Today smartphones are everywhere, all the time. People are using smartphones for both personal and work purposes. As employees, from entry-level workers to senior-level executives, people prefer smartphones because they can be productive from virtually anywhere. Unsurprisingly, smartphones have become a primary business and productivity tool, and companies encourage mobile devices at work. Besides issuing company-owned devices, modern organizations have established bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies that let employees use personal devices for work.
Moreover, companies are offering a mix of custom in-house, custom third-party, and app store applications for mobile devices to drive productivity. But when organizations give free rein to employees, any missteps along the way can leave the devices they use vulnerable to abuse. In turn, the critical data that smartphones access also becomes vulnerable. So, to encourage workforce productivity and flexibility while staying secure, mobile device management (MDM) solutions become essential.
Android device management at the workplace
Android is one of the most popular operating systems in the world, with billions of active users. Because of the popularity (and diversity) of Android devices, IT and security teams face a unique set of challenges while deploying and connecting devices to enterprise resources. With device management solutions, organizations can apply the correct procedures to become more secure and resilient against security threats.
The goal of Android MDM software is to manage devices, mainly in terms of security and usage. IT teams can apply configurations, applications, and security policies on all devices connected to the device management solution. There are a variety of MDM solutions that have hit the market to help address organizations’ security needs. They provide a range of features and functions, including:
Device enrollment: To manage devices, companies need to connect devices to the MDM solution using a procedure called enrollment. Device management offers a Zero-touch enrollment feature for Android devices. It automates the enrolling process, cuts down the time required to enroll each device manually, and secures unenrolled devices in transit to users.
Policy management: A comprehensive mobile policy is the best defense against internal and external security threats. A policy is a set of rules determining how employees can and should use mobile devices. MDM enforces policies–from email to Wi-Fi and VPN for Android to password length and updates–on all who access company data on smartphones and tablets
App management: Installing certain apps can present privacy and data leakage vulnerabilities. MDM manages all the apps installed on devices. This includes whitelisting or blacklisting certain apps, installing or removing apps remotely, and managing app updates.
Address Security Challenges with Android MDM
Mobile devices have become a target of malware, hackers, and data exploitation due to corporate data stored and transferred on mobile devices. The two major Android security threats are malware and data leaks. MDM offers several policies and features that enhance the security and privacy of Android devices used at work.
Some of the policies include:
Enforcing password policy: IT admins can configure password settings remotely with an MDM solution and push policies directly to devices. This means a password policy can be enforced and updated without end-user involvement. A typical password policy can include an alphanumeric value, minimum password length, minimum number of complex characters, and password history.
Application management: App management policies can blacklist or whitelist apps to prevent users from accessing and installing insecure apps on the device. Sideloading apps is another security risk. It involves downloading and installing apps from unofficial sources and opening devices to new threats. MDM blocks applications from unknown sources. Updating older versions of apps also helps. Regularly updating not only improves device performance but includes critical security patches.
A VPN policy can enhance security by redirecting traffic through a virtual network. VPN ensures that all web-device communication happens through a secure tunnel, preventing unauthorized access. With a VPN policy, only allowed employees get access to corporate assets from any network.
Some of the actions include:
Remote administration: If a mobile device is lost or stolen, MDM software lets IT teams wipe devices remotely to protect company information. Managing devices remotely is a key feature of MDM, including remote troubleshooting, device lockout, and content management.
Applying security to BYOD devices is possible through containerization. Android 5.0 or above devices allow users to set up a work profile to separate work apps and data from personal apps and data. Creating work and personal compartments is possible through MDM. All the apps distributed through the Android MDM software will be considered corporate apps and will be available in the work profile. Additionally, corporate data cannot be transferred from the work container to the personal container.
In case a personal device is lost, stolen, or faces a data breach, only the apps and data present in the work profile are wiped. Personal data remains untouched.
The proliferation of Android smartphones and tablets at work has compelled organizations to take mobile security on the front foot. Because mobile devices carry corporate data, organizations need pragmatic policies to secure both devices and data. An MDM solution brings devices under control for malware protection, device-level security, app-level security, and user-level security.