How to Build a Mobile Device Management System - Mobile Tuts

How to Build a Mobile Device Management System

Device Smartphones and tablets are no longer only suitable for home and personal use. Many companies have realized the benefits of allowing their employees to use personal mobile devices for work, contributing to the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend.

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However, this popular trend is closely associated with a range of data security concerns. After all, mobile devices can be compromised just like desktop computers and laptops. According to the Verizon Mobile Security Index 2019 report, for one in three organizations in the US that suffered a data breach in 2018, the main cause was a compromised mobile device. This is why organizations that implement a BYOD policy also need a secure and efficient mobile device management (MDM) solution.

MDM technology overview

Mobile device management, or MDM, is a set of technologies that ensure security and control over mobile devices in the workplace, such as smartphones, tablets, and various terminals, including point of sale (PoS) devices. The goal of any MDM system is to monitor the state of mobile devices connected to it, manage these devices, and keep them secure.

For enterprises, an MDM system creates an additional layer of security, providing capabilities for monitoring any user activity on managed mobile devices. Additionally, an MDM system can provide device-specific and platform-specific functions related to:

  • data encryption
  • access management
  • secure digital card encryption
  • geolocation monitoring
  • and more

Together, these functions form the MDM suite.

Most MDM solutions are based on a client–server model. In this model, all management commands are sent from the server to mobile devices, which then execute them. Both client and server components can be developed separately and function independently. However, when working on these components, you need to pay special attention to the flexibility of their interfaces and to their data exchange protocols.

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MDM, EMM, and UEM: What’s the difference?

MDM is often confused with enterprise mobility management (EMM). However, MDM is actually a part of EMM.

EMM refers to a set of people, tools, and processes aimed at organizing, managing, and improving enterprise mobility. The term EMM was first introduced by Gartner in 2014. Alongside MDM solutions, EMM systems usually include other products for mobile application management, application wrapping, mobile content management, containerization, etc.

Also, when composing EMM systems, developers often include cloud-based solutions so that data security and encryption isn’t necessarily implemented locally on mobile devices. An MDM solution, in turn, focuses on ensuring data security and protection locally, on every managed device.

MDM architecture on the client side

In our sample MDM system, an Android application has several key functions:

  • Executing server commands
  • Reporting on server command statuses
  • Protecting corporate data
  • Limiting device functionality (up to full locking)

It’s noteworthy that in an MDM architecture, security is the main priority. If it’s impossible to ensure absolute device and data security, we need to at least make sure that hacking one device doesn’t make it easier to hack others devices on the network.

Below, we overview the key elements to take into account when working on the client side of an MDM system:

  • Device policy controller
  • Device owner and its alternatives
  • Unprovisioned and provisioned states

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Implementing MDM in practice

As we mentioned earlier, an administrator should be able to block different device functions and prevent a device from being used for non-corporate purposes using a web-based interface. Furthermore, a device should regularly report its status to the mobile device management system. To accomplish this, we should use the LockTask API that’s available only for the device owner in Android 6.0 and higher.

Conclusion

Despite the continuous transformation of enterprise mobility technologies and approaches, MDM remains the core tool for ensuring proper protection and control over mobile devices. MDM solutions allow companies to enforce security policies and restrictions without compromising end user comfort.

When implementing enterprise mobile device management for Android, it’s important to make sure that:

  • an administrator can manage each device by identifying it with its phone number, IMEI, and IMSI
  • communication with devices can be implemented with SMS via the SMS gateway API of a corresponding communications provider
  • the connection between devices and the server is established properly in order to update information about the status of each device

At Apriorit, we have a team of passionate Android and iOS developers who can build a brand-new MDM solution from scratch or enhance the capabilities of an existing system by introducing new features and functionalities. Take the first step toward ensuring proper protection of your corporate data — get in touch with us and we’ll start working on your perfect MDM software.

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