Securing mobile devices is just part of the task IT managers must now face given the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend. Even if devices are secure, the apps running on them might not be.
So in addition to mobile device management (MDM), businesses need to think about mobile application management (MAM).
“MAM is just as important as MDM, while both are needed to ensure efficient and comprehensive enterprise mobility management in bring your own device (BYOD) or corporate owned, personally enabled (COPE) environments,” noted mobile security expert Rob Patey in a recent blog post.
How to approach MAM largely depends on the size of the organization.
There are two common approaches: Setting up an enterprise app store, and establishing a list of approved apps for business use. A large firm will probably choose the former, while smaller companies will need to settle with the latter due to a lack of resources.
Really, enterprise app stores are the way to go if possible.
With an enterprise app store, companies can limit app use to those that are secure. Apps can be outlawed that are unknown or do not follow proper security practices. This will limit the exposure of corporate data to malicious software.
Developing an enterprise app store only makes sense if the company is large enough to benefit from the investment in time and resources. Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) has made it increasingly easy and affordable to roll out company app stores, but the return on investment will be greater if the company has a large number of employees.
However, one challenge with corporate app stores is lack of employee freedom; unless the store is well stocked, employees might feel unable to get the job done because the selection is so small. The natural solution to this is making sure that a company’s app store has both breadth and depth.
For smaller firms, a more informal approach might need to be taken, like a policy only allowing employees to download apps from vendors that the business has preapproved.
“By assigning qualified IT professionals to the task of culling through application vendors and choosing those that best maintain security and productivity, businesses can quickly increase the number of helpful software solutions being used by employees,” noted Patey.
But there is the risk that employees will go around such policies, and creating an approved list is a time-consuming task.
Whatever approach is taken, however, MAM should not be ignored. Corporate knowledge is one of the most important assets for most companies, and BYOD unchecked lets that data walk out the door and engage with services that might not keep the data safe.