With the growing number of personal smartphones and tablets entering the workplace, businesses big and small need to develop new strategies to ensure their data remains secure when it leaves the office. Here are some helpful tips to ensure your mobile device management (MDM) program is prepared for the security risks associated with this trend.
1. Is your network up to the task? Bandwidth is a major consideration. In a multi-device world, be prepared for approximately 30 per cent more Wi-Fi and internet usage. If bandwidth is a concern, blocking YouTube, or internet radio apps (while not exactly popular) should be considered.
2. Secure your network. Before you even think about MDM, your network has to be set up to enforce the principle of ‘least privilege.’ Users should only be given the bare minimum access rather than blanket access, or privileges like upgrading or downloading software. It’s like giving an employee complete access to your facilities, including your server room vs. letting them into their work area.
3. Don’t leave employees in the dark about IT policies. Employees too often view IT policies as a hindrance to their productivity and an intrusion on their privacy. It is important to inform your organization about what is being mo nitored and why. With clear policies in place, your staff will be more understanding and receptive to IT procedures. For example, if you want to remotely wipe data from an employee-owned device, this needs to be clearly communicated to staff at the outset.
4. Take a load off IT – let employees self-register. Since many employees have more than one mobile device, business owners and IT managers can easily become overwhelmed with registering every time an employee buys a new tablet or phone. To help lighten the load, policies should allow employees to register their devices without the help of outside assistance. Not every MDM solution offers this option, so it’s worth asking this question before jumping onboard.
5. Keep mobile software up to date. Networks can become compromised when using outdated operating systems. When upgraded software becomes available, make sure your network is using the latest version. This will ensure that your employees are using the most up-to-date (and safe) software when accessing your corporate network. Your MDM solution should be able to prevent devices with outdated software from accessing and potentially compromising your company’s security.
6. Keep passwords fresh (and strong). The requirements for passwords are some of the most common policies today. Since mobile devices are easily lost or stolen, you should make it a requirement to have employees update their sign-on passwords several times per year. One of the easiest ways for the bad guys to compromise a system is simply by guessing the password. So if your password is ‘Password1,’ try a little harder.
7. Centralize management. E-mail, calendar, contacts, VPN, and Wi-Fi profiles are all common features on today’s smartphones and tablets. Administrators must be able to configure these profiles centrally and push them to users who are permitted to use them without having to touch every device. This helps employees become more productive, while ensuring your corporate information remains safe.
8. Protect against malicious apps. The list of ‘malicious applications’ available is ever growing and represents a potential threat to your corporate environment. Companies need to know what apps their employees are using on their work devices. With central visibility, apps that are less secure can be easily identified and flagged and then prevented from running, thereby reducing security risks to your company.
9. When all else fails: remote wipe. MDM isn’t really about devices – it’s about managing your data. So when employees misplace their devices or leave the organization, corporate data becomes at risk. It should be mandatory for companies to be able to remotely wipe corporate data from mobile devices. Typically this means removing email, calendar, contacts and other proprietary data that has been stored on the device.
10. Be flexible. MDM is a journey. Mobile data and security are very new to the workforce. It’s likely that as mobile devices continue to change so will their security measures. It’s important that you recognize this and be able to adapt to whatever changes occur.
Author: Stephen Perciballi is the practice lead for Security Solutions at Softchoice, one of North America’s largest technology solutions and services providers.