MWC 2013: Samsung's Knox system takes BYOD fight to BlackBerry

MWC 2013: Samsung's Knox system takes BYOD fight to BlackBerry

Summary: Samsung hopes to attract more enterprise customers through the introduction of a new containerised security system called Knox for some of its Android-powered Galaxy smartphones.

SHARE:

Samsung will focus on signing up more enterprise customers for its Android-based smartphones with a new security system called Knox.

The South Korean handset manufacturer announced the security service at Mobile World Congress on Monday in response to the growing trend for employees to bring their own devices (BYOD) to work.

"BYOD has, naturally, introduced a variety of security issues to the enterprise, but the fact remains that businesses embracing this strategy are enjoying significant advantages over competitors, as well as a the benefits that come with a happy workforce," Simon Stanford, vice president of IM division at Samsung Electronics UK & Ireland, said in a statement.

To achieve a similar end as BlackBerry's balance system, Knox allows IT admins to keep employees' personal and work data completely separate by operating at the application layer level. Samsung said keeping the information separate helped mitigate the threat of data leakage, viruses and malware attacks.

The system, which incorporates an enhanced security version of Android developed by the National Security Agency (NSA), also supports integrity management services on a hardware and Android OS level. It will also play nicely with existing MDM, VPN and directory services, Samsung added.

"Easily accessible via an icon on the home screen, the Knox container offers a variety of enterprise applications in a secure environment, including email, browser, contacts, calendars, file sharing, collaboration, CRM and business intelligence applications," Samsung said in a statement.

Knox also enables existing Android ecosystem applications to achieve enterprise integration and validation automatically without needing to change the application source code.

The decision to focus on the enterprise will likely come as a worry for BlackBerry given Samsung's success with key members of Galaxy smartphone family.

Knox will be available on selected Samsung Galaxy devices in the UK "later this year", according to the company.

Topics: Samsung, Consumerization, Mobility, MWC, Security, Smartphones, Bring Your Own Device

Ben Woods

About Ben Woods

With several years' experience covering everything in the world of telecoms and mobility, Ben's your man if it involves a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other piece of tech small enough to carry around with you.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

6 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Android just doesn't have the chops.

    The key to the abilities of BlackBerry Balance lay in the micro kernel architecture of the QNX RTOS and that micro kernel architecture is something that Android just doesn't have (and never will without a complete rewrite of the OS itself). Now Samsung can make all kinds of spectacular claims, but the sad truth is that their implementation will just be a very poor copy of what BB10 accomplishes quite easily thanks to the nature of the underlying OS. Last week it was Samsung with "Safe Technology," now it's Samsung with "Knox" - sound like Samsung is desperately trying to make a silk purse out of a sows ear. Face it, Samsung, BlackBerry has spent many years perfecting the enterprise/security aspects of their business and you won't catch up with some coding tricks and a few catchy brand names.
    xenrobia
    • Re: Android just doesn't have the chops.

      Android is built on the Linux kernel, the most flexible kernel in the world. It has a built-in security manager, allowing you options like SELinux, military-strength MAC security developed by the NSA, no less.

      Can QNX claim to offer military-strength MAC security? Somehow I don't think so...
      ldo17
      • BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry 10 BES, & QNX does have the chops.

        The QNX® Neutrino® RTOS Secure Kernel delivers the OS that companies creating aerospace, defense and security systems need to be able to meet the stringent safety and security requirements of mission-critical applications.

        QNX will be more secure than any OS on the market. See the link below:

        http://www.qnx.com/products/neutrino-rtos/secure-kernel.html

        http://www.qnx.com/solutions/industries/defense.html

        http://us.blackberry.com/business/software/bes-10.html?LID=us:bb:software:businesssoftware:bes-10&LPOS=us:bb:software

        Android may be built on top of linux, that is true. But linux is not the problem, Android is the problem. Why spend the resources of modifying a Security Crippled OS (Android), when you can opt for BlackBerry 10 (based off of QNX) and use BlackBerry BES 10 which is proven. Let's not even get started on Apple's Security Vulnerabilities.
        BigMont
        • Thanks for trying

          "QNX will be more secure than any OS on the market."

          QNX is EAL 4+
          Wind River VxWorks MILS platform is EAL6
          Greenhills Integrity is EAL6+
          Sysgo AG PikeOS is EAL7
          KynxSecure Lynuxwork is designed to EAL7 with SABI eval in progress

          Just saying....
          2121212
          • your not right either

            Looks like you don't have it right. QNX 's EAL4+ rating is for the RTOS on top of various single and multi core CPUs. When hardware is involved beyond EAL4 is rarely if ever sought-after.

            Having a lower EAL does not mean it is less secure, only that it was not tested to higher standards. So, QNX felt it was important to go one step higher for their RTOS on top of hardware and achieve EAL4+.

            Looking at the OS list provided I picked the last one Lynn secure. It is a separation OS to separate other OS's (e.g. Windows) so is used to make environments safe. So it's apples to oranges comparison with QNX.

            As for military use, QNX powers the drones piloted in the US, but active overseas. So it is used in lethal engagement systems today.

            If memory serves me right, QNX is also based on a flavor of Unix. I believe it is SCO based.

            Sources:
            http://mil-embedded.com/articles/encryption-the-migration-cots-technologies/

            http://www.embedded.com/design/embedded/4219369/2/Building-in-RTOS-support-for-safety-security-critical-systems

            http://www.lynuxworks.com/virtualization/hypervisor.php

            http://www.qnx.com/news/pr_2871_1.html

            http://www.qnx.com/news/pr_3361_1.html
            bizdudePB
    • Two different things

      "Last week it was Samsung with Safe Technology, now it's Samsung with Knox"

      Knox is a secure OS
      Safe is an extended MDM capability.

      They are two different technologies and they address different areas of the mobile security context.
      2121212