Mobile Device Management: Curing the headache of lost company data

Virtually every week you read in the news about some large, well-known company suffering from the loss of sensitive corporate information at the hands of their employees. A Symantec study found that people who find a lost smartphone tried to access its private information — including trying to access a banking app — 89 percent of the time. And with so many users connecting their smartphones to their work email or company apps, the chances of sensitive corporate data falling into the wrong hands is more real than ever.

This is where being covered by a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution is key.

What is MDM?

MDM is a software solution that monitors, secures, manages, and supports all mobile devices on its network and can reduce IT support costs and business risk. It can reside in the cloud or a private data center. Hosting an MDM on-premise will incur higher capital costs, obviously, requiring an organization to purchase hardware up front and maintain regular software maintenance. However, some businesses find an on-premise solution is necessary for security or compliance reasons.

With the arrival of distributed computing and Software-as-a-Service, most organizations are finding it cheaper and easier to deploy their MDM solution in the cloud. Cloud-based MDMs are often quicker to set up and offer easier updates with lower capital costs than their on-premise counterparts.

In addition to cost savings, MDM is used to optimize functionality for mobile communications within the organization. But above all else, MDM is about security.

Benefits of an MDM

Ask any one of your IT guys what it’s like to push out a new Windows update through your organization, and you’ll get a sense of what a tremendous undertaking a mobile update can be. Luckily, an MDM allows you to deploy updates and patches over-the-air, and it can all be automated. Instead of having a team that checks each mobile device for every app, firmware, or OS update, the process can be automated and your organization can become leaner and more efficient.

An MDM also greatly eases the concerns that most CIOs have in dealing with the possibility of leaking sensitive company information. MDM security functions include passcode, email, and document encryption; lost device triage, including warn, block, and wiping the device; detection if the device is jail-broken; and app management that separates personal and corporate data. Most devices can also be detected by their GPS function allowing you to locate it if lost. All this functionality and more wrapped up in one tiny virtual package. MDM can be so easy-to-use and affordable that every company supporting BYOD (bring your own device) should be using one to protect access to company resources.

Which MDM is right for me?

There are many MDM solutions out there and there isn’t one universal MDM solution that is a perfect fit for all companies. Will all the decisions to weigh before choosing the right solution, take advantage of live demos and 30 to 60 day trials, and ask lots of questions.

Everyone has a budget, but try to avoid making a decision based solely on price. It might seem like a no-brainer to select the least expensive solution but don’t forget to consider how much money and resources will be required if the solution needs to be managed in-house. All too often companies realize too late that the MDM solution they’ve implemented is more complicated to manage than they originally thought.

An SHI use case

SHI recently changed our MDM solution to MaaS360 by Fiberlink. Our choice was based on a number of factors, the first being Fiberlink’s cloud-based approach to MDM. With so many customers in the public sector and other highly regulated industries, security was also a top concern for us, and Fiberlink has earned FISMA moderate certification from the U.S. government for its compliance with strict information security regulations.

MaaS360 has powerful management and security capabilities to address all market requirements and a unique integration with existing systems (no rip and replace needed). It is simple and fast to use, and we can say from experience that its 24x7x365 customer support (included in the subscription license cost) is exceptional. With well over 1,000 mobile device users under management, so far, so good for SHI and MaaS360.

According to Gartner, the number of smartphones and tablets will exceed the billion mark in 2013, a trend that is “changing the way businesses look at their device strategies.” With the right MDM solution, all those devices can easily be covered by more than a wish and prayer.

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