Samsung to Add Lookout Mobile Security to Its Android Devices for Enterprise Customers

September 4, 2013 - Written By Lucian Armasu

Samsung has hinted a while ago that they are serious about going into the enterprise market with its flagship devices, and they’ve launched security solutions and services like Knox and SAFE. Now, Lookout has confirmed that they are partnering with Samsung to integrate their security app with all Samsung devices that support Knox, which means this deal is only for Samsung’s enterprise customers.

Samsung seems to be promoting this as an “anti-virus” for Android malware, which I think doesn’t make a lot of sense, especially when its target market is business customers. It makes me believe that Samsung is doing this as “secure theatre”, for their customers, who probably don’t know any better, and actually believe this sort of app will protect them against malware, so they will be willing to pay more for it.

Here’s why I don’t think it makes sense. Enterprise customers are going to use their very locked-down environments on these phones, thanks to Knox, and they will only be able to use certain apps. They won’t be able to just use any app from the Play Store, let alone installing apps from pirated apps sites, which is where the vast majority of “malware” comes from.

Plus, most of the malware-infected apps are downloaded in China. So when “Android anti-virus” makers say that a certain amount of malware exists on Android, they don’t really mean globally, because 99 percent of those malware cases will happen in China. Of course they usually “forget” to mention that, because they want everyone to use their apps, not just the Chinese.

It’s hard enough for someone not living in China to get malware on their Android phone, and it’s going to be next to impossible for an enterprise customer to get it, because as I said, they’re not going to sideload apps from pirated sites. They will only use pre-approved custom apps that will also live in highly secured environments on that Android phone, with very limited permissions.

This is why Samsung deciding to add this for their enterprise customers seems so puzzling, and more like security theatre to me, because in the end I think they are doing it just to be able to charge their customers more, even if it doesn’t help them at all. It seems that what’s important is to make them “feel” more secure.

I think this is unfortunate, because it also seems to follow Samsung’s latest trend of adding a lot of “stuff” to their Android devices, that don’t really help users, but may “sound” cool or good for them, but in the end just end up wasting space.