Managed IT

The 4 Corners of a Mobile Device Management Security Framework

The 4 Corners of a Mobile Device Management Security Framework

by Brad Ancell - July 7, 2022

Mobile devices have become ubiquitous and integral to the business world. Companies increasingly depend on mobile devices to handle tasks ranging from the critical to the mundane.

However, mismanaged mobile devices are a security risk that may hamper your productivity and hurt your enterprise’s bottom line. This is where Mobile Device Management (MDM) comes into play.

Before diving deeper into the four main principles, let's review what MDM is.

What is Mobile Device Management (MDM)?

Mobile device management (MDM) incorporates tools and software to help organizations manage, monitor, and enforce employee mobile device policies. The primary purpose of MDM is to protect the business network by securing all mobile devices that connect to it, including:

  • Laptops
  • Smartphones
  • Tablets
  • Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices

In addition to bolstering network security, MDM also empowers employees by enabling them to use their own devices to work more efficiently. A suitable MDM solution strikes a harmonious balance between user productivity, device management, and policy compliance.

Mobile Device Management: 4 Principles for Success

Managed IT services for mobile device management (MDM) have evolved far beyond basic lock and wipe capabilities. Enterprises facing mobility management challenges require a system built on a secure foundation. A comprehensive mobile device security framework stands on four key principles: the devices, apps, data, and network.

1) The Mobile Devices

MDM starts with the devices, both user-owned (BYOD) and organization-issued. The key question for IT support personnel is whether or not they can monitor, control, and protect a wide range of mobile devices. Laptops, tablets, and smartphones with an array of operating systems have become essential to the modern enterprise and present unique security challenges.

Mobile IT security begins with visibility into all the devices connected to the network. Everything connected should be identified and categorized using several data points starting with, but not limited to, MAC and IP addresses. Devices should have the latest anti-virus and anti-malware software installed and regularly audited for:

  • Ownership (BYOD or corporate)
  • Operating systems
  • Installed apps
  • Location

Organizations should create and implement mobile device policies to help report lost or stolen devices. These devices should be wiped and locked from the managed network. This also applies to devices whose users leave the organization.

2) The Apps

Today, apps have become a necessity in personal and professional lives. Access to e-mail, the Internet, and our documents is essential, but keeping them secure is a headache for IT departments. Apps are diverse, and many don’t share the same security frameworks. Inventory here is essential. Identify all installed apps and check for compliance with privacy and access policies.

Depending on the enterprise’s mobility requirements, organizations must provide many mobile, web, SaaS (software-as-a-service), Windows and data center apps. Some managed IT solutions have included enterprise-unified app stores, where all these apps are available to qualified users in one place. The IT challenge is to secure custom and third-party apps and apply policy controls. Users must also be denied access to apps and data after departing the organization.

3) The Data

File sharing across multiple devices has become essential to many enterprises. File sharing enhances efficiency, allowing users to access the latest data anywhere at any time. Unfortunately, this has led to more data leakage, malware outbreaks, and system compromises. Encrypting data and controlling access to data-sharing apps while allowing users to benefit from them is a significant IT challenge.

User-friendly, cloud-based storage tools, such as Dropbox and Google Drive, have become increasingly popular but present enterprises with data security challenges. Hence, many IT solutions for mobile data security have abandoned the one-size-fits-all approach and adopted a tiered system, providing full-stack data access only to those employees with a "need to know." Other workers may only have access to a few task-specific apps. To minimize data leakage, all mobile data should be encrypted and wiped upon user departure or device loss.

4) The Network

Any MDM solution must address network security. Certainly, protecting the enterprise network from viruses and malware delivered via the mobile route is a top priority. IT managers must continuously monitor and control network access based on device status and user profile.

MDM solutions must be capable of keeping sensitive information protected behind a firewall. MDM solutions should integrate easily with the existing IT infrastructure and allow room for future expansion. Managing increased bandwidth needs is another IT mobility challenge.

Simplify Security with Mobile Device Management (MDM) Solutions

With a robust mobile device management (MDM) solution, IT departments can effectively manage mobile devices regardless of their type or operating system. As a result, IT personnel can more effectively prevent illegitimate use of company resources and avoid data breaches and litigation that could damage brand reputation.

Businesses should partner with managed IT specialists to implement an MDM solution designed to solve their unique mobile challenges. The right MDM solution will keep all of your devices secure while maintaining a flexible and productive workforce.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on December 24, 2013, and has been updated for accuracy and current best practices.

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