Mobile Device Management Best Practices

It seems like every day there are more and more devices, especially mobile devices, being used for business. Between desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones, maintaining security can feel overwhelming. While it might seem nice to ban all personal devices from the workplace, it’s important that businesses embrace today’s reality and instead work to make the best of the current landscape. That’s why it’s critical managed services providers (MSPs) keep up-to-date on the best practices for securing mobile devices.

As more devices gain access to your sensitive data, the risk of a data breach increases as well. Luckily, there’s an easy solution for MSPs managing all these devices: mobile device management (MDM). With MDM, not only can you keep track of all the devices on your customers’ networks, you can also monitor and control access to the sensitive data on those devices. Read on to learn the best practices for MDM and how to select the right tool for you.

What is mobile device management?

Mobile device management is the process by which you can protect the sensitive data on mobile devices being used for business. MDM allows employers to oversee and secure employees’ personal devices when accessing their corporate network, regardless of their location.

MDM involves both policies and requirements for employees, as well as the use of a third-party tool that allows you to monitor, manage, and secure the devices used by your employees—or, in the case of MSPs, your customers’ employees. When implemented properly, MDM will reduce the risk of a data breach to protect sensitive data in an era of BYOD offices and remote work.

Why is mobile device management important?

Mobile device management is key to keeping your business and your customers’ businesses safe. Without it, your sensitive data is left vulnerable to hackers on personal devices, and you run the risk of a potentially devastating data breach.

Today’s reality is that personal mobile devices have become a constant in the modern workforce. While people are often quick to think of the risks associated with this increase in devices, there are actually great advantages as well. Personal devices like tablets and smartphones offer employees increased mobility, constant connectivity, and the potential for increased productivity.

In order to maximize the benefits associated with mobile devices without opening yourself up to all of the associated risks, you need to practice good mobile device management. MDM lets you see and control who has access to your sensitive data, allowing you to remove or limit access as needed. It also lets you remotely wipe sensitive information in case a device is lost or stolen.

Choosing the right MDM tool

There are a lot of things for an MSP to consider when picking the right MDM tool to protect their customers. While there are numerous tools on the market, not all of them can provide the breadth of coverage and quality of support that is necessary for good MDM. Here are some MDM best practices for MSPs to keep in mind when choosing software:

  • Know your needs. Make sure you know what types of devices are on your network to ensure you get a tool that will support the different manufacturers and operating systems your customers use. Ideally, you should pick a tool that can support multiple platforms, which will prepare you for the future as your customers’ companies grow and new devices enter the network.
  • Check the support services. While setting up your MDM tool should be straightforward and intuitive, that doesn’t mean that you won’t encounter problems with your MDM security features further down the line. When choosing the right tool for your MSP, you should make sure the product comes with support for any pain points in the MDM process. The product you choose should have a strong partner network and should provide support both before and after installation to maximize the security capabilities of your MDM product for your customers.
  • Find out about integration capabilities. Mobile device manufacturers provide their own security solutions with their products. While these solutions are not robust enough on their own, these solutions can help save you time, money, and stress when it comes to mobile device management. Where possible, it’s best to get a tool that can integrate with the existing solutions on your customers’ devices.
  • Make sure there are unlimited customizable policies. A key part of monitoring and controlling access to mobile devices on your customers’ networks is implementing policies. It’s important that the tool you choose supports unlimited customizable policies so you can meet various requirements for individual devices, groups, or time frames. Ideally, the tool should also allow you to build upon previous iterations of MDM policies so you don’t have to start from scratch when you move to a new tool.
  • Ask what security capabilities you need and what is available. When picking an MDM tool for your MSP, it’s important to be realistic about what security policies you actually need to implement. Ask yourself: would I employ this on a desktop? If the answer is no, then you probably don’t need to apply that specific security measure to your mobile devices.

On the other hand, there are certain security measures that your customers will most likely want, and you’ll need to ensure the tool you choose offers those capabilities to provide the best possible protection. Common desired capabilities include mobile data encryption, anti-malware installation requirements, and the ability to locate, lock, and wipe a device that is lost or stolen to protect sensitive information.

Given that many employees worry about how such policies could result in their personal information being stolen, it is also best to choose a tool that allows for the creation of separate environments or a partition between personal data and corporate data. This will ensure that in the event of a device being stolen or lost only the corporate data will be wiped and the personal data can remain.

  • Check for single screen viewing. With MDM, you are keeping tabs on a large number of endpoints and end users, many of which will have different policies dictating their levels of access. In order to be able to monitor them effectively, you need an MDM tool that will let you easily see all of them from a single, intuitive screen.
  • Get a free trial. Not every product comes with a free trial, and of those that do, many provide only a “lite” or limited version of the product for free. This won’t give you a good sense of whether or not the product can meet your needs. Instead, pick a tool that offers you a full version of the product as a trial so you can test out the process of enrolling devices and implementing policies before you commit.

Implementing MDM policies and requirements

In addition to choosing the right tool, there are some key best practices to keep in mind for good mobile device management. These include:

  • Educating your employees. For maximum network security, make sure your customers and their employees understand the policies that are implemented on their mobile devices. Staff security awareness training is recommended to teach customers and their employees how to protect corporate data in areas where the human element is a major factor. This includes educating them about the dangers of phishing, downloading unauthorized apps, and using public Wi-Fi to access sensitive information—all of which puts data at risk of being stolen.
  • Setting security requirements. Require that all mobile devices used for work have anti-malware software installed. Corporate data on those mobile devices—especially communications, which can easily be intercepted—should always be encrypted. MSPs should also require strong passwords or passphrases, as well as biometrics where possible.

Interested in learning more about mobile device management? Explore our product suite to see how you can properly manage your mobile device network.