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Securing Your Enterprise Mobile Apps

More and more companies are realizing that their employees want to be mobile. There are a lot of advantages to mobilizing the workplace with an Enterprise App. We are often asked to create a mobile app that is used as a tool for employees using company-provided devices or employee-owned devices. Some of the apps that are popular include:

  • HR – employee communications
  • Marketing – presentations
  • Custom – custom apps, existing database or SharePoint integration, and apps for field automation and reporting.

So you know what sort of app you want to create, but how do you keep it secure?  How do you keep your data safe and secure from the public eye or even worse, your competitors?  There are a few ways that you can secure your mobile devices and restrict information to be accessible to employees only.

Option 1:  Enterprise Mobile Apps
Your answer may be in creating an enterprise mobile app. Essentially an enterprise mobile app is not publicly accessible in the App Store’s. This can keep your app within your organization on your own private App Store.  An enterprise application is only accessible to approved devices and limits misuse of information, or the app from being open to the public.  This is your first layer of security.

Option 2:  Secure Authentication
With this option you can still publish your app as an enterprise app internally or publicly to the App Store.  You can have a secure authentication against your cloud based database.  A user can enter their prescribed username and password or even use their Touch ID on iOS devices. Repeat logins can be required or you can have a “Remember Me” function if the information isn’t critical.  Administrators can invite, manage, and disable user accounts.

Option 3:  Mobile Device Management Systems
Your last option is a Mobile Device Management (MDM) software that works on both iOS and Android devices.  This software application is installed on the device and managed by device administrators online giving an extra since of security to employers.  If a device is lost or stolen employers can wipe the device entirely or disable specific apps.

Popular enterprise MDM companies include AirWatch and MobileIron. These two companies specialize in securing company provided devices and employee owned devices which is commonly referred to as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to work.  This is becoming more and more popular with organizations as they defer device cost and give users flexibility.

The feedback and issues that we have had with these services are:

  • Many employees don’t want their employer receiving usage data and location of their personal device. MDM’s web services differ.
  • Feedback we have gathered on AirWatch and MobileIron MDM’s is that the App Stores are cumbersome.
  • Users also say MDM’s slow down the device as its constantly communicating with web services in the background.
  • IT departments often have issues managing the MDM’s.

If your company is Apple iOS only then I would recommend Apple’s MDM solution. With Apple you can set up an enterprise app with MDM while giving a seamless user experience for end users using company owned devices or their BYOD’s.  Also the implementation, support, and documentation is very clear and publicly accessible.

Apple’s MDM can see:

  • Device name
  • Phone number
  • Serial number
  • Model name and number
  • Capacity and space available
  • iOS version number
  • Installed apps

Apple’s MDM cannot see:

  • Personal mail, calendars, and contacts
  • SMS or iMessages
  • Safari browser history
  • FaceTime or phone call logs
  • Personal reminders and notes
  • Frequency of all use
  • Device location

A good rule of thumb:

  • If your app’s content doesn’t have information that is public knowledge you can create an enterprise app and publish to your private App Store.  This works for 99% of the companies out there.
  • If you want something that secure and readily accessible to employees and outside users your app can be published publicly to the App Store with a secure user and password combo.
  • If you support both iOS and Android devices then AirWatch or MobileIron may be a good fit.
  • If your company is iOS only…. bq7s3h0. Take a serious look at Apple enterprise and MDM solutions.

SolutionBuilt specializes in enterprise mobile app development.  Do you need help outlining your use cases, requirements  and security needs? Contact us today and we will be glad to help you architect a solution that works for you.

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