Malware: What you need to know and how BlackBerry smartphones help protect customers

Enterprise

Any modern day operating system with a significant number of users is likely to become the target of malware. It presents a challenge for every desktop computer, tablet, or smartphone user, from children to the highest level government executives.

Malware can gain access to a mobile device through several methods. One type of potential malware exposure can occur when someone connects a mobile device to an infected desktop computer via USB, but most desktop anti-virus software will help prevent this type of attack. A more common method of attack is to trick customers into installing malware through hoax messages that lead users to click a link to a malicious website. The malicious website prompts them to install what seems like a harmless application, but instead downloads malicious software onto their computer or mobile device.

How to protect your BlackBerry smartphone from malware

In order to help protect yourself from these types of security concerns, you should avoid downloading and installing applications from untrusted sources. This simple precaution helps mitigate the risk of malware being installed on your device because you don’t permit it to.

To further help protect customers, BlackBerry smartphones are designed to require user interaction and decision making to prevent malware from silently gaining access to devices. For example, when an application attempts to install itself on a BlackBerry smartphone, the device always asks the user if they want to download the application. In addition, if the user or a BlackBerry Enterprise Server administrator has configured the BlackBerry smartphone to require a device password when installing an application, the user will be prompted for their device password, before downloading and installing the application.

BlackBerry smartphones also give users the option to configure third-party application permissions across all applications or on an app by app basis, thereby preventing third-party applications that have been downloaded from gaining unwarranted access to data resources and making specific connections.

BlackBerry smartphone users can also remove an application from the device by simply deleting it. The instructions for deleting an application can be found in the BlackBerry knowledge base.

How administrators can protect their organization

Organizations can use the application control features that are available as part of the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) to help protect BlackBerry smartphones and their network from malware. Using IT policy rules and application control policy rules, the BlackBerry Enterprise Server administrator has the ability to:

  • Prevent BlackBerry smartphones from downloading any third-party applications
  • Either require or prevent the installation of specific third-party applications
  • Control the permissions of third-party applications that are installed on BlackBerry smartphones

These options give administrators control over which applications can be installed on BlackBerry smartphones in their organizations and what information and capabilities those applications can access. These RIM recommended settings are described in the public security whitepaper Protecting BlackBerry Smartphones against Malware.

From the battlefield to the boardroom, our customers have come to rely upon the unique level of protection RIM offers through its layered approach to security, and as malware continues to present challenges for our customers, we will continue to provide actionable security solutions.

For more information on BlackBerry security, visit www.blackberry.com/security, and if you have a security issue you would like to discuss with us, please email us at secure@rim.com.

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