The Role of Mobile Device Management in Law Enforcement Security and Compliance
Rugged mobile devices, from tablets and handhelds to 2-in-1 laptops, are an essential component of the law enforcement tech stack. They enable officers to perform their duties effectively, efficiently, and securely. Mobile device management (MDM) software also plays an important role in law enforcement data security and Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) compliance. Additionally, leveraging MDM capabilities as an end-to-end solution for deploying, monitoring, and managing rugged field devices frees up a department’s IT staff to focus on higher-value activities.
Meeting CJIS Security Requirements with MDM
In conjunction with high-speed broadband connectivity, today’s powerful rugged devices allow officers in the field to access the data they need to do their jobs, no matter where it resides. Patrol officers, detectives, forensics specialists, and other field operatives gain quick and efficient access to the department’s background check, case management, records management, citation systems, reporting systems, and more.
Beyond that local data, users may also utilize mobile devices to access databases controlled by the CJIS, including:
- The National Crime Information Center (NCIC)
- The National Data Exchange (N-DEx)
- The Law Enforcement Enterprise Portal (LEEP)
- Uniform Crime Reports (UCR)
- Next Generation Identification (NGI)
- Various FBI-maintained databases that support law enforcement
Without proper security measures, local and federal data can fall into the wrong hands if an officer’s device is lost, stolen, or hacked. That’s why using mobile devices to access CJIS systems requires MDM software and centralized administration. An MDM solution can guarantee the following security features and their compliance with CJIS system regulations:
- Remote locking — Prevents a device from being accessed if it is lost or stolen.
- Remote wiping — Erases all software and data from a device.
- Setting and locking device configuration — MDM system loads configuration onto the device, along with settings to prevent configuration changes.
- Detection of “rooted” and “jailbroken” devices — Detects when operating system and restricted settings have been accessed and/or changed.
- Enforcement of folder or disk level encryption — Ensures that data encryption is in place at the proper level.
- Application of mandatory policy settings on the device — Establishes security policies across all settings before device deployment.
- Detection of unauthorized configuration — Continuous monitoring to identify configuration changes or unallowed settings.
- Detection of unauthorized software — Identifies the installation and/or presence of unauthorized software or applications on the device.
- Device location detection — Ability to locate any device at any time using GPS.
- Prevention of unpatched devices from accessing CJI or CJI systems — Verifies that all operating system and software patches have been applied, and establishes settings that prevent unpatched devices from accessing CJIS systems
- Automatic device wiping after access failure: Monitors device access attempts (attempts to enter a passcode or use biometric identity), counts them, and automatically wipes the device as specified when that number is exceeded
Simplifying Device Deployment and Management
The critical nature of law enforcement requires that preparation, support, and troubleshooting of mobile devices can happen quickly to prevent downtime in the field. MDM software streamlines device deployment by storing policy-based and role-based settings and system images, using them to automatically configure new devices with the appropriate user IDs, operating system updates and apps, as well as connectivity, security, and other configurations.
In addition to device provisioning, MDM device management functions include:
- Mobile asset inventory management to record and track deployment of all devices
- Remote diagnostics and troubleshooting tools for identifying and resolving issues that occur in the field to prevent downtime
- Backup and restoration of data stored on the device
- Monitoring network usage and troubleshooting connectivity issues
- Logging, audit trail, and reporting of device use and issues
- Adding or removing devices from the system
What to Look for in an MDM Provider
CJIS compliance—the ability to meet all CJIS requirements and pass an audit—is a must for any law enforcement MDM system. That should be your first screening differentiator.
Law enforcement agencies should look for an MDM software vendor that supports both Windows and Android operating systems (OS), as well as over the air (OTA) deployments for each one, to ensure compatibility with the broadest range of devices. Multi-OS compatibility prevents vendor lock-in on mobile devices and enables support for squad car laptops and convertibles, as well as tablets and handhelds. Some vendors, such as SOTI, offer additional support for mobile printers, cameras, and various IoT devices as part of their MDM software solution.
Beyond compliance and device compatibility concerns, look for an MDM that also offers dashboards, reports, and implementation tools that make it easy to monitor, manage, and report on the fleet of devices under agency control.
Lastly, look for a provider that supports the best implementation method for your department, whether that means on-premise on your server and managed by your organization, hosted and managed by the provider, or in the cloud as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). The latter option makes advanced capabilities accessible by even small departments. However, there is one caveat—make sure the vendor’s hosted or cloud data centers are also CJIS compliant if you plan to access CJIS data.
Mobile device management is essential to protecting law enforcement officers in the field, where lives are on the line. So are the rugged mobile devices you deploy. Combining efficient rugged mobile devices with advanced MDM capabilities can help you increase situational awareness, improve productivity, and enhance accountability. The Panasonic TOUGHBOOK® line of products offers a full spectrum of rugged mobile solutions for law enforcement.