A holistic approach to security: Self Service

You may think of Jamf's Self Service offering as a convenience, and perhaps an inventory-management and cost-savings tool. And you'd be right. But it's also a powerful security tool in guarding against third-party app breaches.

November 22 2022 by

Haddayr Copley-Woods

Self Service

What is Self Service?

Self Service from Jamf is a curated app catalog— a powerful way to manage and secure third-party apps. It's also a way to empower and equip employees on the spot with the productivity tools they need.

Self Service is obviously a great tool for saving end-users waiting time, and for saving IT time they could be focusing on other work rather than installing applications.

But it's a lot more than that.

Self Service as security tool

There are many ways that an organization's network and data can be compromised; one of the most risky is third parties. According to a September 2022 study by the Ponemon Institute, 59 percent of respondents reported third-party vendors have caused a data breach at their companies.

It's easy to see how this can happen; without automated device management, even conscientious IT staff choosing well-known and trustworthy apps can lose track of who has what apps and what state they are in. And if IT gives employees free rein, it's easy for staff to download apps from unsafe sources, leaving them (and, subsequently, your network) open to phishing attacks— as well as their devices open to malware.

Even if employees are carefully trained to avoid dangerous domains and untrustworthy sources, if IT doesn't know an app is on a device, they can't ensure it's the most recent version or that it's received important security patches in a timely fashion.

This leaves organizations open to attack, and businesses can't afford to ignore this risk.

Okay, then— why not shut down all outside apps?

For the vast majority of companies, this won't work. Re-creating common productivity apps like email, word processing and spreadsheet software simply is not feasible. And without industry-specific apps such as Adobe Suite for designers, Atom or Notepad++ for developers, or Salesforce for marketers— you won't get much done.

How about just shutting down most apps?

Or, perhaps just shutting down apps that allow certain activities that might feel risky such as messaging or filesharing?

Well, as Jamf CEO Dean Hager says, "People will find a way to be productive."

Most employees want to do a good job, and they want to get things done in an efficient manner. If your organization shuts down any way for employees to communicate in real-time from varying locations, or to quickly share files when working on projects together, employees will figure out a way. This often means that they disable security protocols that they see as getting in the way of their ability to work or that they use unsecured personal devices.

How does Self Service help secure devices and data?

When employees have access to fully-vetted and approved applications on demand, they are far more likely to download these apps for their work than similar ones that are possibly unsafe.

This means Apple administrators know which machines have what apps on them, and they can ensure that all apps are automatically patched and updated.

And employees can rest easy knowing that anything they download from Self Service has not only been fully vetted, but also continually and automatically monitored.

Self Service also allows IT to have more control over who uses which apps, which can help to protect devices and data along with permissions levels. Using Smart Groups, Apple admins can:

  • Personalize app access by department, language, user role or location
  • Integrate with directory services and cloud identity
  • Allow for requests for apps that aren't currently available

Employees receive real-time notifications for security enhancements and app updates, as well.

Self Service ensures that your organization has control over third-party apps and the potential risks that might arise. It also provides employees with flexibility, choice and a good user experience— without slowing them down or holding them back.


This post is one of a series on a holistic approach to security. See a roundup of all of the posts, or read one below:

Learn how Self Service can keep your employees safe and productive.

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