San Francisco-based Lookout Mobile Security announced Tuesday that it was selected by Samsung to be a global partner for its Knox platform, a move that security experts say is not likely to remain exclusive to any security vendor.
"Samsung Knox is setting a standard for enterprise security on Android, and we’re thrilled Samsung selected Lookout to take Knox business security to the next level," said John Hering, co-founder and CEO of Lookout. "Wherever Knox will be, Lookout will be there, too."
Samsung unveiled Knox in February at the Mobile World Congress 2013 as part of its response to the rising concern over mobile threats to Android devices. In an effort to boost security of its devices, Samsung works with security firms to create a separation at the application layer between work-related data and personal data. Knox is currently supported on Galaxy S4 devices. Personal data and work data remain separated on different partitions on the device.
In a blog entry announcing the partnership, Hering said the strategic relationship with Samsung is an important part of Lookout's expansion into business security. Lookout for Business is due out later this year, Hering said.
"Lookout’s expansion into business comes at a critical time and the security stakes are now higher," Hering wrote. "Thousands of businesses have approached us asking how they can get Lookout Mobile Security for their business needs. Our business users want the same level of mobile threat protection our consumer products offer."
Lookout's partnership may not be exclusive. Samsung has relationships with a variety of security vendors under its Knox security strategy, and antivirus vendors can build in support for the platform. Samsung partners with Zscaler and Centrify for single sign-on for cloud, mobile and web applications. For example, Samsung is building in its own proprietary method of forwarding traffic to the Zscaler cloud.
In addition, mobile device management vendors have come out in support of the Knox platform, including Absolute Software, AirWatch, Citrix, MobileIron and others. Samsung also partners with Fixmo for use of its Sentinel system integrity technology and Mocana for its mobileVPN technology.
Awareness of Samsung Knox is low among businesses, but as the strategy matures, interest should rise, said Peter Firstbrook, a research vice president at Gartner. Samsung is making Android a standard for its devices and Samsung hopes to be a standard for security in enterprise deployments, Firstbrook said.
What may be a challenge for Samsung is whether its strategy to create a distinct work persona, separating it from a user's personal content, will be embraced by end users, Firstbrook said. Device owners may not be used to having completely separate environments, he said.
"Samsung recognizes that Android is weak in security, and its biggest problem is in the enterprise," Firstbrook said. "They want to feed some of this security back into the Android community and hopefully build a more secure ecosystem and app environment so everyone can benefit from it."
Samsung's security message may be getting through. In May, the Department of Defense approved Samsung Knox-enabled devices for employee use. The DOD also approved Apple iOS and the latest BlackBerry devices for use by employees.
Gartner analysts say the market for securing mobile devices is in its infancy and in a state of change. Vendors in the mobile device management market that succeed will likely focus on mobile application security and containerization technologies, Gartner said.
PUBLISHED SEPT. 4, 2013