Here’s a riddle: How does your mobile strategy turn from a gleaming skyscraper touching new heights of business productivity into a towering inferno? The answer: a poor mobile security foundation.

As the average mobile device gets more minuscule in the form of wearables and whatever technology comes next, many organizations need to go back to the basics of mobile security. That is one of the lessons Tyler Shields of Forrester Research recently shared with IBM in a mobile security video series.

Enterprise Mobility Management Needs to Start Somewhere

In an ideal world, a nefarious individual could steal a corporate tablet or smartphone and walk away without an ounce of sensitive data. However, we don’t live in that world. As Shields stated, “Mobile devices are interconnected; they connect back to corporate environments, they have data — important and sensitive data — saved on the device.”

While the mobile conversation should shift toward enterprise mobility management, which protects mobile data, apps, content and network file share access, this might be too much mobile mayhem for lean IT departments to manage out of the gate.

Mobile device management (MDM) is still the foundation that keeps those next steps aloft and stable. Or, it could be, since the right MDM system can easily scale mobile data, apps and content management in the same control panel.

Older Mobile Security Foundations Faltering

Some previously ironclad mobile device security solutions are starting to rust from a lack of updates or cumbersome installations. Those options are merely kept operating inside companies for fear of the dreaded migration downtime.

It’s a valid fear for IT and chief information security officers (CISOs), since their customers are looking at their mobile devices more than 200 times a day. Imagine a whole workforce paralyzed each time Apple, Google or Microsoft made an OS update. You don’t need to imagine it — with older MDM solutions, downtime is a deliverable versus an anomaly.

Real Mobile Device Management for Real Device Security

In the event of the inevitable mobile security ticket exclaiming, “Help, I lost my phone!” the following is what organization’s should seek for security surety:

One Window to Manage Every Mobile OS

It seems simple, but this is a big miss for many organizations. Even if you only prescribe to one OS for corporate-issued devices, bring-your-own-device happens regardless of whether the company sanctions it.

Mobile security, like all IT security, should bask in standardization. Cross-platform MDM ensures a CISO’s desire for eight-character alphanumeric password compliance is the same for iPhones and Androids alike.

Remote Locate, Lock, Block and Wipe

Just as you don’t need a flamethrower to kill a housefly, overly draconian responses to lost devices could obliterate the workforce’s fervor for mobile freedom. More often than not, mobile devices simply get lost. Wiping all the data of a device stuck between the couch cushions is simply unnecessary.

With MDM, an employee can use self-service options on the Web to first see whether the device is truly gone. In a scenario in which a stranger may have accidentally grabbed the wrong phone, a simple lock and block will keep corporate secrets safe until an amiable exchange can be made. In the worst-case scenarios, in which the device and company data are at risk, the device can be wiped in a few seconds once the command is delivered.

Device Security Extras

If your organization needs a higher standard of secrecy or specialization, MDM options truly abound. Geofencing can shut off features from cameras to texts for areas of research and development secrecy. In retail and other shared device environments, kiosk mode can keep devices dedicated to a business-only app such as point-of-sale tools or catalogs.

Before you balk and say MDM or any device security isn’t for your organization, it is important to remember that emails are corporate data, work files are often stored in Dropbox and the odds against losing a piece of work hardware grow exponentially as the technology shrinks in size.

Watch the mobile security video series with Tyler Shields of Forrester Research

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