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Dear Berry: How do I encrypt files on BlackBerry 10?

Need advice on how to solve your BlackBerry woes? Dear Berry is here to save the day.
By Dear Berry on 6 Aug 2014 09:54 pm EDT
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Hello again readers! Dear Berry is here once again with a mailbag full of BlackBerry questions and woes. Today's question comes from Kevin B. who asks:

I keep hearing and reading about BlackBerry 10's great security, but I fail to see where it exist or how to activate it. If any security exists it seems to be rather passive. After switching from BlackBerry OS 7 to BlackBerry 10, it appears that this OS lacks any individual file security/encryption, which was apparent with BlackBerry OS 7 and my Bold 9930. I would still have the 9930 if I hadn't worn out two keyboards.

As I make the transition to revert back to BlackBerry OS 7, before I do, I would like to know if there are any apps that will secure files and vids/pics on a Z10? Since I work as an investigator who has to share info on the fly (I cannot use my Z10 with one hand like the 9930), but need to keep that info secure until I reach the office and download it, is there any app that can encrypt (not just hide) personal files? I've tried a few Android security apps which either fail miserably (for various reasons), or they seem to slow my Z10 down.

BTW: I am not using/connected to a BB enterprise server. Thanks in advance for your assistance.

To answer your question, BlackBerry 10 does offer the capability to encrypt all of your personal data and files and it is the same ability that was available on previous operating systems including BlackBerry OS.

To enable this type of encryption you can do the following:

  • Swipe down from the top of the home screen
  • Tap on Settings > Encryption
  • Do any of the following:
  • Set the Device Encryption to ON
  • Set the Media Card Encryption to ON
  • Set the device password (this is mandatory)

As you can see you cannot select individual files or folders to encrypt but only the whole device or media card.

To decrypt files

  • Tap on Settings > Encryption
  • Turn the slider next to Media or Device from On to Off
  • Enter in the device password previously set

Please note that by doing so this creates an encryption key unique to your device. If you were to wipe your device for any reason, it will delete this key as well. Therefore, all of the files that are encrypted on your media card you would not be able to access. For example, if you were to switch devices the new BlackBerry would not be able to decrypt the information on the media card. You will receive a popup on the new BlackBerry stating that the data was encrypted on another device and in order for it to function, you will need to format it.

This is the same if someone removed the information and attempted to read. Without this unique key created by your device, the files will not open. As an example, I encrypted the microSD card on my Q10. When I connect the device to my computer I can read the encrypted files which include images and videos taken. However, if I remove the microSD card from the BlackBerry, place it in an SD card adapter, and try to read on a PC, the files will not open and I receive an error message.

This is also a bit of a double edged sword because if you were to lose your BlackBerry, it is stolen, or for whatever reason you do not have access to it, but you have your media card, you could not open those files. The encryption key resides on the original device itself and is protected when you set the mandatory device password.

If you are seeking third-party applications to perform this same function, we have featured several that do so. They also allow for individual file selection rather than having to encrypt all of them. As you asked, they encrypt the data and do not just hide the files from prying eyes.

A lot of the various methods to securing your device are the same as BlackBerry OS. Both of them can set a device password, lock the screen, lock device when holstered, security wipe, encrypt files in the same manner I described earlier, and set application permissions. In addition, BlackBerry 10 allows for also using a picture password in combination with a device password to lock out individuals other than yourself.

That's not to say there wasn't any differences between the security options and encryption methods on BlackBerry OS vs. BlackBerry 10, because there is a few that are no longer available. (i.e. BlackBerry OS encryption included contacts, two factor protection, and the option to use a password to encrypt the media card so you could use it in another device.) In addition, on BlackBerry OS the files app allowed you to "hide" files and folders from view on the media card but simply hiding files was never really secure.

Hopefully, this will clear things up for you and set on the path to keeping your device more secure in some ways you might not have been aware were available. See you next time!

Have a question about BlackBerry etiquette? Need advice on how to cope with your BlackBerry addiction? Dear Berry has you covered and there's no question too big or problem too small. Submit any of your BlackBerry woes by email to dearberry@crackberry.com or on Twitter @DearBerryCB.

Reader comments

Dear Berry: How do I encrypt files on BlackBerry 10?

62 Comments

Nope. :---)

They should bring these advanced encryption features of BBOS7 back, also I'd like to encrypt individual folders or files on the device, or just the contacts database.

Dear BlackBerry Ltd., is this really asking too much???

Also, accessing the SDcard via USB directly won't work after encrypting it, not even an option to give device password to unlock. That greatly reduces usefulness.

 BlackBerry? I premdict the future's gonna be chenomenal! 

We got a Torch / Flashlight option in the Quick Settings now, which is popular (making such apps obsolete), THANKS BBRY,

but no built-in option to encrypt individual files in the OS without relying on a third-party app?

(Third party apps will never have the integration, and might be of buggy or otherwise questionable quality... )

 BlackBerry? I premdict the future's gonna be chenomenal! 

Actually it's settings - security and privacy - encryption. You left out the "security and privacy " step.

Posted via CB10

Kinda surprised no one has fixed the article yet. Quality of CB going down lately. :(

Posted via CB10

Here's a great way to encrypt Word documents:

Great realllllly drunk before you start typing.

When anyone sober (including yourself) tries to read it, it will make absolutely no sense.

To decrypt your file, get realllllly drunk again then read it. Your file will be perfectly readable.

Posted via CB10

What kind of medium should I employ to get drunk? Rum, Vodka, etc.?

Using Z10, wanting Z30, eyeing Windermere

You might wanna update your sig, it's def Passport now! :-)

 BlackBerry? I premdict the future's gonna be chenomenal! 

Dear blackberry, how do I get a free blackberry passport.

Dear blackberry, how do I go into the future so I can acquire BlackBerry's next all-touch monster.

Pls and Thnx : D

Posted via CB10

This option should be turned on by default

Anyway the only thing bb10 still lags is the possibility to protect users from accessing apps by passwords eg bbm, hub, fb, twitter or only folders

This needs to be addressed in 10.3.1!

Posted via CB10

I would not want this by default because then I can't access my files from a different device or my computer

Posted via the awesome power of BlackBerry 10 on one of my lovely devices probably my brand new Z30 or my great Q10 or my beautiful Z10

+1

Posted via the awesome power of BlackBerry 10 on one of my lovely devices probably my brand new Z30 or my great Q10 or my beautiful Z10

I don't. At first I thought it was a good feature, but decided that it was a bad idea because I don't want my lost phone to be usable by the person who finds it. I see it as a deterrent for the finder keeping it and an incentive for him or her to return a phone that, for the finder, is essentially an expensive paperweight.

Nifty Foods! C003262E5

If I know my password, and use my SD card in a an adapter, technically, shouldn't I be able to decrypt them in my computer?

No. That would kind of make encrypting useless no? Someone could steal your card. And use an adapter to view the files.

Only the device used to encrypt the files can be used to view those files.

Posted via CB10

If I know the algorithm and the device password, I should be able to recover my content without the device no? I'm sure BB must be using some standard algorithm

No. The password is only used to encrypt the key. The key is randomly generated. This is why the entire device doesn't have to be re-encrypted when you change your password.

Posted via CB10

This is the whole basis of BlackBerry security. Nobody knows the details to the encryption. Not even them. Everything is tied to the device. Once encrypted removing parts renders them useless. Even wiping the phone won't effect the security.
I'm not sure how else to explain it in a short manner. allowing what you've suggested would make everything about what BlackBerry does pointless.

Posted via CB10

Great article. They key here is in reference to the SD card!! I've lost media twice due to forgetting to decrypt my stuff. Both times I installed leaked os's and rendered My own card useless.

That portion should be in bold and underlined!

Posted via CB10

Agreed. I've done the same. Recommended in Beta Zone that there be a reminder that files are encrypted when going to wipe the device. This of course won't matter, though, using an autoloader with manually wiping first.

Posted via CB10

Does anyone know how much device and card encryption affects overall performance of the phone, system resource use and battery life?

So, if I want to change from my Z30 to the Passport, there is no way for Link to allow the media card transition via password, o'er whatever software mechanism that Link can provide!?!?

I hope I misunderstand this, because that would create a lot of chaos.
Can some one set me straight here?

I wouldn't recommend it if u are running android apps from Snap my phone started running really slow then crashed. Everything was saved but my icons went back to default. Strange but I took it off and everything is normal and working now.

Posted Via This Thing They Call The BlackBerry Z30

I'm using snap and my phone and SD are encrypted yet I have no problem with android apps

Posted via CB10

BB10 Z30STA100-5/10.2.1.3247 corrwcrion:

Swipe down from the top of the home screen
Tap on Settings > Security & Privacy > Encryption(*)
Do any of the following:
Set the Device Encryption to ON
Set the Media Card Encryption to ON
Set the device password (this is mandatory)
PS: Wiping the device will render the MicroSD card useless/unrecoverable unless De encrypted first.

 BlackBerry Z30  If it Don't Make Dollars, It don't Make Sense 

Dear berry and users

PLEASE PLEASE HELP HELP!!

I'm using BlackBerry Z10STL100-2/10.2.1.3247

About a month ago I saved two pages to access them offline later using the native browser, now the folder that contains downloaded files can not be deleted! They are all read only files, tried PC and didn't work, tried cmd to change the attributes but this too failed.

:( please help me

BlackBerry user since 2011.  BlackBerry 

Posted via CB10

Biggest security concerns are with android apps where I cannot restrict most permissions. If the app has permission for full access to folders, the app can transfer all the files to a remote server without my knowledge. Does the BlackBerry encryption prevent the transferred files from being accessible?

Posted via CB10

I'd like to see the option to restrict internet access to apps.

On the PlayBook I can see and grant this permission, some apps won't start without it.

 BlackBerry? I premdict the future's gonna be chenomenal! 

Thanks Berry. I've never encrypted my files, but it's good to know about stuff like this.

Posted via CB10

I can see merits in this scheme but I would also like to have an option to encrypt via password or some other method such as linking it to my BlackBerry ID that would allow the media card to be protected if my phone gets wet or takes some other kind of damage.

It's definitely top notch secure, BUT it should at least be mentioned that when encrypting your entire device you will not see the callers name once the device is in a locked state! All you see then on the incoming call screen is the number. If I'm entirely wrong with my experience, please correct me.

That's been the reason for me to just encrypt my SD card and not the entire device back at my OS7 days and from then on. From a logical point of view it makes sense since the device memory gets partially decrypted everytime you unlock the device.

Swipe down from the top of the home screen
Tap on Settings > Security and Privacy > Encryption
Do any of the following:
Set the Device Encryption to ON
Set the Media Card Encryption to ON
Set the device password (this is mandatory)

Please help me out after my upgrade I can't view my pictures again I am restart my fone many times but still won't view. Wah am I gonna do

Posted via CB10

Dear Berry,

Thanks for using my letter/ question about security using BlackBerry OS10 on my Z10. I have since found an app that does exactly what I need for hiding files from prying eyes. Its called oddly enough - Recycle Bin

Thanks for your help and expertise

KB

Posted via CB10

If I turn on the encryption then back up my files to say, Dropbox. Will the encryption be backed up as well? Meaning if I try to access those files that where sent to Dropbox via my laptop will I be able to?

Posted via CB10