The workplace is becoming much more location independent as people work remotely or from home-offices. There’s also a huge uptake in freelance work. Modern productivity scenarios dictate a simple fact: we don’t have to be in brick-and-mortar offices to be doing good work. Even the habits of office workers are changing.
For instance, it’s not uncommon to work on-the-go in a crowded subway train on a tablet. What is great for person freedom and flexible isn’t so great for security. There is a whole new host of challenges for those responsible. Small and portable devices are difficult to physically secure and are also prone to getting lost or stolen. It is also difficult for companies to work with end-user hardware running operating systems like iOS and Android, which were never initially designed to be managed by an organization.
Mobile device management (MDM) is one of the best concerted efforts that enterprises can take in securing data. It allows for flexibility and for IT departments to manage, secure, and monitor company-issued devices in-house. Security solutions for MDM are typically built to account for a broad array of devices — such as desktops, laptops, phones and tablets — by supporting different operating systems.
MDM allows IT teams to perform a broad array of administrative and security related tasks on their devices. For instance, an IT department can compose a standard suite of applications, functions and settings that is suitable for their workflows. This master image of the system is then used as a reference point so the same combination of apps and settings can be deployed en masse across all hardware. Devices can be configured from the get-go to include these functions and remain updated. It’s a huge time-saver for everyone, as devices don’t have to be individually configured or updated.
Applications, functions and settings would typically encompass implementations such as anti-virus software and firewall settings. Managing so many devices from a central place takes the responsibility out of individual hands. Users no longer need to remember to download updates or make adjustments to certain settings. This results in better security, as devices will always contain the latest security patches and most secure configurations.
Imagine a scenario where a sales manager uses their laptop for an hour while waiting for their flight, on the plane for another few hours — several times a month. When used regularly away from home or office, chances of devices being dropped and damaged, misplaced or stolen goes up drastically.
Considering the treasure trove of information and data stored within devices, this is extremely problematic for organizations. Throw in data and privacy protection laws that are all too common with today’s regulations, and an unexpected incident can quickly become costly to fix.
MDM provides organizations with a huge advantage of being able to track devices. If necessary, they can also issue a remote wipe order to ensure data does not fall into the wrong hands. This is a great thing for organizations, including Contentful, since we are able to ensure proprietary data and information stay confidential. Tracking those devices can also help owners locate their company phone that fell behind a couch, or law enforcement find stolen company property.
Monitoring device status can ensure hardware health is in good standing. Any symptoms that could potentially lead to data loss, such as a failing storage drive or faulty components, can be identified. Measures to mitigate the issue can be put into place.Though it is always important to have a backup of data because catastrophic failures can happen at unexpected times.
The best time for MDM
The ideal time to implement MDM is as soon as possible. Having a single, unified way of managing and keeping all devices up to date is a huge security and productivity boost for an organization.
Although MDM is typically used for company-issued devices, it is also relevant for companies with "bring your own device" policies. MDM can cover digital tools at the workplace as well, such as equipment in conference rooms and desktop computers.
Like everything else in this world, MDM doesn’t come free. However, the cost is nominal when you think about the losses you could incur from data and security breaches. Preventing data from being lost, or worse, falling into the wrong hands, is priceless.
There are many MDM options on the market. The one with the feature set that fits your organization best is something only you can decide. Here at Contentful, we use Cisco’s Meraki to help keep the devices of our employees constantly up to date and secure.
Paired with other measures, such as user password security and other best practices, MDM can help ensure that data stays in the hands of the intended owner. Every organization should look into how to deploy MDM and go about doing that as quickly as they can.