Mobile Device Management (MDM) Overview

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The use of mobile devices within organizations is steadily increasing, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. Zippia reported that around 3 out of every 4 employees use their personal cell phones for work. Mobile devices in the workplace can provide many benefits, but can also bring more risks, which is why mobile device management is needed.

What is Mobile Device Management?

Mobile device management (MDM) is software that gives a company’s IT team the ability to manage employees’ laptops, tablets, or smartphones that are connected to the workplace, and to do so in a centralized location. MDM works to reduce the loss of business data by securing the critical information used on these devices.

What is MDM software?

MDM software is a platform that contains specific programming that allows organizations to manage various mobile endpoints. Common features of MDM software include:

Enrollment via QR code or link

In order to enroll the mobile devices with MDM, a company would generate a QR code or link by their MDM product. A user clicks on the link via the device, which takes the user to a website that downloads a pre-authenticated certificate that says your organization wants to manage your machine. If the user clicks yes, the organization now has some level of access to the user’s machine.

BYOD & Enterprise enrollment types

The two main types of enrollment are BYOD (bring your own device) or corporate-owned. Corporate-owned enrollment means that the company has full control over the device. BYOD allows the user to have both work and personal information stored on the machine, but certain actions taken by MDM prevent the crossover of these two data types.

Policies

Frequently used policies on MDM software include conditions, restrictions, applications, compliance status, and configurations. These policies provide standards or rules that the managed devices must abide by.

Inventory

MDM keeps an inventory of the devices it manages. The inventory includes key machine information such as the device name, manufacturer, OS, serial, carrier, and IMEI. This allows IT to keep track of all mobile devices within the organization.

Remote Actions

A big benefit of MDM software is its ability to perform remote actions on devices. Some of the main actions include locking a device, setting a passcode, rebooting, wiping a device, and installing applications.

Kiosk Mode

For organizations that would like to have the ability to use a shared device as part of their operations, kiosk mode addresses this. Kiosk mode is when MDM enforces very strict configurations for single use cases. It typically enforces the use of a single app, but sometimes multi-app kiosks may be used.

How mobile device management works

MDM can operate with corporate-owned devices or BYOD. With corporate-owned enrollment, the company wipes the machine and they’ll have full access to the device. This allows IT to access, enforce, or restrict anything they want.

With BYOD, it is more granular. IT creates a work profile on the device, which is a containerized virtual box that any work data goes into. Your personal data on the device is stored outside of the work profile. The two types of data don’t crossover, which prevents data transfer by keeping work data virtually contained.

The IT manager has the ability to manage the whole device, but can only see and influence the data in the work profile. This enables privacy for the user while simultaneously securing business information.

Some changes or restrictions will only apply if you’re in the work container, while others can happen at the whole machine level. For example, MDM can’t force you to put a passcode on your whole mobile device, but they can force you to put a passcode on the work container.

MDM deployment and administration

Almost 90% of businesses need their employees to have the ability to access business apps on their mobile devices. Mobile devices are frequently needed both in and out of the workplace, which is why successful MDM deployment and administration is essential.

In order to successfully enable MDM and deploy it to devices, your employees need to be notified. Inform them that if they have business data on any of their mobile devices, the company requires them to have MDM on those devices. All employees must opt in to having MDM.

MDM will only be able to limit what they can access if it is work-related. MDM is not able to control anything outside of work-related files, apps, or access to business data.

Why mobile device management is important

As the use of mobile devices continues to grow, there are more opportunities for crucial data to escape the workplace. Organizations need to adapt and find tools that can solve the issue of potential data exfiltration.

MDM software is used to address that issue. Device restrictions and configurations administered through MDM software all work to keep business data within the workplace.

Common MDM device restrictions and configurations

Here is a list of the six most common restrictions and configurations offered by MDM software:

1) Enforcing passcodes

One of the most basic methods to increase security and prevent unauthorized access is by applying a passcode. MDM cannot require a passcode for the entire mobile device, but they can enforce passcodes for the virtual work container that is stored on the device.

2) Not allowing personal email

The use of personal email in the workplace brings many unnecessary risks. It creates a path through which data can be exfiltrated or malware and cyberthreats can enter in. Restricting emails to only work emails is a simple way to eliminate these risks.

3) Remote lock/remote wipe

Remote lock or remote wipe can be a very useful function in situations where the device is at risk of having unauthorized access. For example, if an employee loses their mobile device, they can call IT to have them either lock or wipe the device through MDM so others don’t have access to the data.

4) Disabling personal information

Disabling personal information on the mobile device is a function made specifically for corporate-owned devices. By not allowing personal information to be stored on these devices, MDM effectively enforces the boundary between work data and personal data.

5) Disabling the camera

While users are in the work container, they cannot use the camera function. Disabling the camera on devices helps to protect business information by not allowing photos to be taken of intellectual property.

6) Removing applications from the work container that may allow transfer of data

A top concern of mobile devices in the workplace is the leakage of critical information. MDM can remove applications on the device that could transfer the data, thus ensuring work data stays in the container.

MDM vs RMM

MDM and RMM are similar in the fact that they manage endpoints, but they have many differences. Laptops are the only type of endpoint that can be managed by both types of solutions.

MDM is used to set up and administer machines, and it’s never used on servers or workstations. It is incredibly strong in the areas of devices it has access to, but is completely non-existent in the areas it doesn’t. This allows IT admins to have full control over work related information while the user continues to have privacy of personal apps, files, and information.

RMM is an agent-based solution used for ongoing and proactive monitoring and management. and it’s never used on tablets or smartphones. It is used by IT teams to gain visibility and control over the assets in their IT environment. This enables them to gain essential information on endpoint health and performance, and maintain and support endpoints through tasks such as patch management or remediation.

Implement MDM to further secure business data

MDM is a helpful administrative tool that manages and controls smartphones, tablets, and laptops in the workplace. Using MDM within your organization can help to tighten the security of the mobile devices in your IT environment.

5 Bite-Sized Ways to Improve Your Business Every Week

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