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The whole transition to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) that stemmed from the consumer’s passion for their smartphones and later migrated to tablets created a major challenge to the enterprise IT community.

How do you allow workers to use consumer devices in a business environment while also protecting the security of the network and its data?

The major players in the operating system world—Apple iOS, Microsoft Windows, and Google Android—initially focused on the consumer market. As the BYOD crossover gained acceptance (or, at least, tolerance) by employers, the demand for an enterprise-class mobile OS has pushed the companies to rethink, revamp, and relaunch.

  • Android leads the competition with an 59.65 percent market share worldwide.
  • Apple follows with 32.28 percent,
  • and Windows Phone barely makes the cut with 2.57 percent.

Google Android is the clear leader in the enterprise space, although some critics say it’s not secure enough.

That was then. This is now.

Samsung and Zebra have both recognized the value of upgrading Android for enterprise use.
The two mobile technology leaders have targeted the the downside of Android’s major flaws for the business user: data security and device fragmentation.
Historically, Android’s open platform has left gaping holes for hackers to slip into a network and wreak malware havoc. In addition, as the population of mobile devices continues to grow, users of antiquated smartphones and tablets (i.e., more than a year old) aren’t updating their operating system. In fact, only 12 percent of users had installed Android 5.0 Lollipop, as of last year; 39 percent were running KitKat 4.4, and almost half (49 percent) still hung onto Jelly Bean 4.3.
How can you protect your network when your users are still in the dark ages of pre-enterprise OS? A hacker can expose a vulnerability in an earlier version and launch a malware attack, striking a majority of the Android users.

Luckily, someone is looking at this problem.

Samsung just released the Galaxy S7 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month, an enterprise-level device that leverages the latest Android OS: Marshmallow. Aside from the fact that Google’s penchant for naming their technology after sweets totally eludes me, Marshmallow is anything but soft and mushy. The latest OS—replacing last year’s OS-du-jour, Lollipop, which replaced KitKat, which replaced Jelly Bean (my teeth hurt)—was developed with the enterprise in mind. Marshmallow delivers:

  • enhanced connectivity
  • more storage options
  • and improved battery management

It can now utilize Android’s tighter controls for device management, expedite fleet deployment, and gain better visibility of data usage.

Security Features with KNOX

The Samsung G7 takes Marshmallow’s security improvements to a higher degree. Extended Samsung KNOX Workspace security will disable a user’s access if the device is tampered with. The Secure Boot mechanism protects the network from a compromised device by disabling access when it detects an attack. Trusted Boot extends that security feature to guarantee kernel integrity. KNOX’s Real-Time Kernel Protection (RKP) protects the data even after system data is compromised. KNOX also delivers a theft recovery protection layer, which remotely locks and deletes data on lost or stolen devices.
Zebra, a company that plays heavily in the ruggedized, commercial space, favors Android as an enterprise OS, but they have seen that the consumer version doesn’t make the grade. When they acquired Motorola Solutions, they inherited that company’s Mobility Extensions (Mx), a suite of tools that elevates the commoner’s version of Android to an enterprise superhero.
Mx, which comes pre-loaded on Zebra’s purpose-built, mobile devices at no extra charge, delivers similar security strengths to KNOX: increased connectivity options, tighter security controls, enhanced device and app management, and data capture.
Is Android ready for the enterprise? With Marshmallow, KNOX, and Mx, the answer is a resounding, “Yes!”
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