Samsung Enterprise Services Is Latest Effort to Secure BlackBerry's Customers

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2014-01-07

Samsung Enterprise Services Is Latest Effort to Secure BlackBerry's Customers

Samsung continues its aggressive pursuit of enterprise customers with the Jan. 6 introduction of Samsung Enterprise Services, a portfolio of services to support customers through the life of a mobile device deployment.

The offering will integrate with Samsung's existing enterprise offerings, including the Knox security platform.

With Enterprise Services, Samsung has moved into two new partnerships. It will work with Digital Management to offer a "range of mobile enterprise services including initial needs assessment, device configuration and migration, deployment and development of customized services," it said in a statement. Additionally, with rugged case maker OtterBox, Samsung plans to create a portfolio of accessories for its enterprise customers.

Samsung's customers are deploying between hundreds and tens of thousands of "highly sought-after" devices, Tim Wagner, vice president and general manager of Samsung Mobile's Enterprise Business Unit, said in a statement. "For those customers, an investment in a mobile initiative is much greater than just the cost of purchasing the devices. They require the very best in security, solutions and services, which we can now seamlessly deliver via Samsung Knox, the Samsung Solutions Exchange and Samsung Enterprise Services."

The Fight for the Enterprise

As BlackBerry has continued to slip down the smartphone market-share slope—undone by the popularity of first the Apple iPhone and then Android smartphones, which have made their way into once BlackBerry-loyal enterprises—Samsung has been clear about its ambitions to be the next go-to solution provider for enterprises.

In January 2012, Samsung introduced SAFE, or Samsung Safe for the Enterprise, a certification that adds a suite of security features and "enterprise-friendly capabilities" to those included in the Android platform.

Just over a year later, it introduced Knox, a solution that puts enterprise applications, documents and other security-sensitive content into a secure "container" on a device, containing a separation between personal and business content.

Samsung described Knox as offering enterprise-grade security at the platform level and relieving app developers from the burden of developing individual enterprise features, such as FIPS-compliant VPN, on-device encryption, Smart Card-based multifactor authentication and other security safeguards.

The Samsung Galaxy S 4 was the first smartphone to include both SAFE and Knox technologies.

In December 2013, security researchers at the Cyber Security Labs at Ben-Gurion University in Israel discovered a flaw in Knox that they said could make it easy to intercept data communications—including emails, files and browser activity—from the secure container. The flaw, said the researchers, only affects the Galaxy S 4.

Samsung hasn't publicly addressed the finding.

Blue Hill Research called Knox a "complete flop" in a Dec. 31, 2013 blog post.

The first reason for this, wrote Blue Hill CEO Ralph Rodriguez, is that it only works on Samsung Galaxy devices; the second is that it suffers from a "Not Invented Here syndrome," or basically a distrust of its South Korean origins; and the third is that Samsung made the "cardinal mistake of software" by releasing vaporware.

Samsung Enterprise Services Is Latest Effort to Secure BlackBerry's Customers

Samsung positioned itself as a direct competitor to BlackBerry, which, for all its faults, "understands enterprise security policies and governmental concerns very well, and both the BlackBerry BES and Balance solutions are well understood by CIOs," wrote Rodriguez.

Further, he continued, nobody understands what Knox can do, beyond containerization, which put Samsung in competition with Good Technology, "but sadly without Good's Common Criteria Evaluation Assurance Level 4 Security."

BlackBerry, under new CEO John Chen, is cutting its losses and building on its strengths. Chen told enterprise customers in a Nov. 13 blog post that the new BlackBerry will focus on four areas: handsets, enterprise mobility management, cross-platform messaging and embedded systems.

"Just as important, we will continue to invest in enterprise and security-related R&D during our restructuring period," Chen added.

The same day that Samsung made its announcement, Chen, at the Consumer Electronics Show Government (CESG), an event held alongside CES, announced that BlackBerry is investing in a new security innovation center in Washington, D.C.

"We are committed to working with government and industry experts to solve some of the biggest challenges we face in securing mobile communication," Chen said during a Jan. 6 speech at CES Government. "The Washington, D.C.-based security innovation center will be focused on creating lasting partnerships that will encourage ongoing dialogue aimed at making better products and policy."

Additional details about the center will be revealed in the coming weeks, BlackBerry said in a statement.

Follow Michelle Maisto on Twitter.

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