As more people are working from home or in flexible office arrangements, there’s been a big increase in the number of devices like laptops, tablets, and phones being used to access work-related materials. If these devices aren’t properly managed, they can pose a serious security risk because they might not have the necessary protections in place. Tools like Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) have become useful ways to manage and secure these devices. This article will look at these security risks and how to handle them, with a particular focus on Microsoft Intune, a top tool for managing devices that’s based in the cloud.
The Security Risk of Unmanaged Devices
Unmanaged devices are not regulated under the standard security protocols of an organization, leading to potential security vulnerabilities. These devices may range from personal computers and tablets used in remote or hybrid work settings to mobile phones and wearable technology. They may lack necessary security updates or harbor insecure applications, providing potential backdoors for malicious activities.
MDM and UEM solutions provide a robust framework to secure all devices accessing business data, regardless of whether they are owned by the company or the individual employee. By leveraging these solutions, organizations can enforce security policies, regulate application usage, execute remote software updates, and, if required, erase data from lost or stolen devices.
Utilizing Microsoft Intune for Device Management
Microsoft Intune, a cloud-based endpoint management solution, has been instrumental in managing user access while simplifying application and device management across numerous device types, from mobiles to desktop computers and virtual endpoints. This solution allows for the protection of data and access on both organization-owned and personal devices.
One notable advantage of Microsoft Intune is its compatibility with a diverse range of operating systems, including Android, Android Open Source Project (AOSP), iOS/iPadOS, macOS, and Windows client devices. This cross-platform compatibility ensures that diverse device ecosystems within an organization can be managed and secured effectively.
App Management and Policy Deployment in Intune
Microsoft Intune streamlines app management through its built-in app experience, which encompasses app deployment, updates, and removal. It also allows for the connection and distribution of apps from private app stores, enables Microsoft 365 apps, and manages access to apps and their data.
Intune’s automated policy deployment for apps, security, device configuration, compliance, and conditional access reduces the administrative workload and ensures that all devices comply with the organization’s policies.
Another critical aspect of Intune is its integration with mobile threat defense services, including Microsoft Defender for Endpoint and third-party partner services. These integrations enhance endpoint security, enabling the creation of policies that respond to threats, conduct real-time risk analysis, and automate remediation processes.
In addition to robust app management and threat defense features, Microsoft Intune also provides an interactive interface for end-users, in the form of the Company Portal app. This self-service app offers several features that empower users while minimizing the need for constant IT intervention.
Users can utilize this platform to reset a PIN/password, install organization-approved apps, join groups, and more, all under the organization’s security guidelines. The Company Portal app can be customized according to an organization’s needs, which can lead to significant reductions in support calls and an overall increase in productivity.
The Significance of the Web-Based Admin Center
Microsoft Intune’s web-based admin center is another notable feature that enhances endpoint management. This center focuses on data-driven reporting and can be accessed from any device with internet connectivity, offering flexibility and ease of use for administrators.
The admin center employs Microsoft Graph REST APIs to programmatically access the Intune service, meaning that every action within the admin center corresponds to a Microsoft Graph call. This level of integration allows administrators to have precise control and offers the possibility for automation of specific tasks.
Intune Integration: The Bigger Picture
A key strength of Microsoft Intune is its ability to integrate with other Microsoft services and apps, as well as third-party partner devices and apps. These integrations provide a unified and seamless experience across multiple platforms, enhancing the overall effectiveness of the endpoint management strategy.
This level of interoperability also enables organizations to create a cohesive ecosystem of applications and services, improving productivity and collaboration within the organization while maintaining a high level of security.
Final Thoughts: Addressing Security in a Remote Work Era
The modern shift towards remote and hybrid work models has brought unmanaged devices into the limelight as a significant security concern. As this trend continues, the importance of effective mobile and endpoint device management grows concurrently.
MDM and UEM solutions, such as Microsoft Intune, offer comprehensive capabilities for managing a variety of devices across numerous platforms. These solutions ensure that businesses can maintain a secure and controlled digital environment, mitigating the risks posed by unmanaged devices. By providing robust app management, automated policy deployment, and integrated threat defense services, these solutions embody a pivotal component of any organization’s security strategy in today’s digital age.