By Apu Pavithran, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Hexnode
Every year, we witness enterprise tech advance forward in leaps and bounds. The dawn of IoT-enabled devices, the mass exodus to the cloud, and the onset of super-fast networks like 5G have revolutionized the modern-day workspace and have enticed the deployment of hundreds and thousands of endpoints in a corporate network. Mobile devices like iPhones were widespread in the office long before cloud adoption and 5G, and traditional device management solutions failed to make the cut. The first mobile device management (MDM) solution was born out of this need to properly protect and control the plethora of devices that operate in a business. After all, modern problems require modern solutions.
Encompassing mobile devices, desktops and even IoT devices, unified endpoint management (UEM) solutions are the natural evolution of MDMs. UEMs offer administrators visibility and control over corporate resources and applications, acting as the first line of protection against hostile actors. The UEM market, valued at over $8 billion in 2021, is expected to reach around $100 billion by 2030.
The Remote Work Paradigm
The pandemic of 2020 ensured that all of us are very familiar with the phrase work from home. Although remote working had many advantages for both employees and employers, it was a nightmare from a cybersecurity point of view. Research by Tessian has shown that employees practice terrible cybersecurity practices when working from home. In fact, most employees believe that working from home allows them to engage in riskier security habits. Employees even admitted to sharing their corporate devices with their household members for personal use. The scary part is that without the proper tools, admins have no means of ensuring proper cyber hygiene.
UEMs, address this issue with an inspired approach through compliance policies. These policies help the IT team to ascertain whether their corporate devices are only being used for work. They can ensure safe web browsing by blacklisting malicious websites, disabling any non-work-related websites or applications and configuring the office VPN in the device. They can also protect the device by enforcing restrictions that prevent it from connecting to unsafe WIFI, Bluetooth, or even external storage devices. Even after securing remote workers through these policies, there is always a chance of something going wrong when dealing with thousands of devices. UEMs address this by giving IT complete visibility into all the devices and allowing them to monitor and manage these devices remotely. As a result, in case of any issues, admins can remotely troubleshoot the device and offer assistance to the user.
The Increasing Threat Landscape
Since endpoints are potential gateways into a corporate network, they become enticing opportunities for malicious actors. Regrettably, there is no shortage of attackers waiting for a chance to strike. Multinational enterprises like Microsoft to humanitarian organizations like Red Cross have all been victims of cyber-attacks. Fortunately, if an endpoint is a gateway, then a UEM is its gatekeeper. Regular updates and patches can be pushed on schedule to ensure that the OS is up to date, and advanced restrictions prevent employees from tweaking around the device or connecting them to other devices. Furthermore, regular scans also ensure that all these devices are in compliance.
Any device regulated by a UEM may be wiped instantaneously in the event of a breach, preventing any attacker from gaining access to the corporate data. Additionally, In the event that the device is stolen or misplaced, it can also be locked down and tracked down if location sharing is enabled rather than being entirely erased. Most modern UEMs even have the capability to run custom scripts that can be used to work around zero-day vulnerabilities.
Simplifying IT Administration
Aiding remote work is only one part of a UEM. Even when working from the office, managing the myriad of corporate devices is an arduous task. Every new or existing device and user can be onboarded through an enrollment link sent via email. To make it even easier, admins can opt for out-of-the-box enrollment, which ensures that when an employee boots up a new device, it automatically gets onboarded.
Once enrolled, admins get access to all the features of the UEM and can easily monitor health, compliance and many other device info. Most organizations have a team dedicated to IT, which includes admins, technicians and other roles. However, not every role among them needs the same level of access. UEMs like Hexnode addresses this by providing a level-based access system by restricting certain features based on the user’s role. This is a solution that handles every device deployed in an organization, so the enterprise should take care of who has access to all that. Assigning role-based access allows organizations to protect corporate data and simplifies management by creating a hierarchal architecture for governance.
For security-conscious managers who wish to lock down company data and ensure the safety of their users online, UEM solutions have developed to encompass a wide range of endpoints while providing remote security for all their employees working from home. For IT admins looking to disentangle management operations, UEM solutions deliver a unified console that provides granular control over device features and provides visibility into every device deployed in the corporate network.
Apu Pavithran is the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Hexnode, the Unified Endpoint Management Solution that helps customers manage and secure endpoints from a central console. He is responsible for visualizing, formulating and implementing Hexnode’s vision to be the forefront of technology. An entrepreneur to the core, Apu is a thought-leader and a strong advocate of governance and information security.