The Ultimate Guide on Mobile Device Management (MDM)

In the current global scenario, the portable and user-friendly nature of mobile devices has multiplied their popularity in working environments manifold. Trends like work-from-home and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) are fuelling the growth of mobile and application usage even further. According to Bitglass, around 85% of the companies have made way for BYOD policies after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the multidimensional features of mobile devices offer several advantages, they can have their own set of drawbacks as well. Leveraging productivity through mobile phones can also lead to critical security issues like unauthorized access and data leakage. However, the planned implementation of Mobile Device Management (MDM) across your enterprise can help you simplify the challenges associated with mobile devices. 

With a suitable Mobile Device Management (MDM) application or solution, your system admins and security experts can utilize a unified console to control and manage the devices used across the organization and ensure that security stays at the top. In this blog, we will guide you through the most important aspects of Mobile Device Management and help you understand how you can implement it inside your organization to reap the maximum benefits.

What is Mobile Device Management (MDM)?

Mobile Device Management, also referred to as MDM is a type of security software that is used by an IT department to monitor, manage and secure employee mobile devices. MDM is generally used to secure all the mobile devices that are deployed across multiple mobile service providers and across multiple mobile operating systems being used inside an organization. It is about the management of all sorts of mobile devices that include smartphones, tablets as well as laptops, within the workplace.

With Mobile Device Management, IT admins can control and distribute their planned security features and policies across an employee or user mobile devices which access sensitive business information. This whole process makes sure that the corporate data is always secure and accessible only to those who should be able to access it.

An ideal Mobile Device Management tool:

  • Includes application management, file synchronization and sharing, data security tools and support for either a corporate-owned or personally owned device.
  • Is compatible with all the common handheld device operating platforms and applications.
  • Is capable of functioning through multiple service providers.
  • Can be implemented directly over the air.
  • Allows you to deploy next-generation hardware, operating platforms and applications, in quick time.
  • Allows easy addition or removal of mobile devices from the system so as to ensure optimum network efficiency and security.

Workflow of Mobile Device Management ( MDM )

Mobile device management is mainly dependent on an endpoint software agent known as an MDM agent. It also relies on an MDM server that resides either on the cloud or inside the business premises. For starters, the IT personnel configure device management policies through the server's device management console.

The server later pushes these device management policies to the MDM agent on the mobile devices. The built-in APIs of the device's operating system communicate with the MDM agent and those policies are applied. Apart from these management policies, even applications can be deployed to the devices using the MDM server.

Why Do You Need Mobile Device Management?

Why do you need mobile device management?

Along with employees, most businesses are also finding that it is promising to let employees work remotely on their own devices without losing any productivity. And this concept of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) or work remotely is the primary reason why there is a need for safe and secure mobile device management software.

No doubt BYOD has its own benefits like reduced equipment costs, increased employee satisfaction and efficiency and decreased IT staff burden, but it has its own set of challenges as well. The risk in BYOD is that of the data being exposed to security threats or threats from malicious programs. And this is where the role of mobile device management begins.

A mobile device management platform becomes a must when your organization plans to closely monitor the mobile device usage of employees. There are numerous other benefits of having mobile device management software for your business which we will discuss here:   

1. To Remotely Manage your Mobile Devices

With the help of an efficient MDM tool, you can remotely manage the mobile devices of your workforce and assess all the processes and tasks 24/7 to establish control and protection. These tools also ensure that your data is securely transmitted and that too across the required destinations only.

2. To Enhance Productivity

It’s interesting to notice that apart from all the other obvious benefits, mobile device management software also helps boost the productivity of your employees. With the help of an efficient MDM tool, users can swiftly get on their corporate networks and access the resources to drive the business forward within no time. Moreover, with the help of digital forms, user information is collected and processed even faster to save time and manpower.

3. To Enhance Security

MDM software ensures that the required security steps are being taken by the employees while they are working on the company and personal devices and that they are properly coordinating with the established security provisions. Devices can also be configured to secure business and personal data and disable stolen or lost devices. You can also restrict access to sensitive data and configure sharing options.

4. To Meet Compliance Regulations

With the advent of modern regulatory compliances like the GDPR and HIPAA, it has become essential for businesses to keep an eye on their security checkpoints. These regulatory compliances require that activities of unauthorized devices must be kept under a check so that they could not compromise the security of your business. MDM tools ensure that all these requirements are met by strengthening the network integrity and monitor all the actions to ensure that legal and regulatory standards are met.

5. To Save on Unnecessary Costs

Mobile device management tools help you identify unused and missing devices and therefore help your organization limit the number of device purchases. With the advent of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), the expenditure of companies is also getting reduced massively as employees get to bring their own devices and use them seamlessly with the help of MDM tools. A combination of these simple ways is helping businesses cut huge volumes of operating costs. 

6. For Remote Assistance and IT Support

Modern MDM tools let your IT support teams view the screens of users remotely and extend real-time support to them. Moreover, field staff can utilize the tool to request access to information and take help from on-premises staff remotely. 

6. To Control Device Updates

Another important benefit of mobile device management is that business managers can control device updates on devices across the organization and conduct them automatically instead of being reliant on manual updates. This not only helps in data protection but also in remaining compliant with the established regulations.

Features of Mobile Device Management

Through the built-in APIs, mobile operating system developers and device manufacturers can control what a mobile device management software can or cannot do on the device. As vendors have started to realize its potential, they now configure their devices to observe almost similar functionalities with MDMs. Some of the common features of mobile device management include:

1. Device Tracking and Inventory

An MDM solution should include a set of mechanisms to enable the tracking and inventory management of devices that are connected to the corporate servers and can access sensitive information. The solution should be able to track and record information like device model, OS and version, MAC address etc.

2. Establishing an Enterprise App Store and App Distribution

Mobile device management solutions can implement an enterprise-level app store to manage which apps users can use to access corporate information. They can also set rules on what accesses users have and which apps can communicate with each other in order to ensure security. This also helps in rolling out updates on a timely basis.

3. Enforcement of Passwords and Data Encryption

Ideal MDM service providers have features that enforce the implementation of enhanced password and encryption features like multi-factor authentication, strong passwords, hashing of passwords, use of data encryption to prevent data theft etc. These features are generally implemented through user and group policies.

4. Blacklisting and Whitelisting of Apps

MDM solutions have the capability to ‘Whitelist’ and ‘Blacklist’ apps based on their intrinsic security features. The whitelisted apps are allowed to install on user devices while the blacklisted apps are prevented. The solution can also prevent the installation of those apps which don’t have valid cryptographic signatures.

5. Remote Wipe

Remote wipe is an essential security feature when it comes to Mobile Device Management. It enables security admins to remotely erase the data or the entire memory on a device in case it gets stolen or lost.

Big Names Utilizing MDM

Big names in the corporate industry like Apple, Spiceworks, etc. are making good use of the mobile device management system. Apple has made it easier to manage iOS devices on corporate networks so that the IT department of the organization can lay its focus on transforming the way employees work.

iOS provides tools that make it easy for the IT department to manage and secure corporate data, App Store and in-house enterprise apps; still allowing the employees with freedom and flexibility of using their iOS devices the way they always have. MDM enables productivity for all; both the employees and the organization.

5 Tips to Make your Mobile Device Management (MDM) Strategy Better

5 Tips to Make your Mobile Device Management (MDM) Strategy Better

Now that we have discussed what MDM is and what it can do to enhance the security posture inside your organization, it’s time to understand how you can improve your organization’s Mobile Device Management strategy even better. Here is how you can do it:

1. Lock and Wipe Away Everything

A good MDM strategy is built to shut down any possible means of losing information that's on a mobile device that is not physically available to you anymore or the one that you have lost. Along with email, calendar, and contacts, Mobile Device Management must allow the IT department to wipe away any documents from the device that may hold proprietary information. It is essential to lock and wipe the device completely so that none can make the wrong use of the information on it.

2. Decide Which Devices Need to Be Mobilized

It is foremost important to decide who needs to be mobile and on which devices. Mobile Device Management strategy needs to support all necessary management and operational functions and also guard against threats at the same time. It is necessary to ensure that all effective security and acceptable-use policies are working and enforced. Focus on establishing MDM objectives, evaluating solutions and define the set of allowed mobile devices.

Related Topic: 5 Tips to Make your Mobile Application Management (MAM) Strategy Better

 

3. Understand the Scope and Limitations Of MDM

Before building up an MDM strategy, you need to know that MDM capabilities can include configuration management, local policy enforcement, security management, usage monitoring, auditing, reporting and more. Only after knowing all about the scope and limitations of MDM, you will be able to build a strong MDM strategy.

4. Ensure to Fit MDM into The Overall IT Management Strategy

IT managers must ensure that the Mobile Device Management strategy fits all operational requirements and constraints of the overall IT management strategy. The two strategies must go hand and hand and must not collide in any way. You can opt for cloud-based software-as-a-service solutions for greater convenience and scalability. It should also set clear vendor product and service licensing terms.

5. Data Loss Prevention (DLP) Policy

Data Loss Prevention or DLP policy is a security strategy employed by organizations to ensure that critical and sensitive information is not leaked outside the business’s network. Seamless synchronization of mobile device management with the laid out DLP policy can help establish required controls and prevent unauthorized users from leaking sensitive information. With MDM, a business can stick to its DLP policy by monitoring data flows and user permissions to save corporate data from insider threats.

How Appknox can Help with MDM and Data Security?

When it comes to Mobile Device Management, Appknox is known for its industry-leading capabilities. At Appknox, we ensure that that mobile device management aligns with your organization’s overall IT strategy and that your business goals are met without any compromise on quality. Apart from detailed security analysis of mobile applications, we also keep an eye on potential gateways of data loss and other security loopholes and help in effective remediation and mitigation accordingly.

Appknox also regularly tracks your organization’s apps for compliance and makes sure that you remain compliant with HIPAA, GDPR and other significant security standards. Our user-friendly approach makes sure that your Mobile Device Management strategy remains relevant all the time any scope for even the slightest security mishap is neutralized.

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Published on May 19, 2021
Harshit Agarwal
Written by Harshit Agarwal
Harshit Agarwal is co-founder and CEO of Appknox, a mobile security suite that helps Enterprises and Financial institutions to automate mobile security. Over the last 6 years, Harshit has worked with over 300+ businesses ranging from top financial institutions to Fortune 500 companies to set up security practices helping organisations secure their mobile applications and speed up the time for security testing.

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