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What is MDM (Mobile Device Management), and why should I care?

Since the smartphone boom took over, employees started to carry their own smartphones and personal digital assistants to their workplace. It’s a win-win for both employees and employers. While employees get increased flexibility and comfortability in the use of their own devices with which they are more familiar, employers find an increase in productivity and lower equipment costs.

With this rapid invasion of smart devices in workplaces, new threats like the breach of security, privacy, and more have emerged. This led to the introduction of Mobile Device Management (MDM), which helps corporations in exercising better control over the proprietary/sensitive data and protect them from unauthorised access. This helps them to optimize the functionality and security of every device, both employee-owned device and the company-owned devices that operate every day in an organization. With this, the administrator can inspect, add profiles, remove profiles or erase data on devices.

What’s so bad about MDM, anyway?

In certain ways, this invades the privacy of employees. With Mobile Device Management, the administrator is able to monitor every activity in the browser of the user from personal emails, pictures, text messages to highly confidential data including bank PINs and passwords. The administrator is able to monitor their activity over other third-party applications installed in their smartphones and can forcefully stop the user from accessing certain applications. Their ability to track lost or stolen devices can cross boundaries beyond their purpose of design when they are able to track the exact location of their employees.

Apple & MDM

Apple introduced MDM in iOS 4, and it offered enterprises an ability to gain control over registered iOS devices. Later with constant updates in the future versions, the MDM platform from Apple and other third-party application providers become an inevitable tool for enterprises.

Parental Control Apps with MDM Technology

For a lot of parental control features like remote locking, blocking apps and more to exist in Apple’s iOS, app makers use MDM to make this possible, and have been using it for years. This was obviously not the reason MDM was created and designed for, but parental control apps have used it as a way to introduce many features.

But recently, these applications like OurPact were pulled from the App Store because of their use of MDM. For the improper use of MDM, they were found to invade the privacy of users and garner sensitive personal data like location, emails, camera, etc. of their mobiles. This might have been seen as leaving users of apps like this, namely children, vulnerable victims to cyberbullying and other threats to the personal safety of children.  

A possible workaround for parents would be to use apps that don’t make use of MDM technology, like plano. What plano’s iOS feature set aims to do instead is geared towards cultivating healthy device habits, that in the long run, would prove much more beneficial that outrightly controlling the use of smart devices in children.

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