Don’t Put Your Work Email on Your Personal Phone

Mobile Device Management potentially gives your company the ability to spy on your location, your web browsing, and more

Owen Williams
Published in
5 min readJul 23, 2019
Credit: Klaus Vedfelt/DigitalVision/Getty

MMany of us have given up on the idea of carrying around a dedicated work phone. After all, why bother when you can get everything you need on your personal smartphone?

Here’s one reason: Your work account might be spying on you in the background.

When you add a work email address to your phone, you’ll likely be asked to install something called a Mobile Device Management (MDM) profile. Chances are, you’ll blindly accept it. (What other choice do you have?) MDM is set up by your company’s IT department to reach inside your phone in the background, allowing them to ensure your device is secure, know where it is, and remotely erase your data if the phone is stolen.

From your company’s perspective, there are obvious security reasons for installing an MDM on an employee’s phone. But for employees, it’s difficult to tell what these invisible profiles are collecting behind the scenes, as they provide people at your company with invisible control over your device. That’s why when it comes to your phone, no matter how much you trust your IT department, it’s a good idea to keep work and pleasure separate.

Peering into your life

MDM profiles, paired with device management tools, allow companies to track employee phones in a single dashboard. They can mitigate security breaches or potential harm from a rogue employee; if you work for a law firm, say, and your boss worries you’re leaking sensitive emails from your smartphone, they could remotely wipe your data. MDM profiles can also force you to use a long password on your device, rather than a simple PIN, among other policies.

Until the iPhone debuted over a decade ago and brought smartphones to the masses, it was common practice for companies to issue a corporate BlackBerry or Palm Pilot, allowing their employees to check email on the go, and do more work.

When the iPhone arrived, employees suddenly wanted to use their slick, new phones at the office, not the chunky…



Owen Williams

Fascinated by how code and design is shaping the world. I write about the why behind tech news. Design Manager in Tech.