Mobile Device Management (MDM) Overview

In this article, you will discover:

  • What’s Mobile Device Management (MDM)
  • Who needs MDM and how it works
  • Main components of MDM tools and recommended MDM settings

What is MDM?

Mobile Device Management (MDM) refers to using software that enables IT professionals to automate, control, and secure administrative policies on laptops, smartphones, tablets, and other devices connected to an organization’s network.

Who needs MDM?

MDM facilitates device management within a company and should be installed on all company-issued devices. Every employee should have MDM in place, while contractors without access to sensitive customer information fall outside the MDM solution’s scope.

Why is MDM important?
A stringent mobile device management policy is one of the most effective defenses against external and internal threats.

Mobile Device Management is essential for meeting various security frameworks because it provides a centralized way to secure, monitor, manage, and support mobile devices across an organization. These frameworks, including ISO/IEC 27001, NIST, and GDPR, set forth rigorous standards for data protection, access control, and risk management. MDM tools enable organizations to enforce security policies, ensure that devices comply with these standards, encrypt data, remotely wipe data on lost or stolen devices, and manage software updates and patches. By implementing MDM solutions, organizations can better protect sensitive information, minimize the risk of data breaches, and ensure compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. This is crucial in today’s environment, where mobile devices are ubiquitous and often access or store sensitive corporate data, making them a potential vulnerability if not properly managed.

Secures BYOD Policies 

Many organizations allow employees to use personal devices at work, as well as when working remotely. However, using public, unsecured Wi-Fi networks poses security risks, such as accidentally connecting to a hacker’s network and leaking sensitive data. MDM security solutions can enforce measures such as VPN requirements or private Wi-Fi hotspots to mitigate these risks.

Streamlines Deployment

MDM streamlines the management of multiple devices with various operating systems, such as iOS, Windows, Android, macOS, making centralized management and cloud-based deployment easier.

How Does Mobile Device Management Software Work?

In an MDM program, employees may receive dedicated work devices or enroll their personal devices remotely. Personal devices are granted role-based access to enterprise data and email, along with secure VPN, GPS tracking, password-protected applications, and other MDM software features for enhanced data security.

All connected mobile devices function as clients to the MDM server. The MDM server remotely configures, deploys applications, and enforces policies on each device. IT administrators manage all endpoints, including laptops, tablets, iPods, and smartphones, from the MDM server. They can monitor, troubleshoot, and remotely wipe device data in the event of a breach. More advanced MDM solutions may incorporate machine learning and AI for analysis.

Components of mobile device management tools

Device tracking

Devices can be configured with GPS tracking and other software for real-time monitoring, updates, and troubleshooting. IT professionals can also detect and address high-risk or non-compliant devices, and remotely lock or wipe lost or stolen devices.

Mobile management

IT departments manage mobile devices, ensuring they have necessary operating systems, applications, and addressing functionality issues.

Application security

Application security can involve app wrapping, in which an IT administrator applies security or management features to an application, which is subsequently redeployed as a containerized program. These security features can determine whether user authentication is required to access an app, if data from the app can be copied or stored on the device, and whether users can share files.

Identity and access management (IAM)

Secure mobile management requires robust identity and access management (IAM). IAM regulates user identities associated with devices, offering granular access control with single sign-on (SSO), multifactor authentication and role-based access.

  • Enable remote lock (default for most MDM software)
  • Enable hard disk encryption (i.e. FileVault)
  • Mandate the installation of OS updates
  • Require automatic software updates
  • Implement anti-virus / anti-malware like Windows Defender and MacOS XProtect (enabled by default)
  • Activate screensaver after 15 minutes
  • Enforce password requirements:
    • Require alphanumeric / complex password
    • Minimum password length: 8 characters
    • Maximum grace period: immediately
    • Maximum password age: 6 months
    • Install 1Password as a custom application if available

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