Looking to beef up its appeal to business users, a realm once dominated by the BlackBerry platform, Samsung has inked a deal with San Francisco-based Lookout Software to add enterprise-level malware protection to its Android-powered connected mobile devices.
The company, founded in 2007, will join forces with Samsung's Knox security system to confront the growing challenges posed by employees bringing their own devices for work use, commonly known as BYOD, or "bring your own device."
A Critical Time
"Protection against mobile threats is essential in any workplace, especially a BYOD workplace," Lookout CEO John Hering wrote in a blog post announcing the deal. "The way that employees work on and use their devices has changed dramatically over the past few years.
"The mechanisms by which businesses were protected in the past don't work in a world where employees use a personal device in business and/or a business device in a personal context. Lookout's expansion into business comes at a critical time and the security stakes are now higher."
Although malware and viruses are generally better associated with PCs and laptops, Gartner Research, which estimates that one-third of companies in the United States now allow employees to use their own devices, projects that employee-owned devices will be infected by malware at almost double the rate of corporate-owned devices.
Chester Wisniewski, a Canada-based analyst for global cybersecurity firm Sophos, said the Lookout protection is a wise precaution for businesses who allow BYOD.
"Malware for the Android platform is certainly less prevalent than for Windows-based computers," he said. "But that doesn't mean it is harmless. Any device that contains sensitive
information is a target for criminals, and with more and more businesses allowing employees to have important corporate information on their smartphones it is a genuine risk."
Wisniewski said the deal to strengthen Knox is "a smart move by Samsung to recognize the importance of mobile protection. This will give them a leg up on Apple in the minds of many IT professionals."
Partnering with Knox is a win for Lookout since Knox has been cleared by the U.S. Department of Defense for its employees, along with Apple's iOS.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reported in July that major government agencies and large companies have now given up accepting BYOD BlackBerry smartphones. They include the National Transportation Safety Board; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, the Times said.
BlackBerry devices and its secure messaging system were once the gold standard for enterprise security.
According to Lookout's Hering, 45 million people worldwide are using Lookout.
"This growth strengthens our security platform and sets the stage for us to expand and build security offerings for businesses and enterprises," he said.
Hering said the software will soon be available for other platforms.