As part of Solutions Review’s Premium Content Series, a collection of columns written by industry experts in maturing software categories, Apu Pavithran of Hexnode emphasizes the importance of including Android device management as part of your endpoint security strategy in the age of BYOD.
Android is known as “the platform that changes what businesses can do”, and I wouldn’t say that statement is far from the truth. Accounting for 70% of smartphone usage, the modified version of Linux now has around 2.5 billion active users. Today, the open-source platform that offers developers the flexibility to customize the user interface remains dominant in the market due to its cost and affordability.
While we weigh all these advantages on one side of the scale, it is difficult to overlook the security flaws encountered by the operating system. With each Android patch release, the company also acknowledges the severity of the vulnerability. As a result, companies began to seek refuge in solutions that would help them strengthen security beyond that offered by the vendor. I intend to focus on one such solution currently in the spotlight – Android device management.
Management is not limited to Android Enterprise
Considering the global market share of Android, it stands to reason that Android devices are also deployed in organizations and businesses. In addition to being used for professional use cases, they have also joined the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) movement. Android has worked to strengthen its presence in enterprises by recommending devices that comply with enterprise-specific standards. Additionally, the growing importance of Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) solutions has prompted the tech giant to come up with an initiative that would help UEM vendors manage Android devices and apps.
Much to the relief of businesses, Google’s endpoint management initiative, Google Workspace, offers core endpoint and application management capabilities. In addition to providing basic password enforcement functionality, administrators can approve or block a device, manage apps, and wipe devices as needed. However, this would not be sufficient for the security requirements that are currently needed. This is where a dedicated UEM solution comes into play.
A user can take advantage of the features offered by a UEM by initially enrolling the device in the UEM portal. As many enterprises prioritize remote working during and after the pandemic, EMUs are helping administrators enroll their device fleet remotely through Zero Touch Enrollment and Samsung Knox Enrollment. While a company that has subscribed to Google’s advanced mobile device management program may benefit from the same, questions about how to manage devices on a more granular level remain unanswered. Similar to remote device enrollment, the ability to monitor and manage them remotely is what defines a robust UEM solution. As the pandemic dispersed employees to various locations, with an EMU in hand, administrators could remotely troubleshoot errors without needing to access the physical device.
Along with the hybrid work culture, BYOD is another trend that has been gaining attention. While the theory has come under scrutiny for decades due to security and privacy concerns, the pandemic has left businesses with no choice. However, much to the relief of many CISOs, UEMs are leveraging Google’s Android Enterprise program to help IT admins containerize corporate data from personal files. This visible demarcation between work and play and the reduced risk of corporate data leakage in the personal space proves to be a win-win solution for employees and companies.
See the big picture
The large image looks like:
- Password management: The main defense mechanism for securing your device starts with a complex password. UEM solutions help IT administrators configure password settings for length, age, history, and characters. Additionally, organizations can flag devices as non-compliant if they violate the password policy.
- Application management: The applications made available to your employee will define their productivity. The app management feature of a UEM helps IT configure required apps while restricting which websites an employee can access. From Play Store apps to managed Google apps to in-house apps, app inventory can be customized to suit business needs. When the occasion calls for it, devices can be locked to specific apps converting the device into a kiosk.
- Android Restrictions: Restricting device functionality ensures users have access to the resources they need to do their jobs while preventing third-party apps from accessing corporate data. Human error accounts for 95% of cyberattacks. It can be by connecting to free network, transferring data through O.MG cable or clicking on malicious website. By configuring connectivity and network restrictions, the likelihood of falling victim to such risks can be reduced.
- Security management: Take the example of the 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack and the 2022 Apple vulnerability attack. not updated their devices with the released patches. IT administrators could avoid such a scenario by pushing updates remotely across the entire fleet of devices without waiting for user intervention.
Android device management is a huge business and the possibilities are endless. Since Android Enterprise was founded in 2018, the company has been delivering a lot on the board. While Android still has a long way to go in terms of security, its best bet would continue to be on security solutions like UEM that will help companies strengthen their strategic positioning. There is no doubt about the security offered by an EMU. However, as this remains the first step in setting up your secure cyberinfrastructure, new threats require new collaborations. As a result, UEMs have converged on IAM (Identity and Access Management), ITSM (IT Service Management), ZTNA (Zero Trust Network Access) and XDR (Extended Detection and Response) solutions. Among countless cyber techniques, it all comes down to finding the right solution for your organization. After all, in a war, it’s all about choosing the right weapon.