Since the introduction of smartphones in the workplace more than a decade ago, the lines between personal and professional use of devices have blurred. IT administrators have had to figure out how to incorporate phones, tablets, and other smart devices into the workplace in a way that keeps the company secure, while also respecting employee privacy.
Mobile device management (MDM) strategy and related tools has made that work easier by allowing IT to manage, support, and monitor devices outside of the office. In the wake of the rise of remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MDM has never been more important than it is now. Working from home gives employees more opportunities to use their personal devices to access company data. They may also be more inclined to use company-owned devices for personal tasks.
It’s critical that IT managers keep up with the growing number of endpoints. An MDM strategy gives them more visibility into which mobile devices are being used, and how. If your organization doesn’t have an MDM strategy, now is a great time to consider developing one.
The purpose of this blog is to discuss:
- The purpose and importance of MDM
- How to develop an MDM policy
- What to look for in an MDM software vendor
What Do I Need to Know About MDM?
What is MDM? Well, Mobile device management is a combination of policies and technology that oversee the use of mobile devices within a business.
Common MDM solution features include the following:
- Remote wipe of lost or stolen devices
- Mobile device inventory and location tracking
- Remote troubleshooting and repair of devices
- Cloud application distribution
- Access controls (passwords, authentication, etc.)
- Encryption of sensitive data
- Allowing and/or blocking applications
Why do I need an MDM policy?
In addition to simply being lost or stolen, mobile devices are vulnerable to many kinds of threats including:
- Applications – In addition to apps that contain malware or spyware, there are other malicious apps that take advantage of the fact that people don’t read the terms of service and often just hit “accept.” They may inadvertently give the app permission to access files and folders on a device that it shouldn’t have access to.
- Networks – Remote work doesn’t always take place at home. Connecting to a company’s server via unsecured wifi networks could make an employee vulnerable to an attack. In addition, if employees are not using encryption-based applications for communication, hackers and service providers may be able to intercept sensitive information.
- People – When employees are working from home using multiple mobile devices, those devices may also be accessible to more people. While a child, spouse, or roommate would probably not intentionally try to compromise security, it is possible that they could download a malicious app or respond to a dangerous text message.
MDM allows you to mitigate those threats by allowing you to configure policies and push them to multiple endpoints remotely. You can also manage and deploy company-approved applications in the same manner.
Developing an MDM policy
Developing an MDM policy begins with assessing your organization’s current device landscape and deciding if you want to change it. The following are common structures:
- Bring your own device (BYOD) – Employees are allowed to use their personal mobile devices for business purposes. This is the most common policy.
- Choose your own device (CYOD) – The company allows employees to choose from a list of pre-approved devices, and will either purchase the device or reimburse the employee for the purchase.
- Corporate owned and chosen – The company buys and distributes mobile devices to employees in the same manner that they would distribute laptops.