What is Mobile Device Management (MDM)?

Today’s organizations and public sector institutions need to protect a growing number of endpoints, including Chromebooks. Learn more about mobile security and why it’s important.

What is mobile device management (MDM)?

Mobile device management (MDM) is software that allows IT administrators to control, set, and configure policies covering mobile devices that connect to your business’ network. These devices include smartphones (Android and iPhone), tablets, laptops, and other portable endpoint devices.

It’s estimated the number of mobile devices will grow to 18.22 billion by 2025. Mobile devices are undoubtedly an integral part of today’s workforce culture and productivity. With a growing number of organizations adopting bring your own device (BYOD) models, mitigating your company’s risk of mobile device related cyberattacks has never been more important, but comes with incumbent challenges. From the type of device, operating system, application, and web browser, your IT team is tasked with implementing guidelines and support to a wide variety of end-user devices.

Mobile device management solutions help your IT department provision, deploy, and manage all your company mobile endpoints networkwide. MDM platforms support well-rounded mobile security efforts at the device level which uses device configurations, processes, and MDM policies to manage and monitor your business’ enrolled devices. MDM let’s your security IT team configure mobile devices making them less likely to be exploited by cyber criminals resulting from unintentional end-user mishaps.

How mobile device management works

Mobile device management works through an MDM software agent installed on the device and administered using MDM servers either hosted in the cloud or on-premise. Through centralized remote management, mobile device management software platforms identify all enrolled mobile devices companywide allowing IT administrators to apply security policies which control device access to company data, content, applications, and other organizational management, based on groups.

At scale, MDM solutions provide basic features such as the following:

Mass deployment of company mobile devices

Mobile device management tools facilitate ease of use and swift enrollment processes for company employee devices. Your IT administrators use MDM products to seamlessly deploy company guidelines across mobile devices in masses without disrupting workforce productivity. MDM allows your IT team to manage and configure policies to dedicated corporate-owned work devices, helping your business simplify the employee onboarding process. In BYOD models, MDM software let’s your IT department remotely enroll personal devices where MDM policies control access to data, email, and other stipulations based on fields such as the user’s role.

Flexible mobile device monitoring companywide

Mobile device management security allows your IT department to control MDM policy rules based on groups (or subnetworks). These subnetworks let your organization control network connectivity provisions depending on certain needs and functions of individuals. MDM security helps your business monitor and keep track of all connected mobile devices through providing hardware inventory, application management (whitelisting, and blacklisting), content management, and operating system specific configurations.

Remote administrative actions

In the event a mobile device is lost or stolen, MDM let’s your security team remotely wipe devices to help safeguard your company’s valuable data. The ability to remotely execute administrative actions on network connected devices is a key feature of MDM solutions including giving your IT admins the ability to remotely troubleshoot, device lockout, and manage apps.

Password policy enforcement

Passwords are commonly the first line of defense against cyber breaches on enterprise mobile devices. Through restricting unauthorized access, passwords ensure security and confidentiality of sensitive data that’s housed on work devices. MDM password policies enforce strong password and passcode practices from character length, casing, special characters, symbols, and more. MDM passcode policies can even be configured to remotely wipe a device after a numerous incorrect password attempts. Your IT team can wipe the device after failed password entries in an effort to stop unauthorized users from carrying out brute force attacks on locked devices.

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Why is mobile device management software important for businesses

So, why is MDM software important? Here are key factors for adopting MDM software solutions:

Enhanced productivity

Your IT administrators use MDM technologies to seamlessly implement company policies across many mobile devices without interfering with employee productivity. Getting your company-owned mobile device or personal BYOD smartphone or laptop readily equipped to meet company guidelines helps new employees and new devices get setup quickly. The sooner your company’s smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other devices are configured, the faster your business can see a return on investment (ROI).

Mitigates risk of breaches

Because of the large volumes of data kept and transferred on each device, employees’ mobile devices have become targets for viruseshackersmalware, and exploitation. Organizations acknowledge their responsibilities to secure and protect this data from loss while also allowing their workers access to basic resources. Mobile device management solutions help mitigate your organization’s risk of security and data breaches through device management monitoring, mobile management, and application management combined with comprehensive endpoint securitypatch managementdevice control, and other cybersecurity measures.

Enforces standardization of MDM processes and best practices

With minimal IT intervention, MDM ensures that all devices are compliant and up to date with your business’ rules, saving your IT team valuable time. Mobile device management tools provide automated reports on enrolled devices, helping your business inventory and manage all in one place. Through cloud-based MDM, companies gain daily updates and the ability to remotely search devices, integrations, reports, and apps effortlessly.

Is mobile device management comprehensive mobile security?

MDM software dictates the configuration and setup of mobile devices to help companies support mobile security best practices and productivity. Does mobile device management software ensure mobile security? In short, no. Here’s why:

Mobile device management policies

A mobile device manager gives businesses and public sector institutions the flexibility to implement MDM policies on a large scale. These policies help protect devices as a barrier against outside threats (e.g. brute force attacks), but what MDM platforms lack are antimalware capabilities. Mobile device management services are not designed to detect malware or monitor malicious activity. Although mobile device management software for iPhone, Android, and Chromebook are available, MDM is not end-all solution against cyberattacks.

Types of mobile device cyberattacks

Enterprise mobile device management cannot protect your company against typosquatting, zero-day exploits, and advanced malware intrusions. It is not anti-malware, it will not find and remove malware like a next-gen antivirus for mobile would. Mobile device management systems are not built to mitigate end-user centric related intrusions.

Cyber prevention

Today’s MDM providers aim to give businesses control to manage a wide range of mobile devices. However, MDM is not a holistic solution to mobile device security. Sophisticated attackers even use re-skinned MDM profile installation prompts to trick unsuspecting employees into downloading illegitimate apps. ThreatDown mobile device security provides continuous real-time protection against threats. Mobile security apps offer real-time prevention and protection against web-based threats, spam, and phishing.

With that said, mobile security is not equivalent to endpoint security platforms which identify suspicious behavior across any application regardless of source (browser, network based, email, etc.). Endpoint protection looks for anomalies that deviate from the known good standard (signature-based protection) and quarantines these threats. EP platforms, such as ThreatDown Endpoint Protection, also use a strong signatureless payload analysis and anomaly detection to proactively detect and block zero-day exploits.  Endpoint protection solutions are the pinnacle of preventative cybersecurity.

Want to learn more about how Malwarebytes Endpoint Protection prevents Zero-day intrusions? Read our Endpoint Security Datasheet.

BYOD MDM solutions

BYOD stands for “Bring Your Own Device,” a workforce model commonly adopted by today’s companies to increase productivity and ease of mobile device use for employees. Budget-friendly, BYOD eliminates the need for organizations to purchase their own company hardware.

So, how do organizations protect their company data on employee personal devices?

Unified endpoint management (UEM) is an evolved form of MDM and Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) which work to manage, control, and support secure IT environments, applications, and endpoints. UEM solutions are scalable and often fueled by machine learning and AI. They help to support secure data, content, and apps on personal devices, which also enforces keeping enterprise data safe.

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Mobile Device Management (MDM) FAQs

What is an examples of mobile device management?

MDM software use case examples, include IT administrators who set policies to control how frequent employees must update passwords, remotely wipe lost or stolen devices, restrictions on how company data is transmitted, monitoring abnormal device usage, and other rules for smartphones, Chromebooks, and tablets.

Why Mobile Device Management is important?

Productivity and flexibility are the most common reasons organizations adopt MDM solutions. MDM platforms give company IT teams and security professionals control over mobile devices company-wide through enforcing MDM policies. MDM supports your business’ mobile security strategy by ensuring employee devices are compliant with company regulations.