Mobile device management (MDM) platforms come in many shapes and sizes. They help protect you from data leakage, but they often differ in how effective their services are delivered. Which one should you choose? A few days ago, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Alan Dabbiere, the chairman of AirWatch – a global leader in mobile device management and winner of the 2012 Cloud Computing Excellence Award. We discussed the importance of mobile device management to smaller businesses and why it’s important for them to adopt such solutions as quickly as possible.
Implementing mobile device management rids you of a host of problems when employees bring their own devices (known as the BYOD revolution) to their workplaces. There’s an issue, though. There are so many different versions of Android and iOS, and a flurry of other operating systems that devices use.
“When you think of a mobile device, it’s not a single instance of an operating system like it was in the PC world,” said Dabbiere. “You don’t just have Apple and Android. Android is splintered, so you’ve got the Samsung version, the Lenovo version, the HTC version, the 3LM version; and every one of these versions have two releases a year. Every one that comes out has security implications.”
He then goes on to explain an embarrassing situation one small-ish business faced because it lacked control over its mobile ecosystem: “There was an investment bank, relatively small, with about 400 employees. Somebody picked up a phone a week after iOS 5 was released, hit the Siri button, and wrote an email to trade 10,000 shares of stock in a customer account. That’s a really significant problem if you’re an investment bank!”
Here’s a shocker: The bank actually had MDM. When they went to their provider to complain, the provider immediately realized that it didn’t implement protection against this kind of issue and started working on implementing it for future mishaps. This primarily occurs in businesses that aren’t wise in their choices in mobile security.
“These are problems that don’t happen often, but when they do you’re in the front page of the news,” he adds.
How do you know that MDM is really going to take care of you? According to Dabbiere, there are over 80 different providers. This means that we have solutions sprawled everywhere, and no idea which one to choose. Of course, you can always read reviews. MDM customers sometimes write reviews about the providers they use. If one of the providers doesn’t quickly come up with a patch for managing that new operating system, you’ll know about it in reviews. Services that are slow to respond to changes in operating systems not only jeopardize your firm, but they also make you force your employees to wait to get that brand new shiny phone because of the security implications.
Don’t let your business kick the bucket just because of a measly little screen print or Siri mishap. In most cases, you just end up paying a few bucks for each device you add. Why not spare the cash and save you the tons of trouble you would get into if you don’t comply with regulations or something really embarrassing leaks into the public?