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Try Implementing Mobile Device Management into Your Organization without the Captive Browser


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September 26, 2011

Try Implementing Mobile Device Management into Your Organization without the Captive Browser

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Mobile devices are an important part of our everyday lives, helping us to communicate on-the-go, access rich multimedia and manage the balance between work and play. Within the corporate environment, this demands a clear focus on mobile device management. 

This recent MobileIron blog explored the concept of mobile device management and whether or not a captive browser is a good way to extend secure Web access on iOS out to users. The argument shared here is that the approach sounds good; but when you take a closer look, it’s actually more complicated than originally anticipated. To make this access possible, there is a sequence of events that must first take place:

·         VPN plus Safari is deemed not secure enough because the user can turn off the VPN

·         IT dictates that all users must rely on a 3rd party captive browser to access the Web

·         Users still prefer to use Safari

·         IT responds by turning off Safari on all devices

·         Users respond by downloading an app for Skyfire (News - Alert), Opera or another browser they prefer

·         IT responds again by turning off the App Store in each device

·         Users un-enroll from the iOS MDM profile

·         Safari access is automatically restored, yet all devices are now outside of the corporate mobile device management strategy and insecure.

In this dance between the mobile users and the IT department, the corporation is the ultimate loser as unsecured and unmanaged access to the network puts the network and all applications at risk. Even the best-intentioned user is likely to look to go around security firewalls if your approach to mobile device management results in damage to the user experience.

The scenario described above is not only possible with captive browser mandates, but also e-mail sandboxes and heavy lockdown security models for mobile users. The security of the network is a priority in mobile device management, but there is a healthy approach to employ that protects the experience for the user, while also achieving the goal of secure use. 

The best approach to healthy mobile device management is one that is both sustainable, but simultaneously protects the network and the experience for the user. You want your mobile users to be at their best while completing business operations for the company, so don’t compromise their capabilities by implementing a mobile device management policy that is too strict. Instead, apply processes and policies that invite collaboration and complete mobility without control that limits the experience.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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