mdm identity management

In an increasingly mobile and interconnected world, managing the digital identities of employees, devices, and apps is more important than ever. Enter Identity Management within Mobile Device Management (MDM)—a complex yet vital undertaking that assures the right people have the right access to the right resources. This article delves into the intricacies of Identity Management in MDM, offers best practices for implementation, and provides actionable insights for administrators.

This article is part of our guide "Mastering Mobile Device Management Operations: A Guide for Admins".

The Basics of Identity Management

What is Identity Management?

Identity Management (IdM) in the context of MDM involves a framework of policies and technologies that ensure the appropriate people in an enterprise have secure and prompt access to technology resources. It encompasses key elements like Single Sign-On (SSO), Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), and Role-Based Access Control (RBAC).

Key Terms Explained

  • Single Sign-On (SSO): A user authentication process that allows a user to use a single set of credentials to access multiple applications.

  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): An authentication method where a user is granted access only after successfully presenting two or more pieces of evidence (factors).

  • Role-Based Access Control (RBAC): A method of setting roles based on various parameters such as department, job function, or seniority, and then assigning permissions based on those roles.

Why Identity Management is Crucial in MDM

Security Implications

Managing identities is central to avoiding unauthorized access and potential data breaches. Failure to properly implement IdM can make your system susceptible to a variety of threats including phishing scams and insider attacks.

Legal Obligations

MDM admins also have to contend with legal compliance issues such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Effective IdM helps in ensuring that only authorized personnel have access to sensitive data.

Operational Efficiency

Having an efficient IdM system in place also streamlines administrative tasks such as provisioning and deprovisioning of devices, reducing the manual workload for IT departments.

Best Practices for Identity Management in MDM

Implementing Single Sign-On (SSO)

Single Sign-On can greatly enhance user experience by eliminating the need for multiple passwords. But to make SSO secure, MDM administrators should:

  1. Ensure robust encryption standards for the initial login credentials.
  2. Regularly audit the connected applications for any security vulnerabilities.

Utilizing Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

MFA is often considered one of the most effective ways to secure an account. It should ideally be used in combination with SSO. Admins should:

  1. Encourage or mandate the use of MFA, especially for accessing sensitive or critical resources.
  2. Opt for a diverse mix of authentication methods like biometrics, smart cards, or SMS-based verification.

Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) in MDM Policy Allocation

Role-Based Access Control goes beyond merely assigning permissions; in the MDM context, it becomes an instrumental tool for defining and applying policies tailored to individual roles. Whether it's a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) user, a corporate user, or a device with a unique function like a rugged device or kiosk, RBAC helps MDM admins map the right policies to the right people or devices.

Why is RBAC Important for Policy Definition in MDM?

  1. Precision in Policy Allocation: With RBAC, you can create policies that are finely tuned to the needs and permissions of specific roles. This avoids the blanket application of policies that could either be too restrictive or too lax.

  2. Efficiency and Scalability: As your organization grows, so too will the number of devices and user roles. RBAC enables you to scale your policy allocation efficiently without needing to reassess your entire structure.

  3. Security and Compliance: By ensuring only the necessary access is granted, RBAC minimizes the risk of unauthorized data access, thus bolstering security and aiding in compliance efforts.

Practical Steps for MDM Admins

  1. Role Identification and Mapping: Begin by identifying the different types of users and devices in your organization—BYOD users, corporate users, rugged devices for field work, and kiosks, for example. Once these roles are clear, map them to the appropriate policies.

  2. Policy Customization: Customize your policies according to the identified roles. For example, BYOD users might have more restrictions on accessing internal networks compared to corporate users. Likewise, rugged devices used in the field may require specific security policies that are different from those of a general corporate device.

  3. Regular Auditing and Updating: Roles and needs change. Make it a practice to periodically audit your role definitions and the policies mapped to them. This ensures your system remains both secure and functional as your organizational needs evolve.

By leveraging RBAC effectively, MDM admins can simplify the complex task of policy allocation, making it both efficient and precise. It allows you to draw boundaries where needed, providing a versatile tool for maintaining security, compliance, and operational efficiency.

Lifecycle Management

Effective IdM also involves managing the lifecycle of identities. This means having procedures for onboarding new users, transitioning existing ones, and securely offboarding those who leave the organization. Admins should:

  1. Have an automated process for provisioning new devices.
  2. Ensure secure data wiping for devices that are no longer in use.

Real-world Scenarios: Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

MDM administrators often encounter challenges that can disrupt effective IdM. For example, 'role explosion' can occur when too many custom roles are created, leading to administrative complications. To avoid this, maintain a simplified role hierarchy and conduct regular audits.

Actionable Checklist for MDM Admins

checklist mdm

To make your journey toward effective Identity Management smoother, here's a quick checklist:

  1. Implement SSO with strong encryption.
  2. Mandate MFA for critical resources.
  3. Conduct an RBAC audit.
  4. Establish lifecycle management procedures.


In summary, effective Identity Management is not just a security measure but a strategic asset that contributes to operational efficiency and legal compliance. Given its importance, every MDM admin should strive to implement IdM best practices as outlined in this article.

By adhering to these best practices and remaining vigilant, you can ensure that your MDM solution is both secure and efficient, safeguarding your organization's most valuable assets—its data and its people.

If you're navigating the complexities of identity management in an MDM landscape, consider leveraging the capabilities of Our platform is engineered to handle a diverse array of roles, from BYOD and corporate users to specialized rugged or kiosk devices. Administrators have the flexibility to create an unlimited number of policies—whether nested or dynamic—tailored to specific users or device types. Explore the limitless possibilities of effective identity management with and reach out to us if you need more information.

Jérémy Bodokh
September 12, 2023

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