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Securing Mobile Devices

Securing Mobile Devices

Mobile Devices can be Smartphones, OEM Tablets, standard Tablets and even Laptops depending on your definition. Some laptops now use the same ARM-chips which Smartphones use, resulting in them being treated as a Mobile Device by IT systems.

You may wonder why organisations need to secure a Smartphone, but the real question is whether it is connected to your business IT systems – even if only email.

In the event the answer is yes, then it is fair to reframe the above question: should you secure devices which connect to your business IT systems?

Most organisations would argue that yes, if it is being used for work then it should be secured otherwise it poses a risk to the business.

Consider for example that a staff member who access emails on their personal phone loses it, your business must report this to your Data Protection Officer or your business risks being in breach of Data Protection rules. Data Loss Prevention is only one of many considerations for businesses which handle data.

On occasion the shared-use of personal devices even translates into staff connecting to servers using personal computers through a VPN, especially in extremis such as during the Covid-19 pandemic. This is incredibly risky and may result in cyber-criminals being able to access your IT systems.

The NCSC have an excellent article which explores the risks of using personal devices for work and the investments needed for a business to do this safely, a key tool to facilitate this is Mobile Device Management.

Mobile Device Management

Many solutions such as Monitoring Software and Enterprise Anti-Virus can facilitate you enrolling Android and iOS devices onto it, enabling you to remotely manage them.

Mobile Device Management (MDM) software is slightly different from standard Monitoring Software and merits exploring because of the features an MDM offers.

MDM software is specialised for administering Mobile Devices and their ecosystems, this can for example mean that you can easily install and manage mobile applications through them.

MDM software also enables you to create multiple ‘policies’ or ‘profiles’ with which a device can align themselves to, allowing your business to enrol personal devices but remain light-touch in how you manage them. An MDM is typically significantly cheaper than purchasing a standard business antivirus and tacking-on modules to administer phones: it reduces risk and cost in one fell swoop.

We recommend using Miradore, partly because it is an Enterprise Open Source solution. This enables smaller organisations to use it at no cost (aside from initial investment in setup) and Medium and Large organisations can benefit from using a reliable Enterprise-grade MDM at a very competitive price.

Many businesses often paint a picture of them existing on a desolate technological landscape; forever unable to afford or administer key technologies such as automation, remote management and automated patching. Miradore effectively lets you do these for free, so no excuses!

MDM software is intuitive and efficient, enabling businesses to tackle 99% of security vulnerabilities through Patch Management and to better administer systems remotely, such as installing IT Security software on enrolled Mobile Devices.

IT Security and Mobile Devices

When it comes to Securing Mobile Devices there are three considerations:

  1. Oversight of Apps and/or Software Updates, sometimes the latest software update actually prevents apps from functioning
  2. Business antivirus, including remote lock, remote wipe and file scanning (an MDM may not offer this depending on what you choose)
  3. Multi-Factor Authentication, both from and for the device
Sadly running an IT Estate which is completely up-to-date can prevent your business from being able to function, this is often the case with Apple devices because vendors need to adjust software they publish for the latest update. Having control of updates is therefore invaluable: MDMs offer this.
Being able to balance availability and security is a core tenet of IT Security because no solution or software is totally risk-free. It follows that the ability to remotely lock, wipe and scan a Mobile Device used for business is incredibly valuable. It follows that having the capability is better than having none: a business antivirus enables you to remotely scan apps and files, wipe the device if needed and remotely lock it.
Finally, Multi-Factor Authentication (or Two-Factor Authentication) helps you identify if someone accessing your systems is really who they purport to be. When using a VPN you absolutely need to enable Two-Factor Authentication otherwise any cyber-criminal in the world with your username and password can log straight onto your IT systems. Being able to prove your identify is a bulwark against remote cyber-attacks.


Make IT Work For You

Every business needs to effectively manage costs and IT Security is no exception to this; being able to implement cost-effective and functional IT systems is what gives your business a competitive edge.

It can take some planning to identify your ideal setup but the ability to secure Mobile Devices especially for remote workers is a worthwhile investment. If you are only setting up an MDM then it can be one which is free at the point of use, adjusting for the time spent to set the MDM up.

Securing Mobile Devices is a multi-faceted exercise that requires considerations of what works and what doesn’t and it is totally fine to for example skip out on using a paid-for MDM, or a business antivirus and instead opting for a more limited free version. Doing something is often better than doing nothing at all.

Businesses which do nothing to secure their IT Estate will ultimately pay for it in other ways such as after a cyber-attack or a fine from regulators.

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