Online privacy is one of the hottest topics today. Ever since a certain government contractor leaked classified information, there has been non-stop debate in the press and social media on the importance of consumer privacy and the role of technology in protecting our personal information.
For over 15 years, BlackBerry has been synonymous with mobile privacy and security. We’ve already examined what makes BlackBerry so secure, so let’s look at what BlackBerry does to protect us as individuals.
Private by Default
Let’s be honest: Most of us would rather not have to think about privacy and security. We use technology to be productive and entertained, and worries around online safety only get in the way.
BlackBerry supports privacy by default. BES messages, BBM, and BlackBerry Blend are encrypted by default. Connections to mail servers that support encryption (e.g., Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook.com) are encrypted by default. Connections to websites that support encryption (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) are encrypted by default. And of course, connections to the BlackBerry Infrastructure are encrypted by default.
You may have seen recent news stories about a competitor implementing proper device encryption. At BlackBerry, we’re big believers in device encryption. In fact, we’ve supported FIPS 140-2 validated encryption in all of our devices for the past 10 years – longer than many of our competitors have been selling smartphones.
(As of February 2015, BlackBerry holds 70+ security certifications and approvals from governments.)
Passwords for Human Beings
To protect our privacy, we’re always told to create and remember strong unique passwords filled with random letter, numbers and symbols for every single product and service that we use, and of course to change them regularly. The goal is to prevent brute force attacks where specialized software quickly guesses common passwords until it finds the right one.
BlackBerry makes simple passwords secure. We limit password attempts so that after 10 incorrect tries, your device automatically wipes to protect your information. This makes short, simple passwords much safer on BlackBerry. If a random lower-case 4-letter password requires an average of 228,000 guesses to break, the odds of someone guessing it in 10 tries is around 0.002%.
BlackBerry ID also limits password attempts, which protects both BBM and your payment information in BlackBerry World. And BlackBerry 10 comes with BlackBerry Protect, so if you lose your device you can immediately locate it, make it ring, set a password, change the password, and remotely wipe all of your information.
Ask for Permission, Not Forgiveness
Online data collection is a double-edged sword. It can be a great way to understand user behavior and improve services, but it can also lead to privacy issues if you don’t have control.
BlackBerry lets you opt in to data collection and opt out anytime. When you first boot your BlackBerry 10 device, you’ll see a screen that asks if you want to enable Location Diagnostics. We securely collect anonymous data to do neat things like improve turn-by-turn navigation in BlackBerry Maps and learn which BBM Emojis are the most popular, which is why most people choose to enable this. But if you change your mind later on, you can disable it anytime from Settings -> Security and Privacy -> Diagnostics.
Cover Your Apps
Mobile apps are the best way to improve your productivity, the best form of mobile entertainment, and arguably the biggest threat to your personal privacy. The new BlackBerry Passport comes preloaded with both BlackBerry World and the Amazon Appstore, giving you access to hundreds of thousands of apps and games from across both BlackBerry and Android.
BlackBerry automatically protects you from malicious apps. We’ve partnered with Trend Micro to automatically scan all apps on BlackBerry World, and starting with the BlackBerry Passport, we also scan Android apps as you install them. When you install an app, it gets put in its own sandbox separate from your personal data, and the only way to access things like your location, camera, or BBM is by asking your permission. And for BlackBerry apps, you can choose to deny individual permissions and still run the app.
Private by Design
We live in an age where our personal information is more valuable than ever. Some vendors want to silently collect and sell our data, while others want to capitalize on our worries by selling privacy “features.” At BlackBerry, consumer privacy is not a new and exciting feature; it is, and has always been, an intrinsic part of our culture and technology.
As always, feel free to leave a comment below or tweet using #BBSecurity.