Mobile Device Management or MDM has become a very popular topic following the smart phone and tablet market explosion (more on this found HERE). Everybody seems to own a range of mobiles devices making provisioning wireless and maintaining security a ongoing challenge. To address this demand, a handful of vendors have developed mobile device management solutions to provide these and other capabilities.
- Ability to verify the security settings of a mobile device –Example is if the Password function is enabled?
- Verify if the device is a threat to security – Example is jailbroken iDevices.
- Identify software installed and perform app control – Example pre-install Dragon talk and remove Angry Birds
- Provide select and full wipe if stolen – Selective focusing on corporate data and preserving personal photos, music, etc.
- Locate and lock a device identified as stolen
- Making the on-boarding experience smooth and with little IT support.
- And many other features such as Geo fencing, VPN enforcement, etc.
I was surprised when I heard Meraki (now part of Cisco) has a MDM solution that is free. I tried it out and found it had most of the core features offered by other paid services and in many cases was much easier to use. Usually free equals low grade however so far I’m convinced Meraki’s MDM is up there with the rest. For those with kids starting to use a mobile phone, this is a fantastic way to locate them, deny downloading adult material (such as graphic games) on their devices and monitor how the device is used. I personally use it for tracking and wiping my mobile devices in the event they are stolen or lost.
Meraki MDM Setup
To create your own MDM account, go to http://meraki.cisco.com/products/systems-manager. You will be asked to fill out one screen of basic information before you are redirected to the cloud GUI dashboard. (Total time – less than 1 minute setup)
Device Support For Meraki MDM
To add Apple iOS devices, you must first setup iOS enrollment by obtaining an Apple MDM push cert. This process is pretty simple to do. First, go to Deployment under the Mobile tab and you will find options for setting up iOS and Android Enrollment. The iOS section will provide a link to generate a Meraki cert that will be required to be signed by Apple.
Steps to generate a Apple Push cert
The next step will open an Apple link that asks you to sign in with your Apple user ID. Once signed in, you simply upload the Meraki cert and Apple will generate a new MDM_Meraki push cert. Upload that cert back in the Meraki dashboard under step 3 and you are ready to add iOS devices. (total time – less than 3 minutes)
Apple Link to Generate Push Cert
To add a iOS device, you can use a few methods found under the Deployment section of the Mobile tab such as reading a QR code or accessing m.meraki.com to enter a network ID specific to your deployment. I used the web link method and was prompted to install the Meraki cert on my device once I entered my iPhone’s security login.
Adding a iOS device options
Accessing m.meraki.com and Installing Cert on Mobile Device
At this point, I have full management of my device. The whole process took me under 5 minutes to create a new account, generate the iOS cert and add my iPhone and iPad.
Dashboard managing two iOS devices
There is a ton of info that is captured about the device. I can see and control apps installed, perform selective or full wipes, locate my device, view storage, phone number, MAC address, push out software, enforce security such as password strength, Geofencing (IE alerting when a device moves out of a specific area) etc. This is pretty awesome for FREE! If you are looking at a MDM, consider this one.
Details on a mobile iOS device
MDM Password, Lock and Device Wipe Options