MobileDeviceManagement_Ny
MobileDeviceManagement_Ny

Mobile Device Management (MDM) – How to Monitor, manage, and secure all your mobile devices

MKO
Do you ever use your personal smartphone for work? Or maybe you even have a designated work phone? With the explosion in capabilities of mobile devices many work tasks have moved from the desktop to mobile devices – and sometimes to private devices. How can organisations make sure that this does not make them vulnerable to IT security threats? This is where Mobile Device Management can help. In this blog post, we go over the basics of mobile device management why you should implement it, and how to choose a provider.

What is MDM?

Simply put, Mobile Device Management is a system that allows you to manage, monitor, and thereby secure mobile devices used by your organisation’s employees. These mobile devices include smartphones, laptops and tablets. This system allows the administrator to monitor, what the different devices are used for and further helps the admin in keeping an eye on potentially suspicious programs and applications. The administrator can also install security measures on the device, making it much easier to make employees use of mobile devices in line with company policies. If a device is stolen or lost MDM also lets the administrator wipe the device remotely, which can save the company’s data from falling into the wrong hands.

Why is MDM important?

Mobile devices have, over the years, become so capable that many employees use them to fulfil tasks that previously were limited to the office cubicle or workspace. This means that employees are accessing the organisation’s system and data on the go, which would make any IT administrator nervous and get sweaty palms. What other applications are on the device? Which networks are the employees using to access the system? What if the device is stolen and someone uses it to access the organisation’s data? These are questions that could keep an IT administrator up at night.

This is where MDM can help the IT administrator get some peace of mind.

Benefits of MDM

MDM has a lot of benefits – some relate to security while others simply make the job of being IT administrator a lot easier. Here is a summary of the major benefits:

Automate the setup of devices. Things like installing the organisation’s standard application and configuring the WIFI can be automated.
Devices can be managed remotely. Has a device has been stolen? Wipe it before anyone can misuse its access to the organisation’s systems.
Enhance the security on the device. Embed your IT security policy on all devices, so that for example a passcode is needed before it can access organisational data.
Control which applications are installed. Monitor what applications are installed, remove unapproved applications and control which new applications can be installed.
Block private applications during workhours. Many people now use their personal devices for work. Sometimes this can make it hard to stay away from applications that are irrelevant for work. MDM can be used to tackle this issue – if that fits with your organisational culture.

How to choose an MDM system

There are many different providers for MDM. Some are free, while others have a monthly cost. Some are good for large organisations and others are lightweight and good for smaller organisations. Therefore, it is important to ask yourselves some questions about your organisations needs before you choose a service and start implementing it. Here are a couple of questions you should explore to help you choose: 

Does the MDM system fit with your current types of devices and number of devices?

You need to find a system that fits the types of devices you use and the number of devices you got in your organisation. You should also consider whether the system can support where you see your organisation in the future. Changing from one service to another can be troublesome and expensive, so consider both your current situation and how scalable the service is.

Does the MDM service integrate with your other systems?

You probably already have different systems in use to secure your network and computers. If you are looking for A MDM system, you need to make sure it is compatible with the other services that your organisation uses, so that no manual tasks can be avoided. If not, you risk having a lot of tasks when it comes to daily operations.

How long has the MDM provider offered this service?

MDM and the likes are quite new systems, so a lot of new providers are constantly appearing – but many also disappear. Therefore, it makes sense to choose a system that has a somewhat long history of delivering the product successfully. In that way you make sure, that you don’t need to find a new system in 6 months if your current provider run out of business.

What level of support does your organisation need?

Free services are awesome because they don’t cost anything (at least financially). But many of the free services come with zero or close to no support. That might be fine if you are up for managing and troubleshooting on your own, but it is certainly something to consider. What kind of resources does your team have and are you up for the task of running the system yourself, or does it make sense to pay a little extra to secure good support and help in times of need.

The difference between Mobile Device Management and Asset Management?

We have also written about IT Asset Management (AM), and we experience that MDM and AM often get mixed up. So let us start by removing any confusion and explaining the difference. MDM allows the admin to monitor use of the device, implement changes on the device and as a last resort wipe the device remotely. AM simply keeps track of which devices (and other IT equipment) are in use and what is installed on them. AM does not allow the admin to change or wipe the device remotely. In a sense, AM can be seen as simple storage monitoring, while MDM allows for much remote interference from the admin. Both functions are important, so having both AM and MDM a great idea.

The next level of MDM

Implementing MDM by itself or with Asset Management as a supplement is a great start when it comes to securing your mobile devices. But if you are working in a large organisation, you will probably find that at some point these systems cannot control all your digital touchpoints. These challenges can be handled through Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) or its ‘big brother’ Unified Endpoint Management (EUM). These types of systems are quite complex, but if you want to learn more about them IBM has a great article explaining them.

Summary

Mobile Device Management (MDM) helps organisations keep an overview of and administer all the mobile devices that their employees use for work. It helps set up these devices, monitor their activity, and wipe them of company data in the case they are stolen. Choosing an MDM system requires some thought and consideration but has great benefits both for the efficiency in the IT administration but also for the company’s IT security. MDM differs from Asset Management in that it gives remote access to the devices enrolled into the system, while Asset Management acts more like a storage management system. Implementing both systems is a great help in handling the introduction of mobile devices into your work processes.
I hope you have learned something new about Mobile Device Management and that I made it easier to approach for your organisation.

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