Google launches Android for Work, its secure play for BYOD

Google has taken the wraps off Android for Work, the BYOD enterprise program it’s been brewing with mobile device management (MDM) partners for months and borrows from Samsung’s container technology KNOX.

Android dominates the consumer smartphone market but Google’s OS is still behind iOS in the enterprise. Google hopes that Android for Work gives businesses an easier way to securely deploy the billion or so Android smartphones carried by consumers.

Android for Work was first touted at Google IO last year as an enterprise companion to Android L (Android 5.0), which built on other security features such as default encryption, enhanced SELinux security enforcement and multi-user support.

Android 5.0 is the primary version that is supported and allows for “work profiles”, a tool that divides a space for personal data and a space for work data that can be managed by admins, not unlike Samsung’s Knox Workspace.

“IT can deploy approved work apps right alongside their users personal apps knowing their sensitive data remains secured. People can use their personal apps knowing their employer only manages work data and won’t erase or view their personal content,” explained Rajen Sheth, Google director of product management of Android and Chrome for Work.

Android for Work was designed with Android 5.0 in mind, but four months after its release, the version makes up less than two percent of all Android devices out there, according to Google’s Android distribution figures for February.

Until that figure rises, devices running anything from Ice Cream Sandwich to Jelly Bean and KitKat — collectively making up 80 percent of all Android devices — will be able to use the “Android for Work app”.

“The app, which delivers secure mail, calendar, contacts, documents, browsing and access to approved work apps, can be completely managed by IT,” said Sheth.

Google for Work also includes Google Play for Work, a store for apps that have been approved by each business.

The final component is a suite of productivity tools, including email, contacts and calendar, which support Exchange and Notes. The suite comes courtesy of Divide, a BYOD startup that Google acquired last May after Google Ventures had invested in it. Google still calls the app Divide, which is available in preview on Google Play.

Google notes in support documents that Android for Work requires Android 5.0 or higher and Google Apps for Work or a Google-approved enterprise mobility management (EMM) provider.

Some of the EMM or MDM partners on board include VMware’s AirWatch, BlackBerry, IBM’s MaaS360, MobileIron, Citrix, SAP and SOTI.

Samsung KNOX also played a key role in developing Android for Work, which Google outlined last year as a set of new Android SDK APIs for EMMs that enable the creation of a managed profile where corporate apps and data reside.

Read more: The week in security: Struggling to get smarter about mobile apps

AirWatch noted today in a|company blog post]] that Android for Work standardises management APIs for Android devices from multiple OEMs.

The EMM vendor also explained the provisioning process. AirWatch admins can obtain a token for their domain from a Google Android for Work portal. They then upload and verify the token in AirWatch. Users meanwhile will need to enrol with the AirWatch Agent before they can activate Android for Work.

Once the set up is complete, admins will be able to manage profiles and settings and run commands from the MDM console, including remote device wipe, enterprise wipe, device lock and clear passcode.

The admin can also apply Work Profile restrictions, such as disabling the camera, copy and past functions, and sharing wit the personal area of the device. They’ll also be able to set up URL whitelists or blacklists and disable cookies in Chrome settings.

Read more: Record-pace app sales reinforce urgency of authorities' mobile app privacy push

This article is brought to you by Enex TestLab, content directors for CSO Australia.

Upcoming IT Security Events

Read more: Shadow IT threat lingers as ANZ businesses drag feet on cloud moves

March 3rd, March 5th, March 9th 2015

Join CSO for the day@#csoperspectives and hear from @kimzetter @LeviathanSec

3 International Keynote speakers, 36 Key IT Security Industry Speaker, 21 Exhibitors, Security Analysts and many more.. Register today

Dont miss one of the biggest IT Security events in ANZ (registration is free, but seats are limited)

Read more: Is fragmentation killing Android in the enterprise?

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags datasecure playmobile device management (MDM)AirWatchpersonal contentRajen Shethsecurity enforcementiosAndroidKnoxBYODsamsungGooglesecure dataSELinuxCSO Australia

More about BlackBerryCSOEnex TestLabGoogleIT SecurityMobileIronSamsungSOTI

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Liam Tung

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts