An MDM at work is great for BYOD and your privacy

Our two-part series on BYOD (part 1 and part 2) was aimed at employers thinking about BYOD and Mobile Device Management (MDM) software, but this post is for you—the employee. In this post we’re going to look at BYOD and MDMs from your perspective. If you’re like the majority of people, you’re already using your personal device at work. You’ve probably been bringing your own device for years and thought nothing of it. Now your company wants you to install an MDM on your phone so they can formally allow BYOD. It sounds intrusive, but putting an MDM on your phone might be one of the best things you can do for you, your privacy, and the company you work for. Installing an MDM on your phone isn’t just a good idea, it’s a great idea, and here’s how it all plays out.

How MDMs work

You probably haven’t heard of Mobile Device Management (MDM) software before, so here’s how it works at a high level. An MDM is made up of two main parts: software on your phone to secure work data and software on a server to manage everything. These parts work together to create a secure environment on your phone for work data. MDM apps are designed to be as secure as possible to do two things: keep work data protected and keep your personal data from mixing with work data.

When you enroll your phone into your company’s MDM, first you download an app that connects to your company’s MDM server, sets up the secure environment on your phone, and downloads other apps (like secure email, chat, and file sharing). When you launch the MDM app the first time, you’ll go through a process of creating passwords and setting up all the applications. It usually takes just a few minutes to complete and doesn’t require any complicated steps. Depending on what MDM provider your company chose, you’ll have the email, chat, and file sharing apps downloaded for you. Once you finish the process you’ll be all set and your work data is secure.

That’s it. Now you’re ready to work and collaborate like you’ve been doing all along, just with encryption and security profiles protecting you.

The server side of the MDM isn’t something you’re going to need to worry about—that’s for the people who administer the MDM for the company. The MDM server lets the company know who has set their devices up and if the devices are secure. If there is a problem with a device, like malware was installed or it was lost or stolen, the company can remotely protect the company data on the device. Most MDM software lets a company remotely erase and reset the work portion of the device. It’s this layer of security for work information that makes companies comfortable about BYOD in the first place.

MDMs make BYOD better and safer

BYOD increases productivity and employee satisfaction, but what makes BYOD really work for companies is the added measure of security and control over company data. Without the peace of mind knowing that personal devices are secure and company information is protected, a lot of companies are hesitant about BYOD. Security concerns are top of the list for why companies shy away from BYOD and why companies invest in an MDM. When you, as the employee, get fully onboard with using an MDM, you’re cementing BYOD at your company.

MDMs make it easier to keep work and life separate

When you use your personal device for work, especially email, there are so many ways for you to accidentally mix personal and work information. Who hasn’t accidentally emailed someone at work from your personal email and then had to remind people to stop using your personal email? Or—thanks to autocomplete of email addresses—accidentally emailing a colleague or customer a personal email that was meant to go to one of your friends? When you have a completely separate and secure app for work emails, it’s much harder to make those mistakes. If that isn’t enough, an MDM protects your privacy by putting a barrier between work and personal information. Family photos can’t be accidentally shared or emailed at work.

Just because work has installed MDM software on your phone does not mean they have access to your personal apps or profiles (Like Facebook or your photos or music or books). The goal of the MDM is to make, and keep, a separation between work and personal data. Your company can reset and erase the work data from your phone—say if you forgot your password, your phone was stolen, or you leave the company—but that’s as far as it goes. With an MDM, the “your” part of BYOD is stronger than it was before an MDM was installed.

Security by design

While MDMs and BYOD make people more productive and help people collaborate with ease, it’s security that wins the day for MDMs. Everything about an MDM is based on the foundation of strong encryption and security. You don’t have to worry if company data is protected—it is. You don’t have to worry if you’re protecting private customer information—you are. Computer security, especially protecting company and customer information—is on the top of everyone’s mind. Barely a week goes by without news of yet another data breach, company hacked for their intellectual property, or malware outbreak. An MDM can’t prevent all security issues, but it can prevent many of them. A solid, reliable, and secure MDM is the foundation for BYOD at your office. So when the company says, “Hey, we’re getting an MDM for all our devices.” you can answer, “That’s great, I’m looking forward to the extra measure of security for our data.” and mean it.


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Tris Hussey

Tris Hussey

Tris Hussey is a best-selling author and the Senior Marketing Manager at SKY GLOBAL. He is a 20-year tech veteran and has been into security, privacy, and encryption since he first saw Crimson Tide and first installed PGP.

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