Managing Enterprise Mobility Through Mobile Device Management

August 18, 2021

Many employees worldwide use their personal mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops etc.) for both official and leisure purposes. According to a Deloitte survey, 42% of German employees use their personal smartphones to do official work. It is because, generally, it's easier to perform certain tasks remotely via a mobile device. Personal mobile devices are primarily used for official tasks such as e-mailing, scheduling appointments, attending meetings, and communicating via instant messages. 

But why do enterprises allow their employees to use their personal devices for official work? According to the same survey, around 59% of the workforce does not always work at a fixed location (dedicated desk). Thus, allowing employees to work with mobile devices provides freedom to work remotely. 

Furthermore, the companies save a good amount of their equipment purchase and maintenance costs. But with the increasing trend of enterprises allowing employees to bring their own devices for work, the risk of data leaks and unauthorized access also increases exponentially. Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) renders mobile devices vulnerable to various kinds of malware and phishing attacks. 

In Q3 2020, Kaspersky mobile protective solutions blocked 16 million attacks on mobile devices, an increase of 2.2 million on Q2 2020.

Due to the small screen of mobile devices and our innate desire for prompt action on mobile notifications, they are the most vulnerable to phishing attacks. There are various ways through which data breaches can take place.

Some of which are -

  • Network Spoofing- Cybercriminals use fake access points in high-traffic public areas and demand user IDs and passwords for onboarding the phony network. As most people use the same credential combinations for most services, hackers can access user information via the same credentials. 
  • Data Leakage- Various free mobile apps, when granted permissions, can send private and corporate data onto the servers. This information is openly available to advertisers and potential cybercriminals.
  • Unsecured Wi-Fi- No one wishes to use their cellular data when free Wi-Fi is available. Free Wi-Fi is generally unsecured and poses grave danger for data and credential theft.
  • Phishing attacks- The attacker masquerades as a trusted source and sends an e-mail or text message with a malicious link. When the user clicks the link, it downloads malware to the device. 

Apart from malicious cyberattacks and data leaks, managing a large fleet of mobile devices also becomes challenging. Therefore, enterprises need a solution to control the devices efficiently to achieve policy compliances. In addition, they need to centrally manage the devices and push new updates regularly to maintain productivity.

All of this can be easily done through Mobile Device Management (MDM).

What is Mobile Device Management (MDM)?

Mobile Device Management (MDM) is a software that enables an enterprise's Information Technology (IT) admin to keep a tab on corporate/personal mobile devices in the company network. MDM lets the admins administer company-level policies and security on mobile devices. As mobile devices are highly susceptible to malware and phishing attacks, MDM makes the company data as guarded as possible.

An MDM solution can perform various functions such as:

  • Deploy and manage apps on a mobile device. MDM can also manage app permissions and configurations.
  • Push VPN and Wi-Fi settings.
  • Restrict the use of camera, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth using policies to define various permissions.
  • Create a geo-fencing policy, which restricts the company's mobile devices from leaving the premises.
  • Remotely maintain application updates and troubleshoot over-the-air (OTA), thus saving the company's resources in terms of time and effort. OTA is a standard for the transmission and reception of information in a wireless communication network.
  • Lock the screen remotely to prevent unauthorized data access. MDM can even wipe the data clean if a mobile device is stolen or is in a compromising situation. (MDM can usually wipe off only business-related data)
  • Enforce encryption and define passcode requirements.

MDM uses a client-server architecture. The endpoint mobile devices act as a client, and the MDM server pushes configuration and other policies through OTA. Under MDM, the endpoints are centrally managed by the IT admins.

Use cases of MDM:

As mobile devices become prominent in various industries, the use of MDM expands beyond the MNCs. Many other small and medium-sized industries are now using MDM. Some of the use cases of MDM in other sectors are- 

  • Education Industry- Schools and other coaching institutes are gradually adopting tablet-based learning. They need to deploy various applications and software on their devices and protect them from malicious websites and applications. This can be done easily via MDM by remotely configuring the applications and blocking harmful websites.
  • Public Sector- Government employees must comply with stricter security and data protection laws as government data is very sensitive in nature. MDM can help establish control and operational efficiency in public sectors. 
  • Retail and Restaurants- Mobile devices in retail stores are used as checkout kiosks (POS), catalogs screens, etc. In high-end restaurants, they are used to order food and view seating availability. MDM can help setting device restrictions and other industry-specific policies and rules.
  • Healthcare- There is extensive use of mobile devices in healthcare industries nowadays. Gone are the days when nurses used paper forms to record a patient's vitals. A patient's information is susceptible to breach and needs to be guarded. MDM helps protect that information and comply with the necessary standards of the medical industry.

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