Posted by Mike Schneider
Mobile device management (MDM) is growing as bring-your-own-device (BYOD) becomes a workplace norm and mobile security is now a necessity for businesses of all industries and sizes. According to a Cisco report, 70% of IT professionals believe the use of unauthorized programs results in as many as half of their companies’ data loss incidents. 39% of IT professionals said they have dealt with an employee accessing unauthorized parts of their company’s network.
Companies want to be able to control who has access to what data based on where they are - even when offline. Now, they don’t have to wait for a device to come online to act on its location and determine whether access to secure data should be granted. Even when a device is asleep in a power saving mode or when apps are running in the background, MDM providers can determine when a device leaves a secure location with geofencing.
Geofencing plays a significant role in the MDM industry, as it allows IT administrators to set geographic boundaries indicating secure areas. Geofencing gives MDM clients granular control over their employee’s devices, while respecting their privacy when outside of the office.
Geofences can trigger real-time alerts that notify a school administrator when a school-owned device enters or exits an area. This feature would be valuable to educational institutions that want to protect their investment in new technology by ensuring that students do not take devices home, or that they return them on time.
In addition to device security, geofencing can also ensure document security. This is especially important for securing patient medical records and information. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) established a national set of security standards for the protection of any health information that is stored or transferred in electronic form. HIPAA addresses the technical safeguards that organizations must put in place to secure individuals’ “electronic protected health information” (e-PHI).
Today, medical providers are adopting the use of mobile devices to view and share medical documents and data such as computerized prescription entries or electronic health records. Health plans are now enabling access to claims and care management through mobile devices and computers, as well as through member self-service apps. While this means that the medical workforce can be more mobile and efficient and physicians can check hospital records from wherever they are, the rise in the adoption rate of these technologies increases potential security risks.
A major goal of HIPAA is to protect the privacy of individuals’ health information while allowing the medical industry to improve the quality and efficiency of patient care by adopting new technologies. MDM providers with precise location abilities can help secure medical records and data by ensuring the proper access to this information. For instance, a hospital may want to grant its doctors access to patient records only inside hospital walls and in the security of their homes. With MDM, hospitals can geofence not only their property but any location they deem secure.
While geofencing has the capability to improve device and document security, standard geofence offerings are limited. The number of active geofences allowed per Android device caps at 100 and iOS devices at 20. They also limit the shape of geofence boundaries to point and radius. Thinking about creating geofences is easy, but designing, coding and implementing them to get around device limits and be flexibly managed is time-consuming and difficult.
Skyhook’s Context Accelerator SDK allows MDM providers to activate an infinite number of geofences regardless of device limitations. Our custom polygon geofences classified by venue type make geofencing thrive at scale without draining device batteries or requiring intensive coding. MDM providers can bring these features into their platforms so clients can manage geofences in the same place they manage the rest of their device settings.