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Travel Industry Can't Ignore Security When Developing Mobile Strategy


by Glenn Gruber
Ness AVP Travel Technologies and Mobile Solutions

That Android devices are much more susceptible to malware attacks than Apple iOS devices is not breaking news. This has been a trend for quite some time. There have been many reasons proposed for this: Android’s “openness,” or perhaps Android users are generally less tech-savvy, or just because of the large target on Android’s back because of it’s leading global market share position.

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Photo Credit:  Carlos Varela on Flickr. Used under CC 2.0 license.

Ultimately, the real reasons are not important in the grand scheme of things. But companies must be at least cognizant of this fact when deciding whose mobile technology to deploy -- or when they let their users choose their own phones. For years, security was what made Blackberry the darling of IT departments everywhere.

Security, and the desire to penetrate corporate accounts is also what is driving Samsung’s Knox platform, though I do not like the schizoid manner in which they have implemented it.

So I wasn’t surprised when I saw that Apple hold 58% share of enterprise mobile deployments. What surprised me was the breakdown of mobile device adoption by industry compiled by Citrix.

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In Citrix’s Enterprise Mobility Cloud Report Q4 2012 (pdf), they question whether companies should be issuing malware-friendly devices to employees.

What jumped out at me was that Transportation was one of the few industries where Android had the majority share. While it’s impossible to tell exactly how Citrix defines “Transportation”, it at least should make airlines, hotels and other travel companies look at the strategies they have taken.

American Airlines is one of the most aggressive companies in the use of tablets for their workforce, issuing about 10,000 iPads for their pilots and about 17,000 Samsung Galaxy Notes for their flight attendants and 6,000 Galaxy Notes as in-flight entertainment devices as well as used by maintenance crew.

In an interview with CITEworld, Lisa Canada, American’s Managing Director of Operations Technology noted that Samsung’s SAFE - Samsung for Enterprise - platform (which incorporates Knox) was a key reason in their decision:

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Photo Credit: Ron Miller

"SAFE was one of several factors that influenced our selection of the device. The product provides increased administrative features and integration with MDM providers that can be used in our development and management of the device," Canada told CITEworld.

These types of mobile devices are likely to be used increasingly in the travel industry as companies look for innovative ways to serve customers quickly and efficiently. While Samsung's approach to security on Android devices certainly isn't the only one, if a company is taking American's approach and distributing a single device to certain employees, then it's one that could be a useful tool for transportation industry users.

But it's worth noting that Samsung's approach only works on Samsung devices and if you are going for a broader approach to mobile, then you need to explore other ways of securing your devices.

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