Samsung Mobile Press

Why the Army Protecting the Vatican Added Samsung Knox Suite to its Arsenal

March 24, 2023

The Pontifical Swiss Guard (Guardia Svizzera Pontificia or GSP) is responsible for protecting the Pope and the Papal Palace in Vatican City, a location visited by 25,000 tourists on an average day.

Having protected the popes in the Vatican since 1506, the GSP is a Renaissance-era army performing their highly successful duties in the modern age. However, things have changed dramatically since the first Swiss citizens took up their halberds, a two-handed pole-type weapon, to stand in defense of the Pope.

Technological advancements have encouraged the GSP to modernize their tactics and technology to ensure the safety of Vatican City. To do this effectively, they required a robust solution allowing them to be mobile, smart and digital, and to ensure their communications are as secure as the Vatican’s Apostolic archives. The importance of security and privacy cannot be overstated, and huge considerations around any technological integrations must be taken into account.

The GSP chose Knox Suite, Samsung Electronics’ powerful and adaptable mobile device management platform, due to the wide range of crucial benefits it provides. The platform is designed to help IT administrators easily secure, deploy and manage devices in ways that suit their business. Highly customizable and adaptable, Knox Suite is perfectly suited to handling the most diverse and complex needs.

For example, the platform allows system admins to remotely manage and monitor the location of every device used by the GSP, and erase data in the event that a device is lost or stolen. It also enables the organization to customize the configuration and functionality of its devices in line with any changing requirements needed to aid the protection of the Vatican.

Knox Suite is also essential to the GSP in high-risk scenarios. Through the platform, the GSP can instantly share threat information across multiple devices, while patrol leaders are able to view where all members of the GSP are deployed at any one time. 

Knox Suite1 consists of Knox Platform for Enterprise, Knox Mobile Enrollment, Knox Manage, Knox E-FOTA (Enterprise Firmware Over the Air) and Knox Asset Intelligence. Among them, the key solutions and functions used by the GSP are as follows:

  • Knox Mobile Enrollment — Provides easier device enrollment for both IT admins and device users. Knox Mobile Enrollment allows for thousands of devices to be set up at once and configured easily. The ability to quickly initialize a batch of new devices means that they can be deployed quickly, helping to reduce any potential device downtime for the GSP. New devices can also be enrolled quickly and easily via Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth or QR code scans.
  • Knox Manage — Allows the GSP to restrict the contents of devices remotely and disable certain features, such as cameras and microphones, at certain times. For instance, if a device is stolen or lost, it can be locked or wiped to ensure the contents are inaccessible to malicious parties.

    Knox Manage also gives the GSP the ability to limit non-essential app use. This creates a highly simplified user experience and streamlines the apps that the guards need to perform their duties. Minimizing distractions and reducing time spent on devices allows the GSP to ensure maximum focus and productivity.

    This feature also allows devices to be restricted in sensitive situations to ensure additional security. Knox Manage could be used during the next papal conclave, for example, to help safeguard information and communications while key decisions are made.

Galaxy Tab Active Series With Knox Suite
The Vatican is perhaps as synonymous with secrecy as it is with tradition. In order to ensure privacy amongst its members and staff, the guards have added cutting edge enterprise software to their security arsenal alongside halberds and swords. Complementing this are Samsung Galaxy ruggedized devices, such as the Galaxy XCover Pro and Galaxy Tab Active series, which have led the GSP to report fewer repairs and fewer devices needing replacement.

Although they are “the world's smallest army,” the GSP shoulders an immense responsibility and therefore requires mobile devices with military specifications.2 Accidents can happen suddenly and unexpectedly, yet Galaxy’s ruggedized devices are incredibly reliable and offer IP68-rated3 water and dust protection. Knowing that Galaxy XCover and Tab Active series devices can withstand tough conditions allows the guards to perform their duties confident in the reliability and longevity of their tools.

Samsung Knox Suite and the Pontifical Swiss Guard

For example, the Galaxy Tab Active2 offers a wide range of features such as enhanced touch for use with gloves4 and and a long-lasting and replaceable battery5 which minimizes downtime in the event of low power. The Galaxy Tab Active3 builds on these features with a clearer high-resolution display and a programmable key that provides instant access to critical apps, such as push-to-talk or emergency functions.

Swiss Guard using Galaxy product with Samsung Knox Suite Collaged

The Galaxy Tab Active3 also supports Samsung DeX,6 which provides a PC-like experience when plugged into a monitor or TV, for officers performing planning or administrative work. These various features make the Galaxy Tab Active series an ideal mobile device choice, backed up by Knox Suite, for a professional honor guard with hundreds of years of history.

End-to-End Support from Hardware to Software
Samsung also provides continuous support at every turn. The GSP can seek assistance if they have any queries or concerns regarding their devices, operating systems or functionalities, ensuring they consistently have the best tools available in the line of duty.

Swiss Guard using Galaxy product with Samsung Knox Suite

With the ideal management platform, ruggedized hardware and end-to-end support, Samsung provides the device security and productivity that the GSP needs to preserve tradition while transitioning into a new, digital era. The Knox Suite platform’s comprehensive offerings mean the Pontifical Swiss Guard can be confident that they are performing their duties with the best possible support. Armed with Samsung’s rugged, reliable and secure digital devices, the GSP can seamlessly focus on protecting the Pope and the Vatican as they have traditionally done for over 500 years.

1 Requires separate license key (purchased separately).
2 Galaxy Tab Active2 is compliant with MIL-STD-810G. Galaxy Tab Active3 is compliant with MIL-STD-810H. MIL-STD-810 is a standardized form of testing for altitude, humidity, immersion, salt fog, dust, vibration, drop, etc., designed by the US Military to accurately assess device limitations.
3 IP68 rating: Water resistance based on test conditions for submersion in up to 1.5 meters of fresh water for up to 30 minutes and protected from dust, dirt, and sand. Rinse residue/dry after wet. Not advised for beach or pool use.
4 Touch Sensitivity responsiveness may vary depending on the material and thickness of gloves as well as other environmental conditions.
5 Actual battery life may vary depending on network environment, usage patterns and other factors. Extra replaceable battery sold separately. In the case of extra replaceable batteries, only Samsung certified products are compatible for use.
6 Samsung DeX on Galaxy Tab Active3 is available on compatible external screens via wired or wireless connections. Compatible apps may vary.

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