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Security for Tablets: The Case for Samsung KNOX

Security | Posted on November 25, 2016 by Arun Kirupananthan

The Great Device Proliferation

Enterprises want to empower staff to decide how best to get their jobs done. This often means working hours, venues, and devices of their own choosing. Among workers, 61% report working away from the office at least part of the time. It’s not surprising the number of devices managed in the enterprise has increased 72% between 2014 and 2015. In fact, the average person now uses 3+ devices for work every day.[1]

For a growing number of workers, one of those devices is going to be a tablet. By 2018, 20% of all tablets shipped will be for enterprise workers.[2]  While the proliferation of tablets in the workplace offers many benefits, it also opens the door to a host of new security risks.

Going Beyond the Software 

As more workers use tablets under bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and corporate-owned, personally-enabled (COPE) programs, they put sensitive data at risk. Personal user-installed apps can introduce malicious software, ranging from spam to “man-in-the-middle” attacks. In this case, a hacker uses false certificates to intercept and insert themselves between a client (such as a tablet user) and the intended server (such as a company email server). From here, they can scan – and steal – any passing data in secret.

Tablets connected to public, unsecured Wi-Fi networks are open to more serious network-level hacks. Some users choose to “root” their devices – that is, enable top-level administrative system access –to customize the look-and-feel. But, this leaves the door open to future breaches. Root access privileges can allow a hacker to launch devastating intrusions into an enterprise network.

Security problems surrounding tablets go beyond the software. Many people treat tablets as casual devices. Users are more likely to use tablets than phones as second-screens while watching TV. Distraction can lead to human error, including leaks of information to unintended recipients. At the same time, tablets are portable and lightweight. This makes them ideal travel companions, but also leaves them vulnerable to theft. Physical access to a device by a malicious person can be a game-over scenario. But most users don’t take precautions to enable encryption for data-at-rest. Because tablets are often seen as interim devices between smartphones and computers, many users forget to take any precautions at all.

Ninety-percent of enterprises enforce pass code authentication, the most common device-level security policy. Regular training can prevent data leakage through malicious software and phishing scams. But, cyber-criminals are always at work inventing new ways to gain unauthorized access. Tablets are by no means immune. Manufacturers like Samsung are responding by protecting critical data at the hardware level.

The Dawn of Hardware-Level Security

Enterprise data can only be secured when system components have total protection from compromise. Software-level security measures rely on verification of cryptographic keys or signatures to decrypt enterprise data. Hardware-level security goes one step further by ensuring those keys are generated and verified against unique, unchangeable values stored in the physical device hardware.

Samsung tablets come factory-built with Samsung KNOX. The platform uses hardware-rooted containers to separate work apps and data from personal space. Encryption keys housed in the hardware region put the device on permanent lock-down if it detects intrusion. This puts sensitive data out of the reach of software-level attackers. The high difficulty of tampering with hardware circuits also keeps physical attackers at bay. Knox Workspace safeguards enterprise data using encryption. Enterprises can manage the Workspace using their Mobile Device Management (MDM) capability. The result is strong protection from intrusions on any Samsung phone or tablet device.

Hardware-level protection also means no compromise between data security and employee privacy. In the anytime, anywhere workplace, it lets employees use work tablets for personal tasks without sweating compromises to work data. And, it allows enterprises to breathe easier trusting their staff to work – and play – with the devices they prefer.



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