The Knox UK Agreement and the Future of Mobile Security

Last week, we posted a story about the Knox platform and its newly approved status as a ‘safe bet’ by a government standards group located in the UK.

After running into a stretch of problems during their bid to replace Blackberry with high-security clients like the Pentagon and the US Department of Defense, the new Samsung Knox 2.0 had officially impressed members of the UK’s Communications and Electronics Security Group (CESG), responsible for writing out the guidelines for how members of the party are approved to communicate with others in the public sector.

By enabling Knox whenever they’re at work or communicating about sensitive information with colleagues and turning it off for family members and friends, officials can now have one phone that does both jobs and free themselves from the two-phone lifestyle that’s become the norm in a town notorious for its overly-paranoid populous.

“Mobile device data security is a major focus for Samsung, and our KNOX technology provides a comprehensive solution for businesses and the public sector. We are pleased that our KNOX enabled devices have been cleared for use by the UK Government, and are confident given the period of intensive testing that the robust capabilities of KNOX act as a credible security solution for government agencies.

Our technology is widely used in both the UK public and private sector, and with this approval we are committed to working more closely with government departments and agencies that need to maintain high levels of security and data confidentiality on their mobile devices.”

Despite the setbacks, Knox is still one of the best contenders for mobile encryption solutions out there today, and we applaud Samsung for taking on the task of taming the infamously malware-happy Android platform.

Photo: Samsung

The S5 is the first (and only) device to feature Knox 2.0, and big contracts with the right people could mean massive profits for a company which has done pretty much everything necessary to dominate the mobile market for around the past five years or so.

Unlike the US, the UK will open its arms to the encryption method, and show Blackberry that if they don’t come up with some kind of a hail mary play soon, they may very well be standing on the leg of their last customer once the DoD eventually yields to the incoming Samsung onslaught.

Now the questions remains; isn’t this the direction all phones should be heading anyway? When you look for indicators we’re living in a post-Snowden world, you see people turning to encrypted connection services in droves, and hopefully the Knox platform can become another part of that.

People are now taking the security of their mobile devices just as seriously they do their laptops or home computers, and that’s a big leap from where we were just a few years ago before security was even a major concern for the biggest players in the game at the time (Apple and Motorola).

It’s comforting to think we’ve progressed to a point where this type of security is a standard feature people are asking for and using often, concerned not only about who might be listening in, but also the sanctity and security of the details of their private lives which are stored almost entirely on their mobile device these days.

However, just because a small sector of the government is taking the safety of its own employees to heart, doesn’t mean the rest of us aren’t still vulnerable to many of the same threats which have plagued both iOS and Android endlessly since both of their respective app stores hit the scene.

Kaspersky has claimed that a group of unknown developers had been tricking users of Windows Phones and Android handsets into downloading an app called “Kaspersky Mobile”, when in fact the antivirus software distributor had nothing to do with it from the get-go.

The app was actually designed to spread malware rather than prevent it, and only features a few dummy buttons to make those who download the program believe their phone is actively being protected from threats exactly like the one they’ve just unleashed on themselves by accident.

Photo: Google Play

There’s still a long way to go before we can say any phone is entirely safe, and it’s the job of the phone manufacturers to be sure they’ll keep our most private moments safe from anyone who might try to pull them out of our pockets in the dead of night.

Knox 2.0 and its biometric identification system are certainly a step in the right direction, but in the end the overall safety of your phone still comes down to responsible downloading practices and diligent maintenance of the data you keep stored on your device. There’s no replacement for simply knowing what programs are good and those that aren’t, and always being sure your settings are properly configured to monitor for any mobile threats that may come your way.