What is unified endpoint management? UEM explained

November 17, 2020 | Mark Stone

This blog was written by a third party author.

The business world is undergoing its most dramatic shift yet with the adoption of digital assets and workforce decentralization representing a huge business opportunity. These changes have led to added endpoints, or devices connecting to the network, and is enabling this transformation. But managing the volumes of these diverse endpoints and geographic locations has grown in complexity.

Furthermore, along with these changes in technology adoption and distribution of the workforce, the cybersecurity landscape is also changing. The multitude of endpoints that connect to the network is expanding the attack surface that bad actors with malicious intent can attempt to exploit.

From a cybersecurity perspective, this influx of endpoints represents a significant business risk. Organizations need to understand the importance of both managing and securing their endpoints and how these two variables are intertwined for a complete endpoint security strategy.

What is UEM?

Traditional mobile device management has evolved, and in some way, UEM represents this modern evolution. With the dramatic increase of remote connectivity via mobile devices, shift to work from home, and IoT adoption, unified endpoint management has become the solution for modern IT departments looking to secure these environments. 

Unified endpoint management is more than just managing endpoints. The “unified” represents one console for deploying, managing, and helping to secure corporate endpoints and applications.  In addition, UEM offers the abilities for provisioning, detection, deployment, troubleshooting and updating.

UEM software gives IT and security departments the visibility and control over their devices as well as their end-users, delivered through a centralized management console.

The goal of UEM software is to simplify an organization's endpoint strategy. But when adopting UEM software, it’s critical to approach the implementation with a big-picture view and plan accordingly.

UEM security benefits

Unified endpoint management offers organizations many benefits, with the most appealing being reduced costs across multiple departments. By comprehensively automating many IT tasks and processing, UEM often lowers overhead costs and hardware expenditures.

Other key benefits are as follows:

Offers endpoint management integration with multiple platforms

One of the major selling points of UEM software is its ability to integrate with a variety of platforms, including Windows 10, macOS, Linux, Chrome OS, iOS, and Android, among others. With UEM, your business can configure, control, and monitor devices on these platforms from a single management console.

With this integration, the burden of connecting these systems is reduced, costs are lowered, and risks are mitigated.

Provides data and app protection across the attack surface

UEM protects corporate data and applications, reducing cybersecurity threats.

This protection is accomplished by:

  • Providing conditional user access
  • Enforcing automated rules
  • Enforcing compliance guidelines
  • Providing safeguards for data loss
  • Empowering IT administrators to identify jailbreaks and OS rooting on devices 

And, when combined with a Mobile Threat Defense (MTD) solution, UEM’s can enforce security policies and take automated remediation steps to further mitigate security risks for iOS and Android devices.

Boasts advanced desktop management

With UEM, desktop operating systems gain a digital transformation boost that simplifies deployment and helps optimize app delivery and patch automation. Plus, an endpoint’s data and apps can be tracked and audited for reporting purposes.

Helps establish a modern BYOD security stance

An effective UEM deployment can go a long way in maintaining the user experience for employees, regardless of who owns the device.

UEM can be an effective tool for patching vulnerable applications, updating to the latest OS version, and enforcing the use of endpoint security software that actively protects BYOD devices from network-based attacks, malware, and vulnerability exploits.

IT and security teams must understand that BYOD is not just a mobile trend. User-owned PCs, connected personal devices like smartwatches, and so many IoT devices have and will find their way into the BYOD system.

Effective BYOD security requires the advanced technology that UEM delivers.

Unified Endpoint Management Solution

Helps organizations harness the power of highly secure mobility and improved device compliance.

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UEM Strategies

Before rolling out any UEM solution, it’s critical for the organization to lay the foundation for effective deployment. By embracing a few key strategies, you can dramatically improve the chances of a successful implementation. 

Establish a robust endpoint management policy

With BYOD and work from home, the risk of company data being compromised increases. Before implementing a UEM solution, an endpoint management policy is essential to ensure that all of your endpoint devices meet specific requirements before access to your business’s network and resources are granted.

The endpoint management policy should incorporate all the relevant security policies and associated security solutions for your business, including analytics, traffic analysis, antivirus/antimalware, device control, and even endpoint detection and response.

Ensure mobile content management is addressed

As the mobile landscape changes, your content and access management strategy must shift with it. All mobile endpoints used for corporate purposes should adhere to policies and guidelines.

Effective endpoint management should provide capabilities for mobile users to enroll without IT intervention. Your endpoint management policy should also include Identity and Access Management (IAM) services to help IT and security teams monitor and control mobile access securely and confidently.

Keep personal and corporate data separate

When deploying an endpoint management solution and policy on BYOD devices, employee privacy must be maintained. With the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), employees’ personal data (documents, photos, contacts etc.) should not be controlled by a company's endpoint management software. To address this, containers can be created that isolate corporate data on personal devices. Protecting both corporate and personal data must be prioritized in an endpoint management solution.

Enable a seamless user experience

Perhaps the most important goal for implementing a UEM is improving your employees’ productivity without sacrificing security. Ease of access and functionality should be prioritized without noticeable disruption of access to business applications, data, or services.

Ultimately, your endpoint management solution and policy should align with business requirements. The best UEMs deliver a user experience that is secure, agile and consistent.

UEM vs. MDM vs. EMM

Mobile device management (MDM), the original endpoint management solution, was created to help businesses monitor and manage mobile devices MDM also includes features like lockdown, device wipe, and some location tracking.  However, the MDM model doesn't support the flexibility required for a transformed workforce.

To meet today’s rapidly evolving demands, MDM matured into the more streamlined enterprise mobility management (EMM). EMM goes one step further with additional management elements to help protect a more significant portion of the network — such as mobile application management, mobile content management, and mobile information management.

Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) builds upon EMM by adding capabilities to oversee documents, applications, content, and access and identity management.

Think of UEM like MDM or EMM on steroids. Some UEMs can even manage other endpoints like printers, desktops, wearables, and IoT devices from a single platform.

With the importance of endpoint management more critical today than ever, unified endpoint management represents the natural progression of this specific technology’s evolution. UEM, along with endpoint security and mobile threat defense (MTD) will help bring the management and security elements necessary for an efficient endpoint security strategy.

Mark Stone

About the Author: Mark Stone

Mark Stone is a content and copy writer with over a decade of experience covering technology, business, and cybersecurity. Earlier in his career, he was a cybersecurity analyst in the public sector. He lives in Kelowna, BC with his wife and two black cats.

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