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Adam Vincent

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Secure Your Blackberry

Ah, those popular little black devices that fit in the palm of your hand with keypads to handle corporate emails (produced by Research in Motion (RIM)) are all over the globe these days.   Rich features facilitate instant messaging, better known as BB Messenger, web browsing, email processing, Skype phone calls, and so much more.  People across the globe are maximizing their ability to multitask with their Blackberries (for business and personal use), and the latest flavor offers a touch screen-only interface.

While Blackberry innovation makes life easier, you need to also understand its vulnerabilities.  It’s unfortunate, but all devices that connect to the World Wide Web have inherent flaws.  Most users don’t understand that their Blackberry is just susceptible to viruses and Trojans as their home computer.  However, as these devices become more advanced, they become increasingly attractive targets for evil doers.

Cyber Squared wants to make sure that you operate your Blackberry safely, and recommends following these simple tips.

Passwords

Maintaining a strong password is a simple thing you can do to keep outsiders away from your business/personal information and prevent unauthorized use.  Putting password on your Blackberry is a simple task, but you need a password that’s more than just “follow the keys” (aka keyboard crawler).

  • Find the Options button – click it
  • Click Password
  • Make the Password field Enabled
  • Click Menu
  • Click Save
  • Put the STRONG (letters, numbers, and special characters) password in twice hitting Enter after each time. An example of a STRONG password is “Cyb3rSqu@r3d-R0cks!”

Encryption is your Friend

In the event your Blackberry is stolen or malware is downloaded, you’ll be relieved if your data is protected.  Encrypting your Blackberry’s data makes it more difficult for a person to pilfer and use for their own unauthorized needs.  Don’t follow the Hollywood’s starlets (stolen picture scandals –anyone?); and always encrypt your data.

  • On the main screen there should be an Options button – click it
  • Click Security Options
  • Click Encryption and make it Enabled
  • Set the Device Memory field to be Enabled
  • Set the Media Card field to be Enabled
  • Choose either to encrypt via a password, the device or both (it’s your choice)
  • Click Menu and Save it

Be wary of Bluetooth

A Bluetooth-enabled device can facilitate communication in a hands-free manner. However, leaving this feature turned on indiscriminately can make your Blackberry unnecessarily vulnerable.  Information could be stolen off of your Blackberry, and you may not even realize it.  Proper management of your Bluetooth connectivity can protect this valuable asset.

  • Go to the Main screen and click Manage Connections
  • Click Bluetooth options
  • Click Menu
  • Click Options
  • Make Discoverable set to NO
  • Press Menu and Save

Emails are not always trusted

One of the advantages of the Blackberry is to have your corporate email access right on your hand – an “always on” virtual connection to your office.  An added bonus is being able to stay connected to family and friends through email on the same device.

Emails are a popular medium for malicious actors.  Attachments can be infected. If you receive an email with an attachment or with a link in it, first make sure it comes from a trusted source, ensure the domain is correct and does not contain any typos or misspellings, and then – proceed with vigilance.  Attachments or links can lead to installation of malicious software on your Blackberry.  It you receive an email and if you don’t know who sent it, do not access on the attachment or go to the link.  As wise Ben Franklin put it, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”

Browse safely

Blackberries bring the Internet right to your fingertips.  Easy access to most everything you need, a phone number, directions to a location, or just catching-up on the news during your morning commute.

Whether you are at home, or browsing with your Blackberry, the Internet is a virtual playground for malicious people to harm unsuspecting victims out there, so browse with care.  Accessing an infected website can lead to Trojans and/or worms being downloaded onto your device.

Apply these few tips, and benefit from knowing that you’ve made your Blackberry more secure.

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More Stories By Adam Vincent

Adam is an internationally renowned information security expert and is currently the CEO and a founder at Cyber Squared Inc. He possesses over a decade of experience in programming, network security, penetration testing, cryptography design & cryptanalysis, identity and access control, and a detailed expertise in information security. The culmination of this knowledge has led to the company’s creation of ThreatConnect™, the first-of-its-kind threat intelligence platform. He currently serves as an advisor to multiple security-focused organizations and has provided consultation to numerous businesses ranging from start-ups to governments, Fortune 500 organizations, and top financial institutions. Adam holds an MS in computer science with graduate certifications in computer security and information assurance from George Washington University. Vincent lives in Arlington, VA with his wife, two children, and dog.