Most small businesses already make use of smartphones and tablets for on-the-go access to email, calendars and address books. With cloud-based services from giants like Microsoft and Google, and easy setup within Android and iOS, smartphones are an obvious computing add-on for small business users who want to stay connected wherever they are. In some cases, small businesses have even gone mobile-only for certain employees, completely replacing bulky laptops or bulkier desktops with smartphones and tablets.
But there’s a hitch: Mixing work and personal data on the same smartphone makes some small business owners justifiably uneasy. They know how easy it is for a phone to fall into the wrong hands — whether a curious child, a pickpocket or a less-than-scrupulous lost and found attendant. Small businesses may have smaller secrets, but that doesn’t make them any less critical.
There’s no one silver bullet to solve all security problems, but Samsung Knox mobile security suite includes a variety of options that even small business owners can utilize. Samsung’s Secure Folder is one of the most useful tools, as it allows users to securely segment their smartphone by protecting and isolating business applications and their data at no extra cost.
Ease of use
For example, with Secure Folder, you can have two copies of your social media accounts running, each logged in as a different user, with no way for someone to jump to the Secure Folder account without unlocking Secure Folder. A user could have their personal account outside of the folder, and their business or professional account inside, reducing the likelihood of mixing up the two.
When Secure Folder is installed, the environment is locked up with a pass code PIN (or pattern, although that’s less secure). Without the pass code, all of the Secure Folder data is inaccessible because it is encrypted on the local phone storage. When the pass code (or, if available, a biometric authentication such as a fingerprint or iris scan) is entered, the Secure Folder is unlocked.
Secure Folder can be used to protect applications (and the local application data) or just file data, such as a group of photos. Generally, Secure Folder data does not mix with data outside of the Secure Folder, although there are two important exceptions: contacts and calendar. If allowed by the phone’s settings, the contacts and calendar applications have a unified view. If you’ve got your personal calendar local to the phone and your business calendar synchronized using Exchange, Secure Folder’s calendar sharing lets you see both sets of events on a single screen. You can’t edit events and contacts across the Secure Folder boundary, but at least you won’t be late for a meeting because you were looking at the wrong calendar.
Safety at the core
On Samsung phones with Knox security hardware, Secure Folder encryption information is all stored in the TrustZone, a separate computing environment that is completely isolated from the main phone CPU. This means that even if malware takes over the personal side of the phone, it can’t get access to the Secure Folder keys. This provides another level of protection for Secure Folder data.
Secure Folder applications look the same as any other smartphone application: They’re just as fast, and just as easy to use. But there’s a barrier between Secure Folder applications and the rest of the phone, and you can only move things across that barrier by deliberately importing to or exporting from Secure Folder. Small business users can easily protect their work applications by moving (or making a copy of) business applications into Secure Folder. Even if the phone itself is unlocked, the application and all of its local data are encrypted and unavailable until Secure Folder is also unlocked. Secure Folder also allows individual items to be protected — photos, for example, can be moved into the Secure Folder where they will be encrypted and invisible.
Secure Folder’s protections go beyond encryption of data. With a free Samsung account, Secure Folder can automatically back up protected data to the cloud, offering additional insurance against a lost, damaged or stolen device.
Small and midsized businesses download Secure Folder directly from Google Play.