the Google Apps Administrator applying.  
  • The name of the Security Officer(s), her/his position(s), email and phone number.
  • The contact details (email and phone number) for the person from whom the GAT team must seek confirmation before enabling this feature (See list below for minimum level of organization officer we expect to have to request approval from. Please send us their full contact details also and inform them they may receive contact from us.) This is required to verify the separate identities of both the Administrators and Security Officers.
  • The PO details for the requested service, see price list below. (Not required for education domains that have purchased GAT.)

There can be many Security Officers, and the service will be available to all Super Admins once enabled.

Administrators and Security Officers should remember the verification process is there to protect you, your domain data and your user’s privacy and rights, while also enabling you to act in the organization’s best interests.

When the ‘GAT Unlock’ service is enabled Administrators can generate access or change requests, but only Security Officers can approve them. An individual can be a member of both lists but cannot approve their own requests. The Security Officer list for all domains is maintained by staff. A Security Officer can not generate a change or view request and have it approved by another Security Officer.

Why all this effort? We really respect your data security. We respect your company’s right to be protected. This is the highest security model available within the Google for Work environment.

‘GAT Unlock’ pricing and approval authority needed

From September 1st, 2016, GAT Unlock will be bundled at no extra cost for educational domains who subscribe to GAT+ Email at the educational rate of $0.50 per user per year.

How to use GAT Unlock

File Management – Changing ownership or file access rights

GAT Unlock is tightly integrated with the powerful search and filter options available in GAT+. This means you only have to do things once.

In this example we are going to find all the spreadsheets owned by the group ‘sales’ that are shared externally, then we will remove the external sharing and change the ownership (on all the selected files at once).

TIP: Always narrow the file request with a search first – saves time and makes approval simpler.

Step 1: Click on the ‘Apply custom filter’ button in Drive Audit.

Step 2: Select the following option:

  • For the filter type select User/Group/OU search, we will enter the ‘Sales’ group in this field ‘Local User/Group’, make sure to enter the full email address.
  • Click the checkbox option ‘Owned’, this will show all the files owned by ‘Sales’ group. Otherwise, it would show all of the files associated with ‘Sales’ group, were Sales shows up as Owner, Editor or Reader.
  • In the filter definition area, select the parameter Type equal to Spreadsheets and to add another search parameter click on ‘Add rule’ button and select ‘Sharing Flag’ to ‘Shared Out’. Selecting shared out will only focus on files leaving your domain.  

Step 3: Next click on the ‘Toggle Selectable’ button, this will allow you to select files individually or all of them at the same time.

Note: You can not perform actions on a ‘Suspended’ account.

Step 4: Click on the button ‘File operation’ and then select the ‘File Management’ option.

Step 5: In this example, we are removing external access to the spreadsheets and making the manager the owner of all the files.

When you click on the ‘Send request’ button, an email is going to be sent to your security officer.

If the security officer approves your actions, they will be executed and you will be notified.

If permission is not granted by the security officer, you will also be notified and no actions will be taken.

Access Permissions Granted – How to silently copy or view files

We are going to use a powerful search feature inside of GAT+ Drive audit to identify the contents of documents we’re going to investigate. This feature is called the ‘File content text search’. It allows admins/delegated auditor to use a word or sentence to search through all of the files across the domain and to return documents which contain them.

Step 1: Click on the ‘Apply custom filter’ button.

Step 2: Enter the word or sentence to return files which contain them. Select the user’s account you want to search through you can leave this field blank to search your entire domain’s Drive or enter a user, Google Group or Org Unit to search through them only.

You can also use multiple rules in the definition section of the Apply custom filter. I used the Updated search parameter. Once you click on Apply button the search will begin.

It will take a few minutes depending on how many files you have across your domain.

Step 3: Select the files you are interested in, remember that these files contain the sentence “private and confidential”.

Step 4: Click on the ‘Files operation’ button and then select ‘Access permissions granted’.

Step 5: Next we will select a date in the future, we will have access to these files until this date. You have an option to write to your security officer explaining why you need access to these files.

Send the request to the Security Officer(s) for approval.

The following email will be sent to the Security Officer.

The Security Officer can click on the link in the email and will be taken to the approval area(Grant) in GAT+.

When the Security Officer grants access an email will be sent to the requesting Administrator/delegated auditor informing them. The Administrator from the ‘Access permission granted’ menu can see the full list of their access requests along with the time left for each request to remain valid.

Once the request is selected, the requestor can download documents or view the contents silently without the owners’ awareness.

Pre-approved Access for Admins to all Files for a range of Users

If your Super admins wish not to get Security Officer approval every time they want to make file permission changes or to view file contents, a security officer can give them pre-approval.

In the Security Officer section on the GAT+ sidebar menu, select ‘Pre-approved Access’ and then click on +’ button to add a new pre-approved admin.

Once clicked a new ‘pop-up’ screen will appear.

Here the security officer can add the email address of the Super Admin, the OU over which they will have access, they can select a full OU tree and set approval access until a certain future date. In the above screenshot, I gave Anna (super admin) access to the entire organisation because I selected / and I covered the Sub-Org Units as well.

Multiple different grants can be given by the security officer, including several to the same Super Admin, each covering different scopes.

Changing Ownership of an entire folder tree

Another feature of ‘Unlock’ is that it enables an often requested task of moving an entire folder tree, root folder and sub-folders, from one or many owners to a new owner.

This task is completed with the File Management tab. Use the drop-down menu button next to the folder name to see the options. Click on ‘Apply permission change to this folder (recursive)’. When the File Management option menu appears enter the new owner’s email address. And make sure to remove the previous owner as editor.

Note: When changing ownership with GAT Unlock the previous owner is added automatically as an editor to the files he owned prior to your changes. Make sure to enter the previous owner into the field ‘Remove following users as Editors’ if you don’t want them to have that privilege by default before sending the request to your Security Officer.

This is an ideal feature for consolidating a shared folder structure, or handling leaving staff or students.

Delegating Access to an email account

GAT+ allows Admins to delegate access for a User account to another User for a certain period of hours. This may be for business purposes but it is also facilitates the fast search and viewing of all the account emails via another user’s browser.

BEFORE USING: Please ensure email delegation is allowed for users in your domain. Go to the G Suite Admin Console and under Apps > G Suite Apps > Settings for Gmail check if the email delegation box is allowed for your domain.

Launch the GAT+ tool, enter the User Audit section and click on the Email Info Tab.

In the Email Info Tab, select any user and click on the Actions button to add an email delegate to their account.

You have the ability to remove existing mail delegation which are already in place as well.

Here the Admin can select the account they wish to gain access to, then select the account they want to give this access to and finally select the number of hours they would like delegated access to be granted for. Once the request is sent, the Security Officer will still have to approve before the delegation is created.

Once granted the delegated account appears in the accounts drop down list when the profile picture is selected in Gmail.

The delegation will automatically be revoked after the requested time period.

Note: If during the period of delegation, the account under audit, logs into their Google account and goes to their email settings, then under ‘Accounts’ the account owner will see that the Admin has granted delegated access to the account.

In addition if the delegated user reads any unopened email in the audit account, this email will be marked as ‘read’.

Deleting Spam, Inappropriate or Accidental Emails

There are multiple reasons to have the ability to identify and remove emails which have been received by all or any of your domain users. Here are some unwanted scenarios:

  • An email is sent to the wrong user or group
  • An email contains inappropriate content
  • An email that contains sensitive information
  • An email which has gone pass spam filtering or is a phishing email.

GAT+ allows Admins to delete these emails from all accounts at once.

We recommend using ‘Gmail Search’ for tracking down these emails. It is a ‘real time’ search that is highly configurable (see ‘search tips’ link beside the search box). In the screenshot above we use the example search parameters

“SEO proposal” in:anywhere newer_than:180d”

This tells GAT+ to search in all folders, for all users and look for emails that contain the words “SEO proposal” which are also newer than 180 days. When the results come back, click on ‘Apply’.

Next, select the ‘Toggle Selectable’ button and select the emails you wish to view/download/delete.

Once the emails are selected, click on the ‘Access permissions granted’ button and send a request to your SO (security officer). Your SO will have to approve your request.

Before sending the request if you intend to delete the emails rather than just view or download them then check the ‘Request permission to remove’ box.

After doing that hit ‘send request’ and wait for approval to be returned from the Security Officer.

Once you have received an approval email, remember to refresh the list within the ‘Access permissions granted’ and click on the ‘Activate grant’ to display just your selected emails.

You can then delete one or all of the emails using the drop-down option in the Emails Operation button.

By default, you can send the emails to user’s trash folder on their Gmail but if you wish to permanently delete these emails then select ‘Delete permanently’.

In future when you search for these emails they will still be listed in our database but they will have a bin icon next to the subjects.

Pre-approved Access for Super Admins to all Emails

To enable pre-approval for Super Admins navigate to the Configuration section of GAT+ and enter the security officer area.

Once there click on the Pre-approved Tab and click on the plus icon “Add new pre-approved access”.

Your security officer will have to select you (super admin) to have pre-approval over users across your domain.

This is ideal for situations where Admins do not need to get constant approval to view/download or remove emails. An example would be in an education domain where the Super Admin would have full open access (view/download or remove emails) for all Student OU’s but would still have to get selective approval from the security officer to access an in the Staff or HR OU.

For a single OU level add a value like /Staff (Note, this will not grant access to the OU /Staff/IT unless “Sub Org. Units equals Yes!).

In the above screenshot I put Anna (Super Admin) to have pre-approved access to the entire domain by select / for the Org Unit and I made sure to cover all Sub-Org Units. / means the root User Org. Unit. She has access to remove and add email delegations as well because I enabled the last two option which are “Can remove?” and “Can add email delegation”.

The Admin should now see something like this when they click on ‘Access permissions granted’ in Email audit.

Every time admins enter the Email audit area they need to apply the Granted pre-approval privilege then carry out the search for the email(s) in question and next to each email there will be an action column visible.

Bulk Download or View Email Contents

The global live email search is under the ‘Gmail Search’ tab within email audit.

Here you can search for all the emails sent to or from a particular user on your domain. (You can also search for emails associated with groups or OUs of users.) The search can also take many flags, for example you could search for email sent to a particular user that was ‘Unread’, click on ‘Search tips’ to open a new page with all the flags you can use.

Because the entire domain is searched, it may take some time unless you narrow down the scope in which case I’m doing in the above screenshot. I narrowed down the search to a specific Google Group. The above example will look for all emails older than 1 day and that have been opened.

When the search is finished you can click on ‘Apply’ to see the table of the results.

When the results appear select some or all emails in the result table by using the ‘Toggle Selectable’ button then click on the Email Operation drop-down menu and click on ‘Access permissions granted’.

Click on ‘New Request’ to send this search to a Security Officer for their approval to allow you to read or download copies of these messages. Decide for how long you want to have access to these emails and enter a custom message to your Security Officer with your request.

The Security Officer will receive an email detailing the the access request being made. They can click on the link in the email to approve.

Once approved the Super Admin will receive an email in return notifying them of the SO decision.

It will look like this.

Once you receive this email, refresh the Current request list to see access grants that have been changed from pending to granted. These requests will now have a check mark beside them. Click on ‘Activate Grant’.

Each email can be read or downloaded individually by clicking on the Action button beside them.

To download all the emails select the ‘Toggle Selectable’ button and click on the top checkbox which will select every email within the result table. Right next to the ‘Toggle Selectable’ button click on ‘Email Operations’ drop-down menu and click on Download e-mails.

Downloading individual emails will occur almost instantaneously. Downloading all the emails takes some time. We have to retrieve the emails and add them to a zip as PDFs. Allow about 10 minutes for every 100mb of emails. To make it efficient we will create the download zip file on one of our servers and will create a link for you to bring down the zip to your own PC or server.

A password is generated and sent to your email address, use this password to be able to view the contents in the zip file because all of the PDFs will be password protected.

If the download is big, you can complete other audit tasks or grab a coffee. When you return to GAT+ go to the Admin Log in the Configuration section.

Non-Super Admin Auditors

This feature is ideal where Super Admins want to delegate the audit function to local managers or regional security personnel. GAT+ allows anyone to audit any range of users based on the model of Google Groups, Google Classrooms, and Org Units. It does not require passing on Google Admin authority. Selected auditors can have audit rights over individual users, Google Groups or Org Units. This allows you to have multiple auditors for a specified scope.

Auditors will have access to the auditing areas of GAT+ but will not have access to the Configuration sections.

To learn more visit our knowledge base and read the following article ‘Create Delegated Auditors within GAT+’.