Vendor screening is an important step that helps companies reduce their liability when working with subcontractors - helping companies mitigate contractual, fiscal, and compliance risks. According to PWC, 85% of consumers are not willing to do business with organizations if they have doubts about their security practices.
While enterprises were quick to adapt to new IT norms and the changing cybersecurity standards, small businesses were not. This has created a divide between what target clients want and what small-medium-sized vendors often provide, significantly hindering their growth over the long term.
Fortunately, there is a vast ecosystem of business solutions and tools designed to help small businesses pass vendor screenings. One of the most popular tools is Apple Business Manager and our Apple IT Consultants use it daily. In this guide, we’ll take a look at how SMBs leverage Apple Business Manager to improve their IT infrastructure and secure more clients.
Vendor Screenings and iMacs and Macbooks
Many companies now require SMBs to pass vendor security screenings, with audits being performed by independent auditors. If the auditors deem that the company’s IT guidelines, policies, and processes are not in line with the requirements of the organization, or fail to demonstrate mainstream IT security and compliance standards such as the NIST security framework, the company will most likely lose the lead.
Generally, SMBs can achieve IT compliance with third-party services like Azure Active Directory. However, things become much more complicated when Apple computers such as iMacs and Macbooks are involved. Due to their closed-loop design, Macs are incredible as personal devices but the same closed-loop nature inhibits their ability to play nice in a network. Setting up a compliant network of only Macs is difficult as it is, but adding PCs into the mix makes things even worse.
This is where Apple Business Manager comes in.
What is Apple Business Manager?
Apple Business Manager is a web-based portal designed for IT administrators. It is used for deploying all devices in the Apple ecosystem, including the iPad, iPhone, and Mac by IT administrators. Apple Business Manager integrates directly with the organization’s mobile device management solution, allowing IT administrators to seamlessly automate deployment, distribute content throughout multiple devices, and manage app purchases.
Essentially, it’s a platform that enables IT administrators to remotely monitor and configure devices to address the organization’s security and privacy concerns.
SMBs can use Apple Business Manager to:
- Remotely lock or wipe devices in case of a security event
- Monitor compliance with company policies related to encryption and app usage
- Deploy applications in bulk without physically interacting with the device
- Query content or device settings
- Update device settings remotely
The reason why we managed service providers use Apple Business Manager to help SMBs achieve compliance is that it is compatible with a host of IAM, EMM, and MDM solutions, including Microsoft’s suite of business apps.
How SMBs Use Apple Business Manager
Most small businesses will use Apple Business Manager with a platform like Azure AD for identity governance and access management as well as Microsoft InTune to bind and manage Mac devices and ensure that only relevant permissions are granted.
Organizations that rely on the Microsoft Azure Active Directory can also use federated authentication to seamlessly link the two. This way, employees can use their Azure AD login credentials to manage their Apple IDs as well.
Here are a few more detailed use cases of how SMBs can use Apple Business Manager to pass vendor screenings.
By default, Apple maintains certifications that are compliant with ISO/IEC 27001 and 27018 standards. These two standards specify the regulatory guidelines and requirements for implementing measures to protect any Personally Identifiable Information (PII). But by using Apple Business Manager with services like Azure Sentinel and Microsoft Cloud App Security (CASBE), small businesses can establish other common advanced compliance controls during client audits such as:
- Mandatory encryption
- Enforcement of data policies
- Extensive data logging and monitoring
Additionally, implementing this solution also puts small businesses in an excellent position to get PIPEDA, PIA, HIPAA, and GDPR compliance. Compliance with these standards is becoming essential for smaller businesses.
Since almost every small business uses Apple computers in some form, using Apple Business Manager allows organizations to easily address their regulatory obligations without issuing new devices. The certifications offered by the Apple Business Manager also serve as a third-party attestation for organizations, which could play an important role in whether they pass vendor screenings or not.
Managing Devices, Documents, and User Roles
The Apple Business Manager allows IT administrators in organizations to remotely manage devices, content, and applications.
It also allows organizations to set MDM servers as default and assign devices to different servers based on order or serial numbers. During vendor screenings, this important point is commonly raised. With Apple Business Manager, organizations essentially add a layer of security to their existing network. It also indicates the organization’s willingness to adapt to security risks and take steps to mitigate them.
Enhanced Internal Controls
During a vendor screening, most organizations generally look at the internal controls in place. These are designed to gain a better understanding of the overall network security culture within the organization. Apple Business Manager allows businesses to incorporate additional security practices and add internal controls to improve security.
For instance, IT administrators can enforce FileVault to secure information on Mac devices. FileVault automatically encrypts data so unauthorized users cannot gain access to such information. More importantly, IT administrators can also classify certain files as containing sensitive information and implement additional security controls, including specific tags, encryption, watermarks, or removing permissions to allow file-sharing.
The use of such IT systems helps organizations meet their compliance requirements, but also offers additional benefits. For instance, when offboarding team members and their devices, a program like Apple Business Manager makes it easy for IT administrators to securely wipe their devices and prevent them from copying any sensitive data.
Using Apple Business Manager to Pass Vendor Screenings
Apple Business Manager is a must-have for organizations that primarily use Apple devices. It, along with a mobile device management solution, allows IT administrators to prepare devices before they are issued to employees. Most importantly, it also improves vendor confidence as they know that the company is taking the right steps to protect sensitive data.
These steps aren’t just beneficial for passing vendor screenings, but they also help organizations maintain stringent security practices and keep their data secure. Other benefits of using Apple Business Manager include:
- Having complete control over data
- Mitigating risk of data loss
- Preventing intentional or accidental data
- Onboarding and more importantly, offboard team members
- Eliminating the possibility of data loss through device theft
Wrapping up: Are Macs Bad for Business?
Macs are not inherently bad for business use. They are incredible devices with a well-developed ecosystem and many important benefits. For instance, Apple also reviews all custom apps before they are made available to specific accounts. This way, vendors or other parties affiliated with the business have third-party validation for applications, knowing they are all independently verified and their security has been checked thoroughly.
But once again, they are less flexible on a business network than PCs. Thankfully, as we’ve discussed in this guide, there are ways to ensure complete compliance and compatibility between Apple devices and vendor requirements.
It takes a bit more effort but one may argue that the additional time and money spent in set up pays dividends in increased productivity.
It is important to note, most SMBs do not have an IT team to correctly deploy Apple Business Manager along with Microsoft Azure AD to secure employee devices and pass vendor screenings. This is why companies partner with managed IT services providers like TUCU to get things done, securely and on time. TUCU is a top-rated IT provider in Toronto, Canada.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can maximize productivity and security in remote working, reach out us for a free consultation today.