5 BlackBerry Safety Tips to Protect your Personal Information

Security

Alexbest

Hello world! My name is Alex M. and I’m a Security Product Manager at Research In Motion (RIM). My job is to make sure that folks like you and me are safe when we use a BlackBerry® smartphone. What do I mean by “safe”? Security is about letting the good guys in and keeping the bad guys out. Sounds simple, right? Just don’t tell that to my boss.😀

BlackBerry smartphones come with a huge set of built-in security features, but how do we use them and what do they really do? Those are the questions I’ll be trying to answer with every post. Let’s start from the beginning: protecting your personal information.

Many of us (and I’m no exception) keep important information on our BlackBerry smartphones. The last thing we all want is this information getting into the wrong hands if our BlackBerry smartphone is lost or we replace it with a newer model. The good news is that BlackBerry smartphones are very tough nuts to crack, especially if you take the right steps to protect your information.

Wipe It!

Replacing your BlackBerry smartphone is like selling a used car – you need to make sure you clear it out first! Here are three easy ways to do that:

  1. Wipe your BlackBerry smartphone data.
  2. If you have a BlackBerry® Internet Service account, contact your carrier and ask them to remove it. If you don’t, your emails will keep being sent to your old smartphone even after you wipe it.
  3. If you have a corporate BlackBerry smartphone, ask your IT admins to remove the IT policies. The new owner will thank you!

Protect It!

Of course, smartphones are also easy to lose, and many are stolen each day. To protect your personal information in case your BlackBerry smartphone is lost or stolen:

  1. Make sure you set a password. By default, an attacker only has 10 tries to get it right, so making it hard to guess is very important. Here some useful tips on choosing a strong password.
  2. Use content protection to encrypt all of your personal data. You can enable this by selecting Options -> Security Options -> General Settings on most BlackBerry smartphones.

If you do lose your smartphone, you will also want to contact your carrier right away to disable your SIM card (or equivalent). If you have a corporate smartphone, make sure you contact your IT staff first. They will usually be able to remotely enable security features and/or wipe your smartphone.

So there you have it, a few simple and practical ideas. Any tips you want to share? Anything you want to hear about next time? Let me know in the comments. Till next time, stay alert, stay safe.

About Alex M.

Product Manager, Consumer Security, Alex joined Research In Motion (RIM) in 2006 and has worked on securing BlackBerry smartphones and the BlackBerry Enterprise Solution. Today, he looks after the security of consumer products like email, instant messaging and social networking. Alex does all of his online banking and shopping from his BlackBerry smartphone because it’s safer than using a computer (seriously!).

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  • Bla1ze

    The suggestion of wiping your BlackBerry Smartphone in this example doesn’t state you need a BES for that.
    It should be noted that BIS customers, if device is lost or stolen have no way to wipe their device unless a 3rd party application is used. Maybe you could look at suggesting some third party applications from alliance members which allow BIS users to do so.
    I understand in the article you addressed the fact lost or stolen devices are wiped after a specified number of unlock attempts, but my suggestion of 3rd party applications is for those who may not have password protected their device. Third party applications are a great solution to that problem should it ever arise.
    Great job Alex, looking forward to more information here.🙂

  • Bla1ze

    The suggestion of wiping your BlackBerry Smartphone in this example doesn’t state you need a BES for that.
    It should be noted that BIS customers, if device is lost or stolen have no way to wipe their device unless a 3rd party application is used. Maybe you could look at suggesting some third party applications from alliance members which allow BIS users to do so.
    I understand in the article you addressed the fact lost or stolen devices are wiped after a specified number of unlock attempts, but my suggestion of 3rd party applications is for those who may not have password protected their device. Third party applications are a great solution to that problem should it ever arise.
    Great job Alex, looking forward to more information here.🙂

  • Bla1ze

    The suggestion of wiping your BlackBerry Smartphone in this example doesn’t state you need a BES for that.
    It should be noted that BIS customers, if device is lost or stolen have no way to wipe their device unless a 3rd party application is used. Maybe you could look at suggesting some third party applications from alliance members which allow BIS users to do so.
    I understand in the article you addressed the fact lost or stolen devices are wiped after a specified number of unlock attempts, but my suggestion of 3rd party applications is for those who may not have password protected their device. Third party applications are a great solution to that problem should it ever arise.
    Great job Alex, looking forward to more information here.🙂

  • Bla1ze

    The suggestion of wiping your BlackBerry Smartphone in this example doesn’t state you need a BES for that.
    It should be noted that BIS customers, if device is lost or stolen have no way to wipe their device unless a 3rd party application is used. Maybe you could look at suggesting some third party applications from alliance members which allow BIS users to do so.
    I understand in the article you addressed the fact lost or stolen devices are wiped after a specified number of unlock attempts, but my suggestion of 3rd party applications is for those who may not have password protected their device. Third party applications are a great solution to that problem should it ever arise.
    Great job Alex, looking forward to more information here.🙂

  • Caspan

    I love the idea about security… I am a security person myself. One thing RIM has forgotten is the use of hands free devices while security is enabled. I sent an email to Douglas about this with an idea would love to hear the community’s feedback on. You can view the article on my Blog
    http://caspan.com/?p=31

  • Caspan

    I love the idea about security… I am a security person myself. One thing RIM has forgotten is the use of hands free devices while security is enabled. I sent an email to Douglas about this with an idea would love to hear the community’s feedback on. You can view the article on my Blog
    http://caspan.com/?p=31

  • Alex M

    Thanks Bla1ze. You’re right that there are third-party applications that let you remotely wipe your BlackBerry Smartphone without a BlackBerry Enterprise Server. Now if only there was an easy way to find such applications…🙂
    http://appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/search/wipe/category/2
    Note: I haven’t tried any of these myself, so use at your own risk. Better yet, if you’ve used one, let us know what you think!

  • Alex M

    Thanks Bla1ze. You’re right that there are third-party applications that let you remotely wipe your BlackBerry Smartphone without a BlackBerry Enterprise Server. Now if only there was an easy way to find such applications…🙂
    http://appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/search/wipe/category/2
    Note: I haven’t tried any of these myself, so use at your own risk. Better yet, if you’ve used one, let us know what you think!

  • Norm

    Facebook App is not working with the new 5.0 opp system is there a patch coming out to fix?

  • Norm

    Facebook App is not working with the new 5.0 opp system is there a patch coming out to fix?

  • Tazzle, Inc

    My Corporate BB encrypts all data on the media card. Need to get pictures off the encrytped media to PC for viewing.
    Sample file name: IMG0001.jpg.rem
    The encryption is through Newsgator Enterprise Edition.
    Any sugestions??
    Thanks!
    Michael_Tazzleit

  • Tazzle, Inc

    My Corporate BB encrypts all data on the media card. Need to get pictures off the encrytped media to PC for viewing.
    Sample file name: IMG0001.jpg.rem
    The encryption is through Newsgator Enterprise Edition.
    Any sugestions??
    Thanks!
    Michael_Tazzleit

  • Douglas Soltys

    Caspan! You wrote me the War and Peace of BlackBerry emails! It takes awhile to get feedback internally on anything that long. =D
    Good stuff though! Everyone go check it out and get commenting.

  • Douglas Soltys

    Caspan! You wrote me the War and Peace of BlackBerry emails! It takes awhile to get feedback internally on anything that long. =D
    Good stuff though! Everyone go check it out and get commenting.

  • BlackBerryForum

    Hi Tazzle, Inc
    You may want to refer to this link regarding the issue:
    http://www.blackberry.com/btsc/search.do?cmd=displayKC&docType;=kc&externalId;=KB16240&sliceId;=1&docTypeID;=DT_SUPPORTISSUE_1_1&dialogID;=200360604&stateId;=1%200%20201446346
    Brian
    Come follow your BlackBerry Technical Team on twitter! @BlackBerryForum
    Want to learn how to use your BlackBerry® smartphone? Visit http://www.youtube.com/BlackBerry to help you get the most out of your BlackBerry smartphone!

  • BlackBerryForum

    Hi Tazzle, Inc
    You may want to refer to this link regarding the issue:
    http://www.blackberry.com/btsc/search.do?cmd=displayKC&docType=kc&externalId=KB16240&sliceId=1&docTypeID=DT_SUPPORTISSUE_1_1&dialogID=200360604&stateId=1%200%20201446346
    Brian
    Come follow your BlackBerry Technical Team on twitter! @BlackBerryForum
    Want to learn how to use your BlackBerry® smartphone? Visit http://www.youtube.com/BlackBerry to help you get the most out of your BlackBerry smartphone!

  • Caspan

    I know… I’m just poking at you. I take my BlackBerry stuff serious. I can’t imagine the amount of emails that you have to go through let alone my novel🙂

  • Caspan

    I know… I’m just poking at you. I take my BlackBerry stuff serious. I can’t imagine the amount of emails that you have to go through let alone my novel🙂

  • Master Control

    I have a Sprint & a Nextel BlackBerry, there is a way to stop emails from being received on your missing blackberry.
    I just log into my sprint or nextel account, goto email settings and disable all pop3 email addresses being sent to the missing (ie:pin number)unit.
    This is just way, another way is to forward the email to another address, I have ten (10) pop3 email addreses and have had to do this myself.
    This is the same thing that customer service would do.
    it can be done by the unit owner.

  • Master Control

    I have a Sprint & a Nextel BlackBerry, there is a way to stop emails from being received on your missing blackberry.
    I just log into my sprint or nextel account, goto email settings and disable all pop3 email addresses being sent to the missing (ie:pin number)unit.
    This is just way, another way is to forward the email to another address, I have ten (10) pop3 email addreses and have had to do this myself.
    This is the same thing that customer service would do.
    it can be done by the unit owner.

  • Joey

    I am the administrator for a seven device BPS installation at a small community bank. I currently have third-party app downloads restricted. My users are complaining because they would like to utilize some of the third-party apps that are available. I am concerned about the risks associated with enabling this and curious about how well the BAW apps are tested and if there is a way to restrict them to only the BAW apps. Can you give me any guidance or point me to some resources that detail how this works?

  • OP

    If you enable content protection, most 3rd party application that sync data will have problems. That includes Google Sync, the Rexwireless applications, syncml clients, etc.

    Isn't a password enough since the device will be wiped after 10 failed attempts?
    What are the risks of leaving the device's memory unencrypted?

  • Lexy

    How do I retrieve blackberry instant messages that I deleted from my phone?

  • epn1

    I'd like to make a security-related feature suggestion. As Alex points out, the first step to securing your device is to enable password protection. And as noted in the “choosing a strong password” link, to be secure a password should have a variety off characters and should be long. (The article at the link suggests a whopping 12-14 characters!!)

    In theory, that's all good. But in reality, having a 14 character password that includes uppercase, lower case, numbers and maybe symbols is going to involve 20+ clicks on a tiny keyboard. Having to do that every time you pick up the device is so burdensome that some will have short insecure passwords (or no passwords) and others (like me) will find ourselves just not using the BlackBerry as often as we'd like.

    To fix that, I suggest this: Allow the user to set two passwords — a quick password and a standards password. The quick password would only work if entered correctly on the first try and within a few seconds of when the first character is entered. Any error or delay and the unit can only be opened with the strong standards password.

    Because the quick password must be entered exactly right without error in a few seconds, the chances of anyone guessing it correctly are miniscule. As a result, even a short (3-4 character) password would be a secure way to lock the unit. The long password would be the fallback in case the owner goofed when entering the short one.

    This was a feature in a locking app (TealLock) I had for a Palm device, and it was great!

  • http://supportforums.blackberry.com/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/95796 BlackBerryHelp_Thomas

    Lexy,

    If you have a backup of your BlackBerry that you created with BlackBerry Desktop Manager you could retrieve them there. If you do not have a backup of the BlackBerry then there will be no way to retrieve them.

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