Samsung debuted Knox at Mobile World Congress in 2013, and announced that the revolutionary technology would be engineered into the Galaxy S4 smartphone released in April of that year.
Since then, Samsung Knox has become a key part of the architecture of every Galaxy smartphone, including the Galaxy Flex and Galaxy S10 5G, both announced leading into the 2019 MWC event in Barcelona.
We spoke with Nick Dawson, Director of Knox Strategy and Business Development, on the floor of MWC 2019. We asked him about the evolution of Samsung Knox, why it’s expanding beyond mobile, and what Samsung’s plans for its future were.
Q: Knox was first commercially available on the Samsung Galaxy S4 in 2014. Since its debut we’ve seen a number of updates, from new platform features to new mobile solutions. Why has Knox needed to evolve?
Nick Dawson: Well, it’s needed to evolve because our customers have evolved. One way of looking at it is, if you go back in time before the mobile revolution, we had IT departments that were used to managing computing environments in a certain way: Configure a device, lock it down, push out security patches.
And a lot of the Knox services we’ve built are designed to allow our customers, large and small, to be able to replicate that functionality in the mobile world. To be able to deploy devices for very, very specific use cases, to be able to experience their applications and services on the device, monitor and manage it, and then to manage the life cycle after it’s been deployed, with OS updates, security patches, etc.
So we continue to add more and more capabilities on an ongoing basis, to allow our customers to do more.
Q: The Knox IT solution suite seems ideal for large organizations with teams of IT administrators. But what about SMBs? Can Samsung Knox help them?
Nick Dawson: There absolutely is something we can do for small and medium businesses around the world as well.
Of course, when we first built Knox, it really was fairly IT heavy, large enterprise focused. There’s no doubt about that. However, over time we have been able to deliver a security platform that protects all of our users, even on the consumer side. My mother is protected exactly the same way as I am, working for one of the largest companies in the world, Samsung.
But our services have evolved, our portfolio of modular optional services —from configuration to deployment to management— have evolved to suit absolutely any use case. Large or small, it doesn’t matter.
And we love to hear from our customers. If we’re not doing something they need, I want to know about so we can build it.
Q: Is there an under-advertised Knox feature you’d like for more people to know about?
Nick Dawson: One of the under-advertised features about Knox is, a lot of people think that it’s this sort of enterprise-focused portfolio, or platform, whatever words you want to use to describe it. And it is that.
But the reality is, that core underlying security platform protects every single user of a Samsung device out of the box. Knox isn’t something that you buy or download or install. Knox security platform is built in, at the factory, into every device that we sell. It’s protecting my mother in Vancouver, British Columbia, the same way it protects me in Seoul, and the same way it protects our customers around the world.
I think that’s something we need to do a better job of explaining. We build the world’s most secure devices for everyone.
Q: We’ve seen Knox on Samsung phones since 2014. It then expanded into tablets and wearables such as the Galaxy Watch. Now it’s being engineered into TVs and household appliances. What is Samsung’s vision of the Knox ecosystem?
Nick Dawson: Our vision has always been to secure and then provide management infrastructure where it’s required for every single enterprise connected endpoint management. Obviously, it started with phones and tablets, and as you said, it has expanded out into wearables and into displays and other things.
But our vision is, over the next couple of years, any tool or device that we sell to an enterprise customer needs to have a core security platform in place, to trust the credentials of that piece of hardware, whatever it is and whatever it’s designed to do.
And then where we need to, we’ll build out the services to manage, configure, you know, as required. I don’t need to secure applications on a toaster. There aren’t any. But on a TV, or something else with a screen, maybe I do. And that’s our vision for Knox. To take it to every enterprise connected endpoint you can think of.
Q: Samsung has just announced two new exciting smartphones available this spring, the Galaxy S10, and the innovative Galaxy Fold. Were those devices also built on the Samsung Knox platform?
Nick Dawson: Absolutely. The security platform is built into all of the devices that we ship. And so those same protections that we built into all our devices for the past few years exist in the Galaxy S10 and the Galaxy Fold.
And in fact, whenever we do a major flagship device launch like the S series, we always come out with a new version of Knox, with updates to it which are then rolled out to all the other key market devices already out.
Q: Is there anything you’d like us to ask you about Samsung Knox that we haven’t?
Nick Dawson : There’s probably an awful lot of things about Knox I’d like to talk about!
But really, if I can give people a sense of one thing, is that, this isn’t complicated. It is something that is unique to Samsung, because we have the ability, at the chipset layer, to build a security infrastructure for everything that we do. So that we can offer better devices, better services to our customers, large and small, no matter what their vision is.
And it doesn’t need to be complicated. We’ve actually made it really easy to take advantage of these features in the platform. And we’d just love to talk to you! To understand your business and see how we can help.
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