It’s clear that smartphones and tablets have hijacked the future of business computing. Fortunately, there’s a way to keep track of users and their devices and monitor the security of your network at the same time.
Yes, a significant number of us still use desktops and laptops to do our jobs, but it’s hard to ignore the influence of smartphones and tablets in the workplace.
As you know, convenience is driving the BYOD trend. Smartphones and tablets enable workers to be more productive whenever and wherever they happen to be. Consequently, BYOD has taken on a life of it’s own at most companies, despite IT managers’ concerns over data and network security.
So, IT’s challenge is to take control of the situation and put in place a system for managing the various devices employees use to connect to the corporate network — without hampering employees’ ability to work.
Mobile Device Management (MDM) software is widely seen as the most efficient way to do so. Gartner predicts that by 2017, 65% of companies will have a MDM solution in place.
Perhaps the biggest reason is this: With an MDM tool, employees can use the devices they prefer and IT can manage it all, from the time devices are activated, to the time they’re decommissioned.
Important features of MDM software
- Robust asset inventory capabilities – You need to be able to manage devices and related assets (like removable memory) from activation through decommissioning. You also need to be able to classify devices as either unknown, authorized (employee or guest-owned), provisioned (company-owned), or decommissioned.
- Integration – One thing you may find helpful is if the MDM can integrate with other systems you already have in place to track desktops, printers, phones, etc.
- Supported platforms – Obviously, you need to check to see which platforms are supported, including operating systems and vendors, models and versions.
- Device configuration – Find out if you can apply your own standard configuration to each device after it’s activated or reset. For company-owned devices, you may want to override factory or carrier defaults to require passwords, implement encryption, or block non-business apps.
- Security management – Security features deserve a hard look. At the very least, you need to be able to:
- Authenticate users when they log onto the device and the network
- Enforce strong password policies
- Wipe devices remotely in case one is lost or stolen or the user leaves the company
- Create white lists (allowed apps) and black lists (banned apps) and enforce them
- Control device settings to prevent risky user behavior
- Encrypt data stored on the device
- Back up and restore company data
- Track sensitive data to maintain compliance and prevent data leakage