How Microsoft Intune Enhances Mobile Device Management
Business trends such as remote working and Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) call for enhanced mobile device management (MDM). Cloud-based platforms such as Microsoft Intune give companies the security and agility they need in the modern workplace because it enhances mobile device management.
Cloud technologies have transformed the way that most businesses work today. The pandemic may have accelerated the transformation, but software companies were nudging us in that direction anyway.
For a modern workplace to function effectively, businesses need software and hardware that facilitates communication, collaboration and productivity both inside and outside the office. But such sophisticated networks also require enhanced security measures.
With more employees using personal mobile devices to access your business network, there is a higher risk of a data breach. Moreover, threat actors are targeting work-from-home employees.
This puts IT support professionals in something of a quandary. Agility is vitally important to employees, and strategies like BYOD or Choose-Your-Own-Device (CYOD) are cost-effective solutions for smaller firms that don’t have extensive budgets to spend on IT equipment.
On the flip side, a distributed workforce could compromise your IT infrastructure. First of all, devices manufactured by different brands can cause conflicts that result in downtime. And then, of course, there is the risk of cybercriminals.
Downtime obviously eats into profits, and with the right tool can be avoided. Businesses that suffer a data breach may not be as lucky. 60% of companies that fall victim to cybercriminals file for bankruptcy within six months. GDPR compliance does not work in favour of SMEs.
MDM seeks to remedy the problems IT teams face. If your business deploys a distributed workforce and/or takes advantage of BYOD/COYD strategies, you need to enhance mobile device management.
What is Mobile Device Management?
Managing an entire fleet of devices puts a huge demand on IT teams to install the correct software, servers, policies, and processes. But with an effective MDM setup, your IT team can manage every device that is given authorised access to your network – and prevent unauthorised devices from gaining access!
MDM essentially enhances the usability of your business network whilst strengthening security. In simple terms, it allows your IT team to monitor, track, and secure mobile phones, laptops, tablets and desktop computers that your employees use to access your business network.
The provision is to help protect your sensitive data held in cloud-storage facilities or on-site servers. With the growing threat of bad actors, MDM adds a critical defensive layer to your security fortifications.
MDM also gives you more flexibility and control over who can access what. Today’s business networks can be configured in a way that curtails access to unauthorised users. Devices that do not have ‘permission’ to access files, documents or apps are locked out of the network.
This provision enables IT admin to identify, prevent and investigate whether unauthorised devices are trying to access your business network. MDM keeps out hackers.
IT admin can also have more control of which third-party apps can be installed on devices. This can be important given the number of apps in the Google Store and Apple’s AppStore are found to have malware. Millions of devices have been infected with rogue software that leading app stores have not picked up.
Thus MDM strategies are essential for maintaining the integrity of your business network and the devices your employees use to access work files.
Preventing the devices that your employees use from becoming infected with malicious malware can prevent hackers from covertly stealing data or spying on device activity – such as cracking passwords that would enable hackers to access sensitive data undetected.
What is Microsoft Intune?
Microsoft Intune is a powerful cloud-based software that provides IT professionals with the tools to effectively manage mobile devices and mobile applications.
The endpoint management solution gives IT admin the ability to effectively monitor and control devices that are accessing your business network. It allows you to identify authorised users, manage apps, and stop unauthorised users at critical entry points.
But the superpower that Microsoft Intune gives IT admin is the ability to control devices from remote locations. The security controls, features and settings built into cloud-based software gives IT professionals full control over the type of activity permitted throughout your entire IT infrastructure – including personal devices.
There can, of course, be sticking points with your employees that are using personal devices. Intune has the power to limit what individuals can and cannot do on a mobile device.
It’s one thing preventing your employees from accessing areas of your business network they do not have permission for, but it’s a harder conversation to have when you tell them they can’t download an unauthorised app.
This is where cybersecurity awareness training pays dividends. Protecting employee devices is not simply to protect your business from a data breach – which could put you out of business – but also for your employees to protect their personal finances from being stolen by threat actors as well.
Put this way, the limitations imposed by Microsoft Intune make this an easier conversation to have.
How to Add Devices to Microsoft Intune
To help IT administrators enrol devices to Intune, Microsoft has developed a device enrolment manager (DEM). A DEM account is tied to Azure Active Directory and givers users the ability to enrol and manage up to 1000 devices.
To enrol on a device, simply sign in to the Microsoft 365 portal as usual and follow the on-screen instructions. The device enrolment process is intuitive.
However, you do need knowledge of the cloud settings to update permissions and other various security settings. Our IT professionals in London can help with that if your in-house team does not have experience with M365.
Because Intune provides you with extra layers of security, it makes sense to take advantage of its entire point management capabilities. And because of its integration with Azure AD, you can create a hybrid environment by syncing on-premise servers with the cloud.
Endpoint Configuration Manager and Intune
To maximise the power of Intune’s Mobile Device Management software, co-manage your IT environment with the Configuration Manager in Microsoft Endpoint Manager. With Intune, you also get access to advanced security solutions such as Advanced Threat Protection (ATP).
Other benefits include centralised IT asset data management by importing data from various MDM software and consolidating databases from all types of devices including Android and Apple. It doesn’t matter which MDM tool you use to retrieve data, you can manage them all from a central location without compromising the performance of your network.
Furthermore, you can access all authorised devices in the network and view custody and vendor details to speed up ticketing and resolution processes.
What are the benefits of Microsoft Endpoint Manager?
To help to make MDM even easier in Intune, Microsoft has thrown in Endpoint Manager, a serverless solution with a focus on endpoint security. With Microsoft Endpoint Manager (MEM), remote workers can work from anywhere in a tightened environment.
Not only that but MEM is joined to your cloud environment through Microsoft Azure AD. All user profiles that are registered for Microsoft 365 can be synced with MEM so that any changes to their device are overwritten in MEM.
Remote workers don’t have to remember a second password to access on-premise servers from remote locations like they do if you’re using a VPN. The password they use to access M365 on your on-premise server is also recognised by MEM so grants access seamlessly.
With the threat of a compromised device eliminated, employees no longer need to rely on a VPN to encrypt communication between their devices and their business network. You can even, realistically, ditch the expensive on-premise server — if you like.
So what benefits do you get from Microsoft Endpoint Manager that will persuade you to move your sensitive data to the cloud and save a ton of cash associated with on-premise servers?
1. Endpoint Configuration Manager
The key benefit of Microsoft Endpoint security is that you have more control over who can access your most sensitive data by registering a device and authorising access permissions.
MEM includes a configuration manager precisely for this purpose. IT administrators can set conditions such as how often a device can communicate with your network, set up automatic software updates, and monitor the activity of mobile devices.
Once a device is registered in Intune, MEM polices it and enforces security policies, compliance rules and access restrictions in accordance with your configurations. Or to put it in words that sound less totalitarian, MEM ensures the devices on your network meet security and compliance requirements.
2. Autopilot Zero-Touch Deployment
Configuring endpoint devices can place heavy demands on IT departments — particularly in companies with hundreds, if not thousands, of employees. Not only that but the delays and disruptions associated with endpoint configuration can be frustrating for end users. Disruptions can also have a knock-on effect on employee targets and, ultimately, your bottom line.
Microsoft has attempted to negate some of the disruptions with its “Zero-Touch Deployment” solution. The objective is to pre-prepare configured devices so that it’s ready to use straight out of the box.
This solution, which has been tagged “Autopilot” works extremely well for new employees or employees you are purchasing a new device for. The device is pre-configured by the time it is received by your employee.
But it doesn’t work for existing employees with devices that are working perfectly well. If you were to take advantage of Microsoft’s Zero-Touch Deployment, it will cause several weeks of disruption. Great idea Microsoft!
3. Central Control Management
MEM makes it easy to manage in-cloud and on-site tools across your entire enterprise from a centralised location. For example, Intune enables you to create Wi-Fi settings directly to devices so that users can’t connect to Wi-Fi unsecured Wi-Fi networks that potentially make their devices vulnerable.
How Can IT Support Providers Enhance Mobile Device Management?
Once you’ve decided that mobile device management software is advantageous to securing your business network (it is!), there is the temptation to deploy the program in-house.
This may not be a bad thing. MDM is available on most modern devices so is accessible to anybody. However, problems can surface if you don’t have the experience or knowledge to take full advantage of the security features and productivity features.
Most companies are paying thousands of pounds for Microsoft licences without taking full advantage of the services and protection available to them.
That’s where IT support providers pay dividends. Taking on an MDM project is a significant undertaking for in-house IT departments – particularly if your IT professionals don’t have a great deal of experience with cloud software and cloud security tools.
The lack of experience can throw up a glut of problems both in the deployment of the system and the maintenance stage. A DIY job also means that your IT team is distracted from supporting your core mission and executing strategic initiatives.
Don’t lose sight of the fact that the purpose of mobile device management software is to ensure your organisation meets compliance, security, and productivity goals. Experienced IT professionals with existing knowledge and skills remove the burden from your in-house team and save a significant amount of time — not to mention money and frustration.
In short, business IT support providers eliminate the risk of migration errors, system failures, underutilisation of the software and other costly missteps that waste time, and money (and possible hair loss).
The seasoned IT support professional at Micro Pro London can also help to evaluate your existing set-up and provide you with valuable insights that enable you to implement a sound mobile device management strategy.
Our award-winning 24/7 IT support helpline also gives your entire workforce access to experienced IT professionals any time of the day and night. Even once the software is up and running, you still have to maintain the upkeep — which adds more strain on your IT department.
We also have a vast amount of experience planning and deploying MDM across multiple industries which gives us the ability to plan for the future. Although some industries may appear to be unrelated, a problem can have a knock-on effect which seeps into other seemingly unrelated industries. Our strategic experts can see the bigger picture and navigate potential issues as and when they arise.
If you feel as though your in-house IT team can benefit from the experience and expertise of our IT support professional in London, give us a call today and discuss your project with one of our IT strategy experts.