Samsung has just announced KNOX, a security solution for its Android smartphones that provides a secure container that completely separates data from work and life, giving the user complete control over his/her “private” data, while letting its company manage the “work” aspect remotely if they want to. KNOX (name inspired by Fort Knox) is part of Samsung’s SAFE (SAmsung For Enterprise) initiative that has been steadily gaining momentum, propelled by the continuing trend towards BYOD (bring your own device), the fall of Blackberry as a major enterprise mobility provider, and the rise of the Galaxy smartphones.
Samsung intends to make it simple for IT departments to evaluate, certify and deploy KNOX. For instance, once SAFE and KNOX have been certified as a platform, there is no need to re-certify each Samsung SAFE compatible device that users may want to use. Because users want the latest devices, and enterprises want security, Samsung sees a huge opportunity since Android is now 75% of the smartphone market, and Samsung is 50% of the Android smartphones sales as of late (in the USA).
Additionally, the container approach allows KNOX to provide protection, without asking developers to modify their programs, so the initial deployment friction is limited. Enterprises can choose among a wide variety of Mobile Device Management (MDM) options, and Samsung has an SDK that lets 3rd party plug into KNOX.
At the moment, Samsung has hinted that “high-end Galaxy devices” would get KNOX, but it has not committed to actually naming which ones. We are tempted to think about the next Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy Note 3, but at the moment, Samsung has yet to make it official.
SAFE and KNOX may help remove the perception that Android is “not secure enough”, and although the number of reported malwares keep climbing, most users (that I know) don’t consider this as a critical purchasing decision. What they may consider to be critical is whether or not their favorite device is approved by their company, and that’s how Samsung could further consolidate its strong position in the Android market, and raise the barrier of entry for everyone else, since this is really non-trivial to build and put in place.
Are you one of the many people who use their personal mobile device at work? Would you rather separate personal and work data completely and securely?