In 2020, a mobile device management platform is absolutely essential for a business.
Why is this? In the simplest terms, there’s a lot more to look after today than there has ever been in the past.
Fueled by the rise of Internet of Things (IoT) technology, the number of endpoints that exist in any given office is in the order of magnitudes higher, meaning IT staff have a tough task ensuring the security of their organization.
In 2015, the number of connected IoT devices worldwide was 4.9 billion. By the end of 2020, that figure is expected to rise to 20 billion.
Put simply, we have more devices to protect than ever, and a strong system for mobile device management is becoming a mainstay for IT departments all over the country.
So today we’re asking: what makes a good MDM solution? What should you expect, and what should you be looking out for when implementing a system?
Mobile Device Management Explained (Briefly)
Before we jump right into it, let’s take a quick moment to look at exactly what MDM is.
Mobile device management is a means to secure and monitor all your devices under one network.
The reason this is necessary is two-fold:
- To substantially lower the likelihood of being attacked by cybercriminals.
- To uniformly provision, standardize, and deploy devices just as you would a desktop in the office.
The risk to security is a big factor for most businesses, especially those who are increasingly concerned about the number of cyberattacks that are affecting SMBs in 2020.
96% of IT decision makers believe their organizations are susceptible to external cyberattacks, and security breaches have increased 67% since 2014, many of them targeting small- and medium-sized businesses.
MDM is an attractive platform for these companies because it means they can get the security and protection they need to keep their organizations safe from cybercrime.
What Does Your Mobile Device Management System Need?
With all that said and done, let’s take a look at the core aspects you should expect from your MDM solution.
For this example, we’re going to be examining the Meraki MDM toolset developed by Cisco. As a matter of disclosure, Impact is partnered with Cisco.
We take pride in the variety of solutions we use for our packages, with each one serving a specific purpose because they’re the best for the job and not as a matter of convenience.
To see all of our technology partners and to get a look at the solutions that power our offerings, click here.
Provisioning is where your IT team will setup devices so that they’re ready to use—this will typically involve installing the right software and registering the correct certificates for use on the network.
A quality strategy for securing your devices in the office begins with a strong policy for provisioning them.
Offices are more mobile today than ever; in fact, Microsoft found that 67% of employees use personal devices at work, and 60% use a smartphone for work purposes—a further 31% desire the ability to do so.
There are so many devices that are connected to company networks without any kind of provisioning (or a poorly thought out policy) that companies are struggling to ensure their devices are enrolled to the same standard.
Particularly for those with no provisioning, this should be a cause for concern; if devices don’t have the right apps, access privileges, or connectivity settings, then the business is putting itself in danger of a breach.
Employees use their mobile devices constantly at work; often to access and handle company data and information. What if the device accessing that data is unsafe to use? What if it doesn’t have the correct setup?
The answer is that you’re at risk because the devices that workers are using are not safe to use and are unprotected.
Manual provisioning, which is still very common among businesses, is time-consuming and tedious for the IT teams who have to spend hours of their day making sure each and every device is up and running correctly—or worse still; relying on employees to do it themselves.
A quality MDM solution should allow IT to set up and define specific profiles companywide, letting the cloud automatically push the settings and requirements to devices as they connect to the network.
This should include a variety of settings such as wireless connectivity, VPN access, and other network security measures that need to be established during provisioning.
A good system for monitoring your devices is crucial.
This is more the case today than in any previous year. Because of the pandemic, workers (and their devices) have been forced out of the office, and while they are slowly coming back, expectations of remote work have changed among employees.
74% of businesses intend to shift some employees to remote work permanently post-COVID.
Related Post: Infographic: 10 Remote Work Statistics You Need to Know
This means that in the very near future, if not now already, the majority of organizations will have to contend with managing remote devices, which is why good monitoring of every device in your company is important.
Management in one dashboard
Like ourselves, most of our clients—or anyone, for that matter—have a whole range of devices using a number of varying operating systems. iOS, Android, Windows; all under one network.
Most MDMs will offer the ability to manage different device systems, but very few will allow users to manage PCs, Macs, mobile devices, and the network at-large from a centralized dashboard in the MDM system.
This is one of the reasons we use the Meraki MDM solution at Impact, for ourselves and for our clients—it makes the jobs of IT staff that much easier and lets them organize entire networks of devices with more assurance.
The reason for this assurance is simply that when they’re working from one unified dashboard, it’s significantly more effective at performing all the tasks you’d expect from your IT team.
Pushing updates, deploying software and apps, enforcing security policies, and troubleshooting—all these aspects of monitoring are made simpler and more effective by using a mobile device management system that utilizes a central management platform.
Finally, the third most important part of your device management solution—making sure your business is safe from attack.
We’ve already discussed how the remote work environment has impacted the need to proactively monitor and provision devices that live outside the office; there are of course major security concerns, too.
Most people working from home with a company laptop are highly unlikely to have enterprise-level security on their old Wi-Fi router, and so it’s incumbent on the company to make sure that these devices are secured and not at risk of being breached.
One of the ways businesses ensure this security is by using a company virtual private network—in effect keeping everyone under the same network as if they were in the office—but that can only go so far, and pushing security policies for devices is still a necessity.
Security policy enforcement
An MDM solution should allow your IT team (or your MSP) to be able to enforce your security policy efficiently.
Again, through a central management program, every device in your network can be aligned with your policy by restricting access to certain apps or installations and ensuring the correct password and encryption protocols are being followed.
They should also have the ability to revoke access to the company network should a device contravene the standardized security settings—this would typically be the case if an end user disabled the antivirus or uninstalled a necessary security measure. In these instances, a good MDM will automatically pick up on it and withdraw the certificate until the issue is remedied.
Bring your own device (BYOD) support should be integrated into the mobile device management system, allowing extensive oversight of devices.
This grants significant advantages in extreme cases—for example, if an employee reports a device stolen, your IT team should have the ability to remote-wipe it so as to avoid the possibility of any data being taken.
There is a swath of mobile device management systems on the market today—and with good reason; the market for securing and monitoring devices for businesses has expanded enormously in recent years.
For SMBs, the pressure to ensure that devices under network are handled properly is higher than ever—particularly as the consequences of being a victim of a breach are a heavy burden for most.
Getting an MDM solution that can get the job done is critical, and one that can do provisioning, monitoring, and security not just adequately, but expertly, is something worth considering for businesses of all sizes.
This article was written in partnership with Cisco Meraki. Meraki is used by over half a million customers worldwide and has an untarnished reputation for cybersecurity excellence. For more information about Meraki and what it can do for you, visit https://meraki.cisco.com/.