What is Mobile Device Management (MDM)?
Mobile Device Management (MDM) is the systematic oversight of mobile devices, primarily pertaining to their usage and security. This entails implementing a strategy that monitors vital device data, controls the installation of applications, and enforces remote security measures in cases of loss or theft. Additionally, MDM includes the capability to trace the location of mobile devices, offering tracking options based on both user and geographical criteria.
In certain corporate environments, mobile devices have entirely replaced traditional desktop computers, and this radical transformation has been made possible by the advent of cloud computing. With all operations running in the cloud, employees have the flexibility to access data, applications, and the company network from practically anywhere with an internet connection. This unparalleled ease of use underscores the critical significance of mobile device management.
Why is Mobile Device Management (MDM) Important?
MDM boils down to two important points: security and simplified deployment.
MDM and Security
A strict mobile device management policy is the best line of defense against both external and internal threats.
MDM Security Secures BYOD Policies
A considerable number of employers have instituted a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, which grants employees the flexibility to use their personal devices not only within the workplace but also while working remotely, whether it’s from home or in public spaces like local coffee shops that offer public Wi-Fi access.
Accessing public, unsecured Wi-Fi networks carries inherent risks. Some cybercriminals regularly scan such networks in search of sensitive information. One common cyber attack that occurs over public Wi-Fi involves individuals unknowingly connecting to a hacker’s network, mistaking it for the legitimate establishment’s network.
Cybercriminals frequently establish imitation networks with names that closely resemble an establishment’s official Wi-Fi network. When someone unwittingly connects to these imitation networks, the attacker gains visibility into all their web browsing activities and may also record keystrokes to obtain login credentials.
MDM security solutions have the capability to implement device applications that can enforce a VPN (Virtual Private Network) or compel the use of a private Wi-Fi hotspot, thereby preventing employees from connecting to public Wi-Fi networks.
MDM Streamlines Deployment
Mobile device management (MDM) entails the creation of a centralized framework for overseeing a variety of device types, each running different operating systems, including iOS, Windows, Android, tvOS, Chrome OS, and macOS. This centralized management approach simplifies the deployment of MDM solutions in the cloud.
Although there are some tasks that may still require manual intervention, the bulk of MDM operations are facilitated by client-server software, which utilizes device notification services to establish connections and communication.
How Does Mobile Device Management Software Work?
Within the MDM framework, all mobile devices linked to the MDM server function as clients. The MDM server carries out remote operations, such as the distribution of configurations, applications, and policies to every connected device. IT administrators have the capability to remotely oversee all endpoints through the MDM server, with endpoints encompassing devices such as laptops, tablets, iPods, and smartphones.
What are the Advantages of Using MDM Solutions?
MDM solutions offer a multitude of benefits, with the most prominent being the substantial time savings achieved by automating repetitive tasks. For instance, the arduous processes of manually configuring Wi-Fi settings on numerous devices or instructing employees to install specific applications can be entirely simplified and expedited through the implementation of MDM solutions.
Other advantages include:
- Increased productivity and efficiency, even on personal devices: When a personal mobile device is controlled by the MDM server, non-essential applications can be prevented from being used during work hours. This will prevent employees from accessing social media and other applications while they are on the clock. When employees aren’t distracted by social media notifications and other in-app notices, they’ll give work their full attention and will be more productive.
- Meeting compliance regulations: Certain regulations require strict data protection measures. MDM solutions can automate this protection across all devices connected to the MDM server.
- Remote management: Devices connected to the MDM server can be updated, patched, and managed remotely without interrupting the user’s experience.
Mobile Device Management is Essential for Every Business
Due to the increasing prevalence of advanced cybersecurity threats, mobile device management has become imperative. MDM serves as the linchpin for establishing a secure, efficient, and productive mobile workforce.
Best Practices for Mobile Device Management
- Develop a Comprehensive Mobile Device Policy: Create a comprehensive mobile device policy as an integral part of your overall cybersecurity strategy. This policy should clearly define the organization’s acceptable use of mobile devices, covering aspects like device security, data protection, and app usage guidelines. Ensure that this policy undergoes regular review in collaboration with IT, security, and business stakeholders and is consistently communicated to all employees.
- Establish Usage Policies: Set usage policies either as part of your comprehensive mobile device policy or as standalone guidelines specifically for corporate devices. Start by documenting rules related to data usage, roaming, and international calling to maintain cost control and regulatory compliance.
- Implement Mobile Device Management (MDM): Deploy a robust MDM platform to effectively manage and secure both corporate-owned and BYOD devices. MDM solutions allow for remote device wiping in the event of loss or theft, monitoring of device usage (including cellular and data costs), and automation of security updates and patches.
- Develop Secure Configuration Standards: Establish a secure configuration standard for corporate devices. This includes configuring devices to receive security updates over-the-air (OTA), enforcing strong password policies, enabling encrypted storage for data security, and implementing automated device locking mechanisms.
- Collaborate with Mobile Providers: Collaborate closely with mobile service providers to select the most suitable corporate plan, typically one that offers shared data pools, maximizing cost savings for the organization.
- Employee Training on Mobile Device Security: Conduct comprehensive training sessions for employees on mobile device security. Start by educating them on best practices for securing their personal devices. Ensure that this training extends to cover the security of corporate-owned devices, emphasizing the importance of safeguarding corporate data. If necessary, address industry compliance programs such as HIPAA, PCI-DSS, and Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and make employees aware of the consequences of noncompliance for both the organization and themselves.
- Deliver BYOD-Specific Security Training: If your organization heavily relies on employees using their personal devices for work, offer specialized training on BYOD-specific security measures. Focus on how the organization protects corporate data on personal devices while ensuring the security of employees’ personal data is not compromised.
Q1: Why is Mobile Device Management (MDM) important?
A1: MDM is crucial for two main reasons: security and streamlined deployment.
Q2: How does MDM enhance security?
A2: MDM provides a robust defense against both external and internal threats by enforcing strict device management policies and security measures.
Q3: Can you explain how MDM helps secure Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies?
A3: Certainly. MDM security solutions can enforce VPN usage or compel the use of private Wi-Fi hotspots, preventing employees from connecting to unsecured public Wi-Fi networks, which can be a security risk.
Q4: How does MDM streamline the deployment of devices?
A4: MDM simplifies the deployment of devices with varying operating systems by offering centralized management. Most tasks are automated using client-server software, reducing manual intervention.
Q5: What are the primary advantages of using MDM solutions?
A5: The main advantages include significant time savings through automation, increased productivity and security, meeting compliance requirements, and efficient remote management of devices.
Q6: Can you explain how MDM enhances productivity on personal devices?
A6: When personal mobile devices are managed by the MDM server, non-essential applications can be restricted during work hours, reducing distractions and boosting productivity.
Q7: What industries benefit from MDM for compliance reasons?
A7: Industries like healthcare (HIPAA), finance (PCI-DSS), and corporate governance (Sarbanes-Oxley) benefit from MDM to meet strict data protection and compliance requirements.
Q8: Can you elaborate on the remote management capabilities of MDM?
A8: MDM enables administrators to remotely update, patch, and manage devices without causing disruptions to the user experience.
Q9: Why is MDM considered essential for every business today?
A9: MDM is essential due to the growing threat of cybersecurity risks. It serves as a critical component in ensuring a secure, efficient, and productive mobile workforce.
Q10: What are the best practices for implementing MDM in an organization?
A10: Best practices include developing a comprehensive mobile device policy, establishing clear usage policies, implementing an MDM platform, defining secure configuration standards, collaborating with mobile providers, and providing thorough employee training on mobile device security, including BYOD-specific security measures.
Mobile Device Management (MDM) is now an essential tool for organizations. It enhances security, streamlines device usage, and ensures compliance with regulations. As cyber threats rise, MDM becomes pivotal in safeguarding data and maintaining a productive mobile workforce. By following best practices, organizations can harness MDM’s power to thrive in the digital age.