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Samsung amps up business push with Knox security software

Samsung is considering embedding Knox into its flagship mobile products for the first half.

BARCELONA, Spain--Samsung Electronics is getting serious about attacking the business world.

The South Korean consumer electronics giant unveiled Knox, an additional layer of security software that will run as part of its SAFE (Samsung for Enterprise) initiative. Samsung is considering embedding Knox into Samsung's next flagship smartphone, YH Lee, executive vice president of Samsung Mobile, told CNET.

Samsung considers the business world to be its next avenue of growth, and has already positioned its ads to emphasize the security and enterprise-ready aspects of its products. In doing so, Samsung is going after a business long dominated by BlackBerry, and which Apple has made tremendous strides in over the last few years.

SAFE is a program that Samsung has been quietly pushing for the last year or so, but the company has been steadily getting louder. Its "Unicorn Apocalypse" series of ads paint BlackBerrys as old and stodgy, and the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 as fully capable of handling the more rigorous demands of the business world.

Knox allows for a "container" system that separates personal and corporate data, and can also be used on applications. It also includes AES 256-bit encryption, the ability to create a virtual private network connection through a single app, improves the mobile device management controls, and works with hundreds of current IT policies.

Samsung said a Knox-enabled device is ready to work in government agencies, including ones in the defense department, and meet their security requirements. The software will be native to the operating system, and Samsung said it address all major security gaps in Android.

Samsung aims to hit BlackBerry where it hurts

Other companies, notably BlackBerry, have staked their reputations on their ability to protect critical government and corporate secrets. The new Blackberry 10 also offers the ability to split corporate and personal profiles in a system called BlackBerry Balance.

BlackBerry, for its part, doesn't feel threatened.

"Whatever any of our competitors announce, one thing won't change. The most secure mobile computing solution is a BlackBerry device running on a BlackBerry platform," said David J. Smith, executive vice president of mobile computing for the company.

BlackBerry touted the 3,500 North American businesses and government agencies evaluating BlackBerry 10, more than double the number from a month ago.

But Samsung believes it has a strong offering of its own, and may be able to nab some of BlackBerry's core customers.

"Our offering is very competitive," Lee said.