The Rise of Mobile Device Management (MDM)

The now (in)famous Pegasus is a Fully UnDetectable (FUD) threat, spreading through "zero-clicks", i.e. no engagement or action from the phone owner. Some days ago I wrote about Pegasus – why it is a problem, and simple steps to protect ourselves.

Just a few days ago Apple iOS 14.8 was released with the primary objective of fixing a Pegasus bug.

For organizations, it is important to have a platform that can administer mobile devices, e.g. phones, tablets and laptops. That is where MDM (Mobile Device Management) comes into the picture.

There are so many such platforms out there, so here are some of the things organizations should think about when they try to adopt/implement these solutions.

(1) Strong device tracking, time/location fencing (geofencing) capabilities. The most crucial aspect is knowing where devices are. Geofencing allows you to secure your perimeter and keep track of all devices entering or exiting premises. Time fencing allows applications to be used during certain hours, e.g. CRM during office and social media in non-office hours only.

(2) Role based access control (RBAC). Next, you need to ensure only the right person can access data. MDM solutions now have role based access control features – so that the breadth and depth of access can be controlled, depending on if a person is a business user or an IT person.

(3) BYOD management using portioning/containerization. Bring Your Own Device is both a trend and a nightmare. We are now more than ever using personal phones for official work. MDM software can help establish a "partition," or a “logical container”, to completely segregate work and personal use. Security needs to be balanced with privacy of the device user, and the user needs to be made aware of what comes under organizational control, and what is personal.

(4) Security and remote wiping. A good MDM software should be able to remotely protect a mobile device and the corporate data it contains. Data encryption, security configuration, access monitoring and remote wiping (if compromise occurs and you want to erase data) are some of the security features to look for in an MDM platform. More points for MDM solutions that have multi-factor and biometric authentication.

(5) Reporting. This will become even more important in the future. Administrators can track and report on the state of mobile phones, including usage, health, security upgrades, non-compliance, and more. MDM software that combines AI and machine learning to detect suspicious or unlawful activity in real time gets full scores.

A single platform to protect thousands of mobile devices sounds like a dream come true. But choosing the right platform and deploying it properly, is equally important, if we are to counter known and unknown Fully UnDetectable (FUD) threats!

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