Mobile device management: Your 7-part checklist to safer mobility

How many mobile devices are there in your company? Taking phones, tablets, and smart gadgets into account you’ll probably discover that you have more mobile devices than you do employees …

Workers are more connected than ever before, which can be a good thing. However, each of those devices represents a potential vulnerability.

Having a robust mobile device management (MDM) strategy in place is the most effective way to address those vulnerabilities and keep your network safe and secure in the process.

MDM refers both to the policies and safeguards put in place to ensure mobile device security and to the software used to make it happen. When it comes to implementing MDM within your company, there are a host of things to consider. Here’s a checklist covering the seven most important elements.

Decide what to mobilize

It’s crucial to set some limits on what you allow on your network. Whether you require employees to use a company device or implement a bring your own device (BYOD) policy, it’s up to you to decide who needs to be mobile and what operating systems, devices, and apps they’ll be allowed to use.

Mobile Icons

Apart from anything else, setting limits will help you budget. Trying to accommodate every single possible device, system, app, and user will send your costs spiraling.

Set some limits and you will not only save money but also be better able to focus and protect the users, devices, and systems you do allow.

Enforce secure passwords

Everyone knows the importance of strong passwords, but not everyone actually uses them; “password1234” is, after all, much quicker to type than a complicated phrase with symbols and varying cases. But at the end of the day, insecure passwords are a major issue for businesses, especially since it might only take one bad password to grant a cybercriminal access to your entire system.

As part of your MDM strategy, set some guidelines for password strength and complexity. Decide how many failed login attempts can be put down to a bad Monday morning and how many should be treated as suspicious. MDM software will often allow you to implement password policies that outstrip those offered natively by the devices you use.

Tablet device with warning sign

Stay up to date

Updates can be inconvenient and don’t always provide an immediate benefit. We’ve all been guilty of putting them off until a more convenient time — which, unfortunately, never seems to come …

But you need to remember, a device that hasn’t been updated in months is a serious vulnerability, and your MDM policies should be built to address this concern.

Set limits on the versions of apps that you’ll allow, and don’t forget to enforce those limitations. If employees use their own devices, make sure they understand the need to keep their operating system and apps up to date. If you supply devices for your employees, work out an update schedule and stick to it.

Lock and wipe

Consumer Reports once estimated that around seven million phones were lost or irreparably damaged each year in the United States alone. That’s one for every 50 people.

Clearly, a lost phone is a common occurrence, but if that phone contains sensitive company information, it can quickly turn from an inconvenience to a disaster. A lost or stolen phone can be a goldmine for a malicious third party.

Because of this, the ability to remotely lock and wipe lost devices is one of the most important policies for any MDM strategy. It can be one of the most controversial as well, especially since a majority of employees use their personal devices for work purposes (which is why the next point is important).

Get your employees on board

Security isn’t solely a question of the right software and policies. Humans are, in fact, one of the main sources of vulnerability in any system. If your employees don’t understand the importance of mobile device security, they can end up accidentally undermining a lot of the hard work that’s gone into it.

Making device management a part of ongoing security training will help employees understand the need for data security, reduce incidents of data loss, and ensure that workers know what to do if they make a mistake, lose a device, or notice a potential vulnerability.

Consider encryption

For particularly sensitive information, you may wish to enforce encryption through your MDM policies. Many devices are natively capable of encrypting sensitive information, and MDM software can enhance this capability.

However, this is another case where you need to give some thought to scope. Do you need to encrypt all content on all devices or just an isolated sandbox for sensitive files? And how is encryption going to integrate with your existing apps and working practices?

Don’t just set it and forget it

Just like any technology, the field of MDM is constantly growing and changing — as are the threats to mobile devices. Don’t make tackling MDM issues a one-time effort! Instead, it should be something you return to constantly as part of your broader IT security strategy.

How secure is your business?

A robust approach to MDM can radically improve the safety and security of your business — but don’t forget that MDM is just one aspect of IT security. To keep your business safe in the modern world, there are many issues you need to consider.

In order to stay on top of everything security-related, you may wish to take advantage of the experience and expertise provided by a managed IT service provider.