Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Managing Mobile Devices - 3 Controls you Need to Know

From smartphones to tablets to laptops, these devices connect us to mail, social media, business documents, photos and videos, and more. Whether for work or for personal reasons, the purpose of these devices is to make our lives easier, and to provide timely information in a convenient way. The drawback to easy and quick access to information is the potential for unknown individuals to gain unauthorized access to that data.

Personal devices typically have less important information than business devices, but security threats can be detrimental to both. For a business the threat is constant and measurable. Loss of client personally identifiable information, or PII, can lead to financial penalties, loss of reputation and much more. Mobile devices present greater management issues than those in main office buildings managed by firewall and content filter rules. Mobile devices are often targeted more actively while having less protections. Luckily, there is software that provides management tools which has been created specifically for assisting in managing mobile devices and the security threats that target them.

Managing Mobile Devices - 3 Controls you Need to Know

Consider the following:
  • An employee traveling for work has their laptop stolen and an unknown individual may gain access to the files on that device
  • A family member leaves a device behind in a coffee shop
  • Someone who is no longer an employee fails to return a device provided to them

Listed here are 3 features mobile device management, or MDM, software provides that can help individuals or businesses protect their information. MDM software is effective even when unknown individuals access or control the device. Whether devices store account credentials, company documents, or client information, MDM features can help increase the security of the locally stored data.

An example of Meraki's MDM dashboard.

Remotely lock or wipe a device

The ability to lock a device when it has been temporarily misplaced is critical. This helps protect and maintain the security of the device and company information. For both personal and business devices, this can prevent access to accounts with automatic logins configured, such as is often done with webmail. 

If a device is lost or controlled by a former employee, wiping the device may be the best security response. HIPAA compliance centers on access controls put in place to protect personal information. The ability to remotely wipe a device is one control you can implement in support of this compliance.

Manage disk usage and installed applications

As storage runs low on a device, the response time of the device slows. Managing what applications can be installed, and how much storage different programs can utilize, helps maintain resources and increases the life of the device. Over the long term, this saves families and businesses money. The greater the number of devices used, the greater the savings.

Remotely locate devices using alerts or GPS

If a device is misplaced, MDM can help locate devices faster which may prevent the need to purchase a replacement which can be quite costly. For devices misplaced nearby, utilize the alert feature. If a device is lost and its whereabouts are completely unknown, use the GPS locating feature to find a specific physical location. Knowing the location of a device can help determine if the device needs to be remotely locked or wiped.

The greater the number of mobile devices used, the higher the risk to the security of the data stored on them. Additionally, these devices are at greater risk of being lost or stolen. Mobile device management is software that can be implemented on these devices for the purposes of protecting those devices. Three main features of MDM are the ability to remotely lock or wipe devices, manage disk usage and installed applications and locate devices using alerts or GPS when they are misplaced. MDM can save time, prevent replacement costs and most importantly, reduce the exposure to business and personal data.

As always, data security and protection is critical to businesses, but is also important to individuals. Knowing how to implement protections is key!

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