Mobile Device Deployment Models

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If you’re planning to take the SY0-501 version of the Security+ exam, you should understand the different mobile device deployment models. In some models, the organization owns the device, but in other models, employees own the device.

See if you can you answer this question.

Q. Management decided last year to allow employees to connect and use their personal mobile devices on the internal network. However, the organization is having problems with these devices including the following:

  • Employees do not keep their devices updated.
  • There is no standardization among the devices.
  • The organization doesn’t have adequate control over the devices.

Management wants to implement a mobile device deployment model to overcome these problems, while still allowing employees to use their own devices. Which of the following is the BEST choice?

A. BYOD

B. COPE

C. CYOD

D. SaaS

More, do you know why the correct answer is correct and the incorrect answers are incorrect? The answer and explanation are available at the end of this post.

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Deploying Mobile Devices Securely

Mobile devices represent significant challenges for organizations today. Organizations need to determine if employees can connect mobile devices to the network. If so, organizations need to identify methods to manage the security related to the devices, and how to monitor the devices and enforce security policies.

What is a mobile device? Within the context of the CompTIA Security+ exam, you can think of a mobile device as a smartphone or tablet. Further, NIST SP 800-124,“Guidelines for Managing the Security of Mobile Devices in the Enterprise,” mentions that mobile devices have additional characteristics, such as at least one wireless network interface, local data storage, an operating system (that isn’t a full-fledged desktop or laptop operating system), and the ability to install additional applications.

Mobile devices typically have other optional features. This includes other networking options such as Bluetooth, near field communication, cellular access for voice communications, and Global Positioning System (GPS) services. They typically include a digital camera, a video recorder, a microphone, and the ability to transfer data to another system such as a traditional computer or to other mobile devices.

The NIST definition excludes many devices. For example, a laptop is not considered a mobile device within this definition. Laptops have full operating systems and there are many security controls available for them, which aren’t available in smartphones and tablets. Additionally, basic cell phones and digital cameras are not included in this definition because they cannot access networks and aren’t susceptible to the same risks associated with smartphones and tablets.

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Deployment Models

Any device connected to an organization’s network represents a potential risk. As a simple example, if someone connects an infected device to a network, it might be able to infect other devices on the network. To limit this risk, organizations take steps to monitor and manage mobile devices.

If the organization owns all the devices connected to the network, it’s a simple matter to monitor and manage them. However, if employees own these devices (such as their own smartphone), monitoring and managing the devices becomes more challenging. As an example, employees want to access the network resources with their own device, but they are sometimes resistant to allowing the organization to monitor and manage their personal device.

Mobile Device Deployment Models

The following list identifies some common deployment models for mobile devices. Notice that in some models, the organization owns the device, but in other models, employees own the device:

  • Corporate-owned. In this traditional deployment model, the organization purchases devices and issues them to employees.
  • COPE (corporate-owned, personally enabled). COPE is similar to the traditional corporate-owned model, but the primary difference is that the employees are free to use the device as if it was their personally owned device. This allows employees to use the devices for personal activities in addition to connecting them to the organization’s network. Because the organization owns the devices, it makes it easier to manage them.
  • BYOD (bring your own device). Some organizations allow employees to bring their own mobile devices to work and attach them to the network. Employees are responsible for selecting and supporting the device and they typically must comply with a BYOD policy when connecting their device to the network. While this is simple for the employees, it is sometimes referred to as bring your own disaster among IT professionals. Because employees can have any possible device, the IT department is now responsible for supporting, monitoring, and managing any possible device owned by employees.
  • CYOD (choose your own device). To avoid some of the challenges related to supporting any possible mobile devices, some organizations create a list of acceptable devices along with a CYOD policy. Employees can purchase devices on the list and bring them to work. This gives the IT department a specific list of devices that they need to support, monitor, and manage.
  • VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure). VDIs host a user’s desktop operating system on a server. While these are typically accessed by traditional computers within a network, it’s also possible to deploy a VDI that users can access with their mobile device. This allows users to access any applications installed on their desktop. When the organization hosts a remote access solution such as a virtual private network (VPN), users can access the mobile VDI from anywhere if they have Internet access.

The use of mobile devices has exploded in the last few years with more and more organizations allowing employees to connect mobile devices to the network. This results in many challenges for an organization, but mobile device management tools help administrators handle these challenges.


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Q. Management decided last year to allow employees to connect and use their personal mobile devices on the internal network. However, the organization is having problems with these devices including the following:

  • Employees do not keep their devices updated.
  • There is no standardization among the devices.
  • The organization doesn’t have adequate control over the devices.

Management wants to implement a mobile device deployment model to overcome these problems, while still allowing employees to use their own devices. Which of the following is the BEST choice?

A. BYOD

B. COPE

C. CYOD

D. SaaS

Answer is C. A choose your own device mobile device model includes a list of acceptable devices that employees can purchase and connect to the network. IT management can then implement a mobile device management (MDM) system to provide standardized management for these devices.

The current policy is a bring your own device (BYOD) policy, but because of the lack of standardization, it’s extremely difficult for IT departments to adequately manage the devices and ensure they don’t introduce vulnerabilities to the network.

A corporate-owned personally enabled (COPE) indicates the organization owns the devices, not the employees.

Software as a Service (SaaS) is a cloud deployment model, not a mobile device deployment model.

See Chapter 5 of the CompTIA Security+ Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-501 Study Guide for more information on securing hosts and data.

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