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Mobile apps not in an app store, how can I use it?

July 01,2017 Update: See how System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) can handle mobile device “side-loading” in this YouTube video.

June 13, 2017 – secRMM has added a new utility called SafeSync. SafeSync lets you install mobile device apps and of course securely copy files to the mobile device.

Sometimes it makes sense to install a mobile app without going through the trouble of getting the mobile app published into the “app stores”. App stores are big databases accessible over the internet that let users select apps to install onto their mobile device. Anyone can access the app stores as long as the mobile device has an internet connection (using the devices WiFi and a hotspot or the cellular service providers network). Apple, Google and Microsoft have the biggest app stores. These software vendors offer apps for their mobile devices hardware and/or operating system. When you want an app to go into one of the app stores, you have to go through a process defined by the vendor before it can be published.

There are scenarios where an organization does not want to put their apps into the app stores. Mainly because they do not want just anyone to be able to use the apps. As an example, suppose the military were to develop some apps that helped them with field combat. Clearly, they would not want just anyone to be able to download their app from an app store. Another example is a company that writes apps for their workers to use. Perhaps the app has company sensitive information that needs to be protected from competitors.

For scenarios where you want to distribute a mobile app but do not want it in the app stores, a common and acceptable practice is install the app from another computer (commonly a Windows computer). The Windows computer and the mobile device cooperatively perform the install using a USB cable connection between them. The computer industry uses a slang term called “side-loading” to describe this process. The app (which is just a binary with a special extension) can reside on the Windows computers local hard drive or even on a network share (so many users can access it).
The secRMM SafeSync utility makes it easy to manage the side-loading process by providing a list of available apps which you can choose to install, uninstall or re-install.


In addition, the mobile app install or uninstall events get recorded so that security administrators can be aware of the activities. Because of secRMMs integration into System Center (and other backend monitoring systems), this event information can be included in the organizations security monitoring process.

SafeSync can also generate a script so that the install/uninstall/reinstall pattern can be repeated for many devices. SafeSync also exposes the mobile device properties which are important to understand and control before a device is deployed into the field. Lastly, SafeSync can copy files to the mobile device. These files might be data files that are used by the mobile apps. This allows a device to completely be prepared before it gets deployed into the field.
In summary, secRMM continues to help IT organizations and security professionals manage the events around removable storage and especially mobile technology.

Please feel free to contact Squadra Technologies to help with your security needs around removable storage and/or mobile device technology.  There is also a YouTube video about SafeSync at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2_ODEnr2XM.

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