While predominately offering new consumer-focused features, the forthcoming Android 12 for Enterprise has also markedly streamlined security and privacy to make management even easier for its users.
Streamlined security and Privacy
Android 12 will have a new Privacy Dashboard, providing a quick and clear overview of which apps have recently accessed sensitive data and sources like location, microphone, Bluetooth, etc. and change those permissions quickly and easily. It will also obscure user location for specific apps so they will not have access to an exact location, thus protecting user privacy while still allowing said apps to work.
Android 12 as also implemented some changes that need to be considered from an enterprise perspective to ensure a smooth transition and maintain security and control.
Managing Devices with Android 12
With Android 12, their three types of management modes remain identical:
Android Enterprise with Work Profile:
For Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) deployments where the device is personally owned. Allows user to use their personal device at work, access their work mail, apps, etc. without compromising security.
Android Enterprise Fully Managed:
For Corporate Owned Business Only (COBO) deployments where full control over device and data is required with little to no room for private usage. Typically for regulated environments (Federal administration, government, etc.)
Enhanced Work Profile (EWP):
For Corporate Owned Personally Enabled (COPE) deployments where device belongs to the company and is fully enterprise-managed/controlled but leaves the user with a wall-garden for their private apps and data, providing a good balance between BYOD and COBO without compromising corporate data security. It was introduced with Android 11 to replace Android Enterprise Fully Managed with Work Profile.
However, there are relevant security and privacy enhancements available for all of them.
Work Profile devices
Refers to both personal and corporate owned devices with a Work profile:
- New enrollment-specific ID will be used to uniquely identify a Work profile enrollment within a specific organization, for both private or corporate-owned devices, and will remain unchanged even after a factory reset/wipe. This will help avoid device records duplication while still allowing to keep track of devices across enrollments, ensuring easier and more accurate lifecycle management. Additionally, for privacy reasons, access to other device-unique hardware identifiers (e.g., IMEI, MEID, serial number) will be removed for personal devices, ensuring these identifiers will never be visible nor stored on any corporate system, such as UEM solution software.
Specific permissions to access sensitive data source can be granted for each Work profile app by the end-user, unless explicitly denied by their IT administrator. These include location, camera, microphone, body sensor, and physical activity.
- USB can be now disabled by the IT administrator, except for charging functions, to try to avoid any possible data leak or malicious attack through this point of entry (read our article here for more information about security risks associated with USB)
Other enterprise features
Not specific to either management mode or ownership type:
- Privacy and transparency enhancements: Allow IT administrator to decide whether to manage or opt out of managing sensor-related permissions for fully managed devices, leaving the user to be
prompt and accept/deny permission when apps are first used; IT administrator can always deny permissions.
- Network configuration: Device Policy Controller (DPC), which is the software piece on the device that allows you to manage Android Enterprise devices using an EMM/UEM solution software, can now retrieve a list of configured Wi-Fi networks without requiring the Location permission. On personal devices, only Work networks are retrieved; on fully managed devices, DPC can additionally ensure that only corporate-approved networks are configured.
Which devices will support it?
The first supported device will be the upcoming Pixel 6 and the upgrade to the existing Google Pixel phone lineup. Other Android devices will get their Android 12 updates pushed out as it becomes available pending OEM and carrier approval throughout the year.
(C) Rémi Frédéric Keusseyan, Global Head of Training, ISEC7 Group