MDM (mobile device management) is a set of solutions and technologies for the centralized management of smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other mobile devices used for work purposes. MDM is applied to both corporate mobile devices and the personal devices of company employees with access to corporate data.
The need for MDM arose as a result of the ever-growing use of mobile devices for work-related tasks. The first MDM solutions appeared back in the early 2000s. The prevalence of BlackBerry and iPhone smartphones subsequently gave rise to the trend of companies implementing bring your own device (BYOD) policies, under which employees are allowed to use personal devices at work. That made having centralized MDMs even more important, in turn accelerating the development of MDM technologies.
An MDM solution typically consists of a server part and a client part. The client part is installed directly on the device and interacts with the server side over a secure channel.
Using an MDM solution, an administrator can do the following:
- Install, update, and delete applications and certificates on remote mobile devices;
- Restrict the use of third-party applications on devices;
- Track device location;
- Remotely configure devices in accordance with the company’s security policies;
- Prohibit certain actions on devices, such as uploading documents to cloud storage;
- Encrypt data on devices;
- Remotely block devices;
- Delete confidential data if a device is lost.
Centralized MDM allows companies to:
- Equally and reliably protect all endpoints in a company, as well as use mobile devices to perform threat hunting;
- Provide employees with secure access to corporate services and resources from anywhere;
- Control the use of corporate data and manage access to insecure services and resources;
- Remotely update devices OTA, and provide technical support to employees.
Most MDM solutions cater to the management of devices from different manufacturers, but some MDM systems focus on a limited set of devices. For example, Apple’s Configurator is suitable only for controlling smartphones running iOS, tablets with iPadOS, and smart TVs with tvOS.