Mobile Device Management (MDM) Defined
Mobile device management (MDM) is security software that enables IT departments to implement policies that secure, monitor, and manage end-user mobile devices. This not only includes smartphones, but can extend to tablets, laptops, and even IoT (Internet of Things) devices.
MDM helps ensure the security of a corporate network while allowing users to use their own devices and work more efficiently.
How Mobile Device Management Works
Mobile Device Management requires two components in a data center:
- A server component, wherein IT administrators configure and send out policies through a management console.
- A client component, which receives and implements the commands on end-user mobile devices.
Mobile device management has evolved over time. Scalability was initially an issue, but central remote management has eliminated antiquated steps like SIM card and client-initiated updates. Modern MDM software can automatically detect new devices connected to the corporate network and apply over-the-air commands/settings for streamlined policy implementation.
BYOD and Mobile Device Management
The increasing consumerization of IT has led to more employees bringing their personal devices to workplace, and with these devices arises the need to monitor and manage them. BYOD has many benefits, including reducing equipment costs and freeing up time for IT (as employees will manage their own devices), but can introduce security risks if devices are not adequately monitored.
According to a Microsoft study, two-thirds of employees use personal devices at work regardless of whether or not a BYOD policy is in place. Unsanctioned technology like this is often refered to as shadow IT. Mobile device management is critical to a strong BYOD policy, allowing employees to use their own devices while covering any potential security gaps.
Mobile Device Management Solutions
Mobile device management is typically executed with a third-party product. Common features of these products include:
- Device inventory/tracking
- Mobile support/management
- Application blacklisting/whitelisting
- Remote service management
- Passcode enforcement
- Alerts for users trying to bypass restrictions with jailbreaking