By: Travis Phillips, Director of Operations for Moki
Part 1 explored some of the applications for mobile device management, as well as how MDM software can be deployed to hardware devices on digital signage networks. Once the solution is deployed, the focus turns to securing and monitoring the MDM solution.
The security policies enacted by the organization represent the essential benefits that an MDM brings to an organization. Digital signage endpoints are web-enabled devices with standard security risks, and the organization’s policies will allow access for specific applications that relate to the user experience.
Let’s consider an organization’s security policy for a network of interactive kiosks in a customer-facing environment. Configured within and deployed from the MDM server management interface, customers are provided access to enter personal information within a secure environment. This can be a food order inside a quick-service restaurant, patient information within a healthcare waiting room, or banking information in a financial institution.
The MDM software locks down the system to protect against intrusions and maintain the customer’s security and privacy. This also benefits the business that may lack the human resources to manually procure information from a customer, or otherwise accelerate the ordering or queueing process. It should be noted the MDM software does not access or store the customer’s private information. The organization may also enact policies that allow access to a limited number of URLs, preventing access to websites that are desired to be locked down on the device.
This last point is especially important for public networks. Digital out-of-home (OOH) networks often extend to outdoor media, including large billboards and modern emerging amenities such as electric vehicle charging stations. These are typically monetized networks with advertising content from stakeholders that requires absolute protection.
The last item that creative and marketing teams often consider is securing the devices. Recall the “adult content intrusion” at Washington, DC’s Union Station not long ago – in addition to the embarrassment factor, the cloud software powering ads and directories was essentially taken offline.
This was not a hack; this was an instance of a rogue individual who accessed a kiosk that was not properly locked down and did not prevent access to URLs that are often inaccessible thanks to MDM-originated policies. While this incident was not widely damaging, imagine the possibilities – and ramifications – of a broader network intrusion across an ad-supported network.
Monitoring is an important element of the MDM solution, and critical to ensuring that network security is optimized. The MDM management interface typically provides dashboard visibility into everything from the simplest tasks (endpoint connectivity, on/offline) to network-wide firmware updates that keep sensitive MDM applications up to date.
These toolsets continue to improve. Moki, for example, recently built a remote control feature that integrates well with the standard monitoring toolset. It removes the need to conduct manual updates at the end points, further centralizing MDM maintenance operations to the central interface.
Perhaps most important to the day-to-day is how the MDM software integrates with the digital signage CMS and media players that power the endpoints. Many MDMs focus exclusively on a specific operating system, and this can be particularly powerful for single-site networks that standardize on iOS or Android, for example.
Digital signage networks are often spread over multiple sites, and local branches will often have the approval to choose their own players and operating systems. These mixed-device systems can grow tricky for customers that may have to log out of one MDM interface that serves iOS devices to access another that serves BrightSign devices. This is far from an efficient use of time and labor. We recommend using a single MDM interface that can manage and control every media player on the network, as well as deploy and upgrade software easily for a mixed collection of media players.
As mobile device management is still something of an emerging concept in the digital signage world, operational efficiencies like this may not matter much in traditional MDM environments. They will, however, bring enormous benefits to both private and public organizations in charge of managing secure networks, from single-building systems to multi-site networks that can infinitely scale.