Device Tracking

Why device tracking is important for IT security

The shift to enterprise mobility and remote learning is crucial—understand why device protection is more important than ever.

November 27, 2023

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, the shift towards enterprise mobility and remote learning has been monumental. The "Bring Your Own Device" (BYOD) culture also has skyrocketed and become more prevalent due to the rise of work-from-home environments. This shift not only reflects changing work and learning habits but also emphasizes the critical role of device tracking in maintaining robust device security. It is now crucial to ensure the safety of all devices, as they have become an essential part of our personal and professional lives.

💡 Learn more about how this shift has impacted cybersecurity in our industry report.

The rising adoption of enterprise mobility and BYOD

The trend of enterprise mobility and BYOD has marked a significant evolution in the way we work and learn. This progression allows employees and students to use their personal devices for professional or educational purposes, offering unprecedented flexibility and convenience. However, this trend has also dramatically reshaped the IT ecosystem, particularly in remote work and learning. It has introduced a dynamic where work and personal data coexist; the security perimeter has now expanded or completely disappeared, which brings unique challenges and opportunities.

Challenges posed to traditional IT security frameworks

  1. Device Diversity and Management: The increasing variety of devices used in a BYOD environment, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops with different operating systems, creates significant challenges for IT security. Each type of device and operating system has its own vulnerabilities and requires specific security measures.
  2. Data Leakage Risks: With employees accessing corporate data on their personal devices, the risk of data leakage is substantially heightened. Personal devices are more likely to be used for non-work-related activities, increasing the chances of exposing sensitive information through insecure apps or networks.
  3. Network Security Vulnerabilities: Personal devices often lack robust security measures compared to corporate-issued hardware. When these devices connect to the company network, they can introduce vulnerabilities, potentially allowing cybercriminals to infiltrate the network.
  4. Compliance and Policy Enforcement: Ensuring compliance with data protection regulations like GDPR or HIPAA becomes more challenging in a BYOD environment. Organizations must enforce policies that govern the use of personal devices for work purposes, but doing so without infringing on employee privacy can be difficult.

The importance of device tracking for device security

Device tracking and monitoring became crucial tools ever since everyone started to carry a smartphone to work. It offers comprehensive visibility into the whereabouts and usage of devices, which is essential for maintaining security in workplaces where remote operations and BYOD policies are now commonplace. The ability to monitor devices in real-time ensures that IT departments can swiftly identify and respond to security threats, thereby safeguarding organizational data and resources.

Key threats addressed by device tracking

Remote devices are attractive targets for attackers due to their access to valuable corporate data and often weaker security measures. Device tracking helps mitigate these risks by enabling organizations to monitor device locations and usage patterns, detect unauthorized access, and respond promptly to potential threats.

Theft and physical loss

The loss or theft of devices poses significant risks to IT teams and businesses. Device tracking mitigates these risks by enabling the quick location of lost devices, remotely wiping data to prevent unauthorized access, and tracking the movement of stolen devices to aid recovery efforts.

Rogue users

Rogue user behaviors, such as unauthorized data access or misuse of company resources, present internal threats. Device tracking aids in monitoring and managing these insider threats by providing insights into user behavior, flagging unusual activities, and enabling swift remedial actions.

Unusual device locations

Unusual device location behaviors can be a red flag for security breaches. Device tracking helps in identifying and responding to such anomalies, allowing IT teams to promptly investigate and address potential security incidents related to geographic inconsistencies.

Unauthorized access and data breaches

Unauthorized access and data breaches are critical concerns for IT teams and businesses. Device tracking plays a vital role in preventing and detecting breaches by monitoring access patterns, alerting to suspicious activities, and providing tools to swiftly respond to security incidents.

💡 Learn more on how to track the location of Windows devices in your company

Different types of device-tracking software

Various types of device-tracking software cater to different needs, from basic consumer options to sophisticated fleet management systems. Each type offers unique features and capabilities, making it vital for organizations to choose the right solution that aligns with their specific requirements for data protection, security, and efficient resource management.

Types of Device-Tracking Software:

  • Consumer Device-Tracking Software:Consumer device tracking software, like Apple's Find My and Google's Find My Device, is designed for minimalistic, user-friendly device tracking. Ideal for small businesses or personal use, these solutions offer basic data protection and device location services, often bundled free with consumer devices. However, their simplicity and limited management tools make them less suitable for larger, commercial environments.
  • People Tracking Solutions:Solutions such as Life360 and Device Tracker Plus specialize in people tracking, providing live location monitoring and safety features like panic buttons. They cater to both familial and workplace environments, allowing efficient tracking of individuals and enhancing safety. However, these technologies can raise privacy concerns and are potentially susceptible to misuse.
  • Physical Device Tracking (Tags or External Hardware):This type of tracking, exemplified by Cisco CMX and Zebra MotionWorks, employs external hardware like RFID tags or BLE beacons for precise asset and personnel tracking. It's particularly effective in managing inventory and optimizing facility layouts, but the visible nature of tags can be a security concern and may involve higher costs.
  • Fleet-Focused Alternatives:Fleet-focused tracking systems are designed to monitor vehicles, optimizing routes and ensuring driver safety. These systems are crucial for businesses relying on transportation and logistics, providing real-time vehicle tracking and maintenance alerts. However, their application is mainly limited to vehicular assets.
  • Mobile Device Management (MDM) Software with Tracking: MDM solutions like Microsoft Intune integrate device tracking into broader device management frameworks. They're ideal for organizations managing large fleets of devices, offering extensive features beyond location tracking, including policy enforcement and app management. While comprehensive, they can be complex and costly to implement.

💡 Prey & Microsoft Intune: A thorough comparison

  • Dedicated Device Tracking Software:Dedicated tracking software, such as Prey, focuses exclusively on device location, offering advanced tracking features with high accuracy. Suitable for organizations requiring precise device tracking, these standalone solutions often boast multi-OS compatibility and work well alongside other management tools.

How Prey can enhance IT security through device tracking

Let’s talk about Prey's capabilities

Prey is a robust security platform that excels in monitoring, tracking, and protecting devices across multiple operating systems. Its capabilities extend to real-time GPS tracking, security geofencing, and rapid response to theft or loss, among others. Prey's suite of tools is designed to streamline device security and compliance, ensuring that IT teams can effectively manage and secure their device fleets.

Prey offers a comprehensive set of features aimed at enhancing device security and management. This includes advanced tracking systems, data protection tools, and management solutions that cater to the needs of diverse IT environments.

GPS Real-Time tracking

Prey's GPS Real-Time Tracking allows for continuous monitoring of device locations. This feature is crucial in keeping tabs on device movements and ensuring that they are used within authorized areas, greatly enhancing security and operational oversight.

Security geofencing

Prey's Security Geofencing enables organizations to set geographical boundaries for device usage. When a device enters or leaves these predefined zones, alerts are triggered, allowing for proactive security measures and better control over the device fleet.

Quick response to theft or loss

In instances of theft or loss, Prey's rapid response capabilities come to the forefront. The platform can quickly locate lost or stolen devices, providing essential information to recover them and prevent potential data breaches.

Location History

Tracking the historical movements of devices is another key feature of Prey. This capability allows IT teams to review past device locations, offering insights into usage patterns and identifying potential security risks.

Enhanced data protection

Prey significantly contributes to safeguarding sensitive information. Its data protection features include remote wipe and encryption, ensuring that critical data does not fall into the wrong hands.

Compliance with data protection regulations

Adhering to data protection regulations is simplified with Prey. The platform's features help ensure compliance with legal requirements, a critical aspect for organizations operating in various regulatory environments.

Asset management and inventory oversight

Prey streamlines IT asset management by providing a comprehensive overview of device inventory. This includes tools for device assignment, tracking, and management, which are essential for maintaining order and efficiency in large device fleets.

💡 Learn more on how to optimize Prey for device tracking for your company

Success Stories using Prey

Prey has been instrumental in recovering stolen or misplaced devices, proving its efficacy in real-world scenarios. These astounding success stories highlight the remarkable capabilities of Prey in locating devices and aiding in their safe return, showcasing its utility in both personal and professional contexts.

The stolen laptop in New York City

In a thrilling turn of events, Sean Power, an Ottawa resident, used Prey to track his stolen MacBook to a bar in New York City. Initially forgetting about Prey, which he had installed six months earlier, he remembered and activated it to locate his laptop.

Utilizing Prey’s features, in this case, the Missing Report feature, he captured images of the thief and monitored his online activities. Power's Twitter updates about the pursuit drew his followers' attention, some of whom went to the bar and confronted the individual. The man, shocked by the circumstances, returned the laptop to Power, demonstrating Prey's effectiveness in real-time device recovery.

The case of the “deceased administrator”

In a bizarre twist, a medical practice using Prey, managed by an MSP, faced a crisis when an administrator who took a laptop containing sensitive patient and financial information home died in an auto accident. Or so it seemed. The laptop's whereabouts became a critical concern, especially due to the sensitive data it held. Leveraging Prey's capabilities alongside other security software, the MSP was able to remotely activate the laptop’s webcam.

To their astonishment, the supposedly deceased administrator was found alive, leisurely using the laptop in an RV in the desert. This discovery led to police intervention, revealing the administrator's fake death, the theft of the RV, and the embezzlement of funds. This incident underscores the crucial role Prey can play in not only recovering devices but also in unveiling deceptive schemes.

Prey and Protect: The art of device security

The importance of device tracking for IT security cannot be overstated. With the surge in BYOD policies and remote working environments, tracking technology becomes essential to safeguard sensitive data and mitigate risks associated with device loss or theft. Prey exemplifies how advanced tracking solutions can not only enhance security protocols but also provide critical recovery capabilities, playing a pivotal role in maintaining the integrity and safety of organizational and personal devices in various challenging scenarios.

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