Mobile Device Management in Action

By John Bath

With all the advancements that have been made in mobile technology, it’s become clear that our mobile devices are becoming less like phones and more like little windows into our lives. Just think of everything we keep on them. Between social media, apps, conversations and browsing history, how much do you think someone could learn about you from your device? Subsequently, this new level of intimacy only increases the risks involved when your phone goes missing.

These days, unauthorized long-distance charges would be the least of your problems. Saved account information for popular payment platforms such as PayPal or Apple Pay can offer up unrestricted access to your bank accounts in the case of a lost phone. And in an increasingly B.Y.O.D. work culture, businesses themselves could even be put at risk. Mobile Device Management (MDM) policies, however, have been designed to prevent such breaches through the remote wipe of enrolled devices.

As someone in constant contact with our clients, our accounts manager Heather often uses her phone for work. “Calendar syncs, my contacts, my emails, company Facebook,” name just a few that she listed, only causing more concern when hen her phone vanished on the subway last week. Thankfully, the device was enrolled in our own MDM program, which could give some peace of mind despite the circumstance. This week I took some time to speak with her about the ordeal.

Both fortunately and unfortunately, this was not her first rodeo. “I lost my phone back in 2004,” she tells me, so panic was not going to be her immediate response. “Stay calm,” was her first thought. “Maybe there was a good Samaritan who picked up my phone and turned it in,” was her second.

After a bit of searching, it became clear that this would not be the case, “When I went back to the station it was not turned in. Then I used the locator on my Microsoft account to see it was in my neighborhood. The person who stole it refused to answer it or return the phone.”

With favorable outcomes dwindling and company data accessible from the device, it was time to go nuclear and start a remote wipe. She did this by contacting our system administrator. “I asked for the full system wipe to be done and this was completed within 5-10 minutes,” she says. An automated email from our system would confirm that the contents of the phone had been erased. All that was left was to replace the device, and Heather had actually kept a damaged phone as a backup. The speed and ease at which everything was resolved astounds me.

“I lost the phone at 7pm,” she reminds me, “The next day at 9am I took the replacement phone to get fixed, had the phone back at 1pm and activated by 3pm. EVERYTHING was back!” When Heather says this, she absolutely means it. By pairing her previous phone with her Office 365 account, all its contents had been synced with the cloud over time. “The last text message I remember sending was there,” she states for emphasis, “The last email and calendar was all in sync after I added my Office 365 and MS account.”

With all this in mind, I asked Heather what she thought about losing a phone in 2015. “When I got a new phone [in 2004] I had to ask everyone who texted or called me who it was because my contacts were missing. I did not have to do that all this time,” she replied. “It was if I didn’t even lose my phone after I activated the new SIM card. Pictures were there, text, emails and calendars all because they were backed up to the cloud.”

So we may be putting much more value into such small spaces these days, but this has only spurred the advancement of technologies that can keep us safer. Between MDM and cloud storage working in tandem, a lost phone is no longer the same headache and risk as it once was. After listening to Heather recount her story, I’m sure I’ll still be upset if/when my phone goes missing, but I will feel comforted knowing that, truly, all is not lost.

Have your own harrowing tale of a lost device? We’d love to hear about your own steps taken to stay secure! Tell us all about it in our comments sector, or chat us up on Facebook!

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