Protecting Company Data with Mobile Device Management

by / Wednesday, 08 May 2013 / Published in Business

Mobile Devices

One of the biggest data security challenges facing IT and business management today is the problem of maintaining effective control over data that is accessed by employees via mobile devices. Some scary scenarios to consider:

  • Whether it’s the company-issued tablet that was accidentally left at a coffee shop by a sales rep, or a smart phone that was lost in a cab at the airport by a harried executive, you have little control over the physical security of mobile devices in your organization.
  • Rogue malware apps installed on smart phones (by unwitting users) put your data at risk. You have little control over software that can be installed on mobile devices.
  • As if that’s not enough, consider the trend known as  BYOD, or “bring your own device,”  where employees supply their own personal hardware and software to access company email, networks, files, databases and applications. In this environment, you have a true Wild West scenario, with few rules and no control over the devices or software that touch your corporate data.

Have we scared you enough yet? Enough to get moving and solve the problem?

Up until now, even if you wanted to, you’ve had few options to protect your company data on mobile devices.

But today, you can now take advantage of a new wave of solutions: cloud-based mobile device management (MDM) services.

Mobile Device Management: Cloud-based Protection

Just as you would use cloud-based email services, a cloud-based MDM service enables small- and medium-size businesses (SMBs) to cost-effectively protect company data on mobile devices. And like most software as a service (SaaS) technology solutions, MDM in the cloud enables the purchase of protection by the month, and by the device.

The cloud software model delivers numerous benefits including cost predictability, ease of implementation, best-of-breed software and turnkey operations. One of the somewhat hidden benefits is the ability to purchase enterprise-class mobility management at SMB prices. If you did it on your own, it could be cost-prohibitive to achieve the same level of service.

But of all the benefits, perhaps the most important is this: cloud-based MDM services enable you to start managing your mobile data risks quickly and easily.

MDM in the Cloud: How it Works

The start up process for employees is often as simple as performing a brief (just a few minutes), one-time, over-the-air (OTA) enrollment through their mobile device.

As part of the enrollment process, you can require a new password to be created that meets your security requirements. Strong passwords are an important control for access to any data or IT system. To achieve the best security, you will want employees to use sufficiently complex (hard to crack) passwords, and you’ll want them to change those passwords frequently.

How to Get Started with MDM: Boiling the Ocean?

Start your MDM project with a quick win in mind, and solve a manageable chunk of the problem: secure the data and devices that are out there now.  At some point, you will want to approach your mobile data security challenge with a holistic point of view, considering all systems and scenarios in your organization. This big picture view can encompass your complete IT infrastructure—moving beyond just devices to consider your  enterprise mobility management (EMM)  strategy. This would cover everything from devices to wireless networks, mobile applications and all related services. But you don’t want to attempt to boil the ocean—that scope is too large and not a path to success for IT projects.

You want to quickly reduce the risk that is on the table right now: the risk to your firm from mobile devices, whether they are company-owned or part of a BYOD program. It’s easy to get started with an MDM service test. Pick a department or segment of your user population, and roll out a mobile device management service. Get your feet wet with a small group, so you can learn the best practices of an MDM rollout for your organization—everything from policy development to user training and system monitoring. Following that success, roll it out to the rest of your users.

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