One of the less exciting (but still important) announcements at Google I/O 2014 was that Google will be adopting part of Samsung KNOX as a security platform in Android itself. KNOX, which is currently only on Samsung devices, is a business-oriented security solution that keeps work and personal data separate and secure on a single device. Sounds pretty good, right? Not to BlackBerry CEO John Chen, but you know what is good enough?
We've heard that Google intended to really make a push for greater corporate adoption with the L release, and the company touched on some of its plans in today's keynote. It confirmed that Android will empower companies to separate personal data from work data using containers without outside companies having to apply additional code to their devices. Interestingly, this comes thanks in part to Samsung, which has contributed some of its KNOX code to the next version of Android.
Samsung has announced a slew of improvements to its KNOX enterprise security product at this year's Mobile World Congress. For starters, users can now manage two separate secure containers per device, ideal for consultants with multiple clients or people who just want to better separate work data from personal files.
The total list of changes goes much deeper.
- Two separate secure containers per device, for example, for consultants who work for several companies or doctors who work for several clinics.
Described by the Wall Street Journal as "a vulnerability that could allow malicious software to track emails and record data communications," a potential vulnerability in Samsung's Knox platform was discovered in late December by researchers at Israel's Ben-Gurion University. The researchers said the vulnerability would allow those with malicious intent to "easily intercept" secure data from Knox users. Samsung's initial response was that the problem may be less serious than researchers implied, and that it would investigate the situation thoroughly.
Samsung has been rolling out Galaxy Gear support to additional devices since the end of October, lumping the functionality in with updates to Android 4.3. A leaked schedule provided a timeline of when to expect various Galaxy handsets across the big four American carriers to get updated, and many OTAs started rolling out right on schedule. Others have not. The AT&T Galaxy Note II's update has been somewhat of a tortoise, but it may soon cross the finish line, as the long-awaited OTA is finally inbound.
When a tech company holds a conference for developers, you can pretty much bet the speakers will have something new to share with the attendees. At the very first Samsung Developer Conference, this pattern continues as 5 new and updated SDKs have been announced for the company's various platforms. This batch of SDKs are centered on Android, Smart TVs, and enterprise development.
- Samsung Smart TV SDK
- Samsung Multiscreen SDK
- Samsung Multiscreen Gaming SDK
- Samsung KNOX SDK
- Samsung Mobile SDK
The Mobile SDK is technically new, but it's really meant to bring together various TouchWiz SDKs that had previously been distributed separately.
These days, it seems like everybody is trying to make Android more secure. As usual, rooting and modding are often casualties of this effort. Just over a month ago Android 4.3 broke the existing model for root, forcing updates to existing methods, and now Samsung is rolling out updated Android 4.2.2 firmwares for the Galaxy S 4 which fully enable the company's heavily secured KNOX environment. Fortunately, Chainfire is already on top of it and has updated his popular root software, SuperSU, to be compatible with the new system.
Samsung KNOX separates data and apps into containers, making it difficult for malware or intruders to gain access or cause damage where they aren't wanted, and it is integrated to a device's hardware and each individual level of the Android framework, making it a full-coverage solution. The software has been available to enterprises for some time now, alleviating concerns that Android isn't secure enough to protect corporate data and communications.
Pick up that Galaxy S4 that is totally not going to explode and give it a glance. Sprint customers might just see the MF9 update begging for attention. Don't expect anything too major here, but after the download is complete, your phones should support installing apps from the Play Store onto MicroSD cards. Other niceties include HD Voice enhancements and additional wallpapers.
This is an OTA update, so there's no need to whip out the USB cable and fire up Kies.
The push for BYOD (bring your own device) policies in workplaces has been on the rise for the last couple of years, but many corporations have frowned upon Android devices due to "security issues" within the OS. Samsung is looking to change that mindset with its newly-announced KNOX solution.
Essentially, KNOX is a security-enhanced version of Android – based on the NSA-approved SE Linux – optimized for Samsung's SAFE (Samsung for Enterprise) program.