IT managers at small and midsized businesses (SMBs) understand the importance of mobile device security: A recent NetEnrich survey of IT professional reports that 68 percent of respondents rank protecting against security breaches as one of the top goals surrounding mobility. At the same time, cost factors are an ever-present consideration in managing the smartphone inventory.

In balancing these concerns, it’s important to select a line of mobile devices from a trusted, reputable company, despite the temptation to go with a provider that might be cheaper, but is less well-known or trusted. As SMB decision-makers struggle to manage the cost of mobile device inventories, they must also consider the security landscape before purchasing discount smartphones for employees. In order to balance cost, security and convenience, SMBs need an all-in-solution that includes both device protection and cloud management solutions.

Balancing Budget and Security

With corporate-liable devices becoming popular again, IT leaders need to think about how to balance security and affordability. To do this, it’s helpful to first ask some basic questions about mobile device security, such as the reputation of the smartphone manufacturer and the specific security safeguards that are present at the firmware level. Other questions decision-makers should ask before purchasing mobile solutions for their SMB include:

  • Is device authentication able to be enforced? In order to promote good mobile security habits among all employees, make sure your devices offer security protocols such as password, pin or biometric authentication by default. With proper MDM controls in place, users will be required to implement fundamental password protection. To ensure adequate security, passwords should be complex and hard to guess. There are other convenient ways to authenticate devices that can also be enforced via policy, such as fingerprint scanning or two-factor verification, which offers another layer of security.
  • Is encryption inherent? Encryption is a fundamental security tool used to obscure data from prying eyes, preventing unauthorized users from being able to read the contents of a device. Encryption can be a key safeguard in protecting corporate information, yet not all phones encrypt network communications automatically or fully.
  • How does the device update? Will users receive notifications when updates are due? Updates are critical to keeping smartphones secure and apps current in their defenses against a range of evolving threats. However, not all manufacturers make this process seamless or transparent.
  • How are apps permissions managed? Understanding how apps are managed is crucial, because it’s possible for apps to request a range of potentially sensitive functionality. Apps permissions may include the ability to read and change contacts, modify or delete USB storage or read sensitive log data. For some apps, these are helpful and needed abilities; in other cases, corporate managers may wish to limit the breadth and type of access available. Apps permissions should be transparent in secure smartphones, and IT leaders should be able to easily limit permissions based on corporate policy. Samsung devices that have Knox with SE Android provide Mandatory Access Control (MAC) policies, which restrict app access to only the required system resources.

Multilayered Device Security

Perhaps most importantly, it’s important to ensure your smartphones have a security ecosystem present — an end-to-end stream of protocols that ensures device security. Samsung Knox, which received the most “Strong” ratings of any mobile security platform in a recent Gartner report, takes a multilayered approach, designed with security in mind at all levels, rather than the “bolted on” approach of other platforms. Devices secured with Samsung Knox are manufactured and configured in Samsung’s own factories, which ensures continuous safeguards over both hardware and software. Optional solutions like Knox Workspace offer containerization for separating corporate data from personal content.

For SMB decision-makers, it’s critical to know that not all devices are created equal. Buying budget smartphones from lesser known manufacturers may pose a real risk to personal and enterprise security. To avoid such risks, SMBs need an all-in-one solution that protects devices while also providing a cloud-based EMM or MDM that makes them easy to deploy and manage. One such example is Samsung’s Knox Premium, which addresses the needs of SMBs by offering both a container solution and a low-cost, cross-platform enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution. When small business decision-makers invest in solutions that combine security, managment and ease-of-use, they’ll increase employee productivity and boost overall efficiency.

When security is kept top of mind, smartphones can boost business productivity and employee collaboration.