Mobile devices - a management challenge in today's workplace

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In today’s workplace, IT departments support different devices configured in different ways. Your org might have Android and iOS mobile phones, Windows 10 and macOS PCs, and custom devices your users bring to work. Not only do you have to support all of these devices, you have to be sure they meet organizational standards for security and device health. You also have to be able to configure them to support organizational apps and features, like VPNs, email settings, and updates.

These different devices present the following management challenges:

Mobile devices that connect to unsecured networks. Mobile devices frequently connect to networks outside your organization. Company laptops often connect to Wi-Fi access points in public places, like airports and cafés. Using Wi-Fi access points, hackers can capture network traffic and try to insert malware into your browsing sessions. This can impact everyone in your organization.

Mobile devices that intermittently connect to organizational networks. Mobile devices can be difficult to manage using tools such as Group Policy, which assumes devices are always connected to the organizational network.

Backing up data. When a device is connected to your organizational network, users are more likely to use documents in central locations, such as file shares and SharePoint sites. These locations are typically backed up. Mobile devices, including laptops, may not regularly connect and use content from central locations. Instead, the data is likely stored only on the device. If something happens to that device - like getting lost, stolen, or suffering a hardware failure - you might also lose your data, which can lead to lost productivity and worse, if that data was protected IP.

Lost or stolen devices. The average cost of replacing a stolen device can exceed the cost of the device. This cost is higher because your organization must configure the new device and determine what data was lost or stolen. In some cases, that data exists only on the mobile device, and is then lost to the organization.

Compromised devices that connect to the internal network. A mobile device infected with malware can leak data and introduce the malware into the organization. Organizations must treat mobile devices as possible malware carriers and take precautions to prevent leaks and attacks.

User-owned mobile devices. Personal devices are a challenge to organizations. IT departments need to find a balance between allowing access to applications and data with users wanting to use their own devices. When considering a mobile device support policy, ask the following questions:

  • Is the device owned by the user or the organization?
  • Should you let user-owned devices access sensitive applications and data? Or, only allow access if the owner agrees to have the device managed by IT?
  • What actions can your organization take to protect data stored on the device if the device is lost, or if the user leaves the company?