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Samsung's potential government deal signals new era for mobile security

Steve Ragan | July 22, 2013
Samsung may be ready to sign deals with the FBI and the U.S. Navy. Analysts say the news is proof that mobile in the enterprise has arrived. But what does this mean for IT operations?

Samsung is close to inking a deal with the FBI and the U.S. Navy for mobile devices --placing a foot into the door that was previously blocked by BlackBerry (formerly Research in Motion).

The news comes according to a report in The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the matter. According to the report, Samsung is negotiating a large deal with the FBI for devices, and hopes to land a smaller deal with the U.S. Navy. Terms of those deal proposals were not disclosed, but it's still a step forward. It's also evidence that Samsung wasted no time in attempting to gain some traction with the government since the Galaxy S2, S3, and S4, as well as the Galaxy Note, and Galaxy Note II were FIPS certified in April.

Samsung isn't the only vendor that's available to replace BlackBerry as a device vendor. Last October the Pentagon said that they were planning to open the doors and allow other device makers a chance to bid for business.

The announcement was a blow to BlackBerry. The Pentagon's plans hit BlackBerry after weeks of bad press, setbacks, and lackluster support for their software and devices. The Pentagon's announcement was then followed by one from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that they were replacing their BlackBerry devices with iPhones.

Once of the reasons cited by the Pentagon's move to open its doors to other device manufacturers was the need to support and use "new and innovative applications" in the military's evolving requirements. At the time, a spokesperson for the Defense Information Systems Agency said that while BlackBerry wasn't out of the picture, the DISA's planned mobile management capability that "will support a variety of mobility devices."

During an interview with CSO Online, David Goldschlag, the CEO of MobileSpaces -- a startup that focuses on securing both private and public apps on mobile devices, said the recent news is a good indicator that Apple and Google are meeting the security bar that BlackBerry set early on with IT administrators.

In addition, he added, since Google and Apple are both working to bake government-grade security into their products, this helps IT remain comfortable "with the use of these consumer-first devices in the enterprise."

"The mobile world has shifted from being email oriented to a more app centric user experience. With that comes increasing IT requirements for data protection against leakage and loss, because richer corporate data now resides on the mobile device that is of higher value and of higher risk than just email," Goldschlag explained.

Earlier this year, a report sponsored by EMC, VMware, Cisco, and Carahsoft, singled out the fact that federal employees were using personal devices for work and play. Because they're taking advantage of the consumerization aspects of IT, the various agencies' these workers represented were facing increased risk.


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