Mobile device management – keeping your critical data secure
We hold our entire lives in our hands every day. Mobile devices offer tremendous value to the legal sector; offering instant access to any information you may need, and allowing you to keep in contact with your colleagues and clients on the go.
In Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) workplaces especially, everything from your employee’s personal logins and social media to critical case and private client information is accessible anywhere to a connected device.
If this describes the set-up in your practice or chambers, it’s important to device policies to control access to information and the encryption of information, especially with the era of GDPR fast approaching.
MDM in and out of the workplace
Mobile Device Management (MDM) deploys software known as an “MDM agent” on colleagues’ device. This, along with an MDM server, governs how mobile devices can be used when connected to your firm’s IT systems.
Your IT administrator programs the behaviours of both the MDM software and MDM server to comply with your firm’s policies. From this point, you are in control of the exchange and encryption of data passing between your central server and individual mobile devices. You can also use your MDM server to install applications and patches directly onto connected devices.
Mobile Device Management software was first introduced to businesses in the early 2000s. It offered a way to secure and control PDAs and the then relatively new smartphones. The launch of the iPhone in 2007 inspired the Bring Your Own Device trend. Connecting non-company-owned terminals to company-owned services created an urgent demand for an effective, affordable, and customisable device management system.
Since then, MDM software has been extended to support a variety of tablets, Windows 10 computers, macOS computers, and other devices. Manufacturers and developers of mobile devices are able to control what MDM software can and cannot do through operating system updates.
As a result of this, MDM, like HTML, has become a manipulable platform allowing vendors to implement similar sets of core capabilities that are compatible across different devices.
Some of the most popular features of MDM software include:
- Device inventory and tracking,
- Policy and app distribution across all connected devices,
- App blacklisting,
- Remote data wipe,
- Password enforcement, and
- Data encryption.
The software allows employers to have control over what company information teams can access while on the go.
You can whitelist and blacklist certain apps to protect data from outside breaches. MDM gives a clear vision of all of the devices within your business, lowering the risk of data loss and providing an effective way to enforce policies for remote workers.
Sprout IT’s top tips for effective MDM
Your data is critical. Now more than ever, your firm will likely rely on mobile devices so that partners and colleagues can stay connected whether in court, the office, or with clients. Your staff need to be able to access their sensitive data securely from anywhere, without the risk of information falling into the wrong hands.
Implementing MDM into partners and colleagues’ connected mobile devices allows you to make certain that all critical business data is secure. Once you have deployed it, ensure you follow these simple steps for optimal security within your law firm.
- Set passwords and auto-lock on all devices
All smartphones will have password and passkey protection built in. Make sure this is enabled on all of your employees’ devices, and that all passcodes meet certain guidelines in length and complexity.
You should also enforce regular password changes as well as strict retry and timeout restrictions. All it takes is a few moments for someone to steal vital information from a device. Auto-lock on devices is an additional layer of security for company data that your firm cannot afford to live without.
- Disable auto-complete
Auto-complete can be a great time-saving feature on a personal device but, when devices can access systems holding sensitive information, it is a threat.
Disabling auto-complete on all of your devices may mean staff spend a little longer filling in their names and passwords manually, but it’ll stop any unauthorised people skipping through your login pages.
- Antivirus, signed apps and certificates
MDM technology screens each employee’s devices for suspicious apps before they’re allowed to access company email and shielded networks like Wi-Fi and VPN.
You should also install antivirus software on your smartphones and tablets to further protect your tech from cybercriminals.
- Take advantage of the cloud
Many firms prefer to keep all of their important data in the cloud rather than store them locally on each device. If a phone or tablet is stolen, company information would not be lost or compromised.
Cloud technology means you can access the files on a range of devices from anywhere. Make sure you back up the data regularly.
- Require full compliance with specifications
In a BYOD firm, there are many risks to company information. Setting minimum guidelines for all operating systems and platforms ensures the safe use of employee devices.
The Open Mobile Alliance Device Management Working Group have set out protocols for the management of mobile devices, service access and software on all connected devices. Refer to this when setting your policies, and make sure you restrict or revoke access to devices that fail to comply.
More so in the legal sector than arguably any other industry, the protection of sensitive information is a business continuity imperative.
Safe and effective Mobile Device Management is an effective solution for any law firm’s mobile workforce.