WiFi Network Priority on BlackBerry PlayBook not necessarily the same as on BlackBerry Smartphone - potential security bug?

PlayBook Wifi Secure?
By IsaacKendall on 28 Apr 2011 11:10 am EDT

Last week we posted an article how the PlayBook automatically transfers your saved Wi-Fi networks from your BlackBerry the first time it Bridges.  I first noticed this when I got my PlayBook home and saw it attached to my Guest 'g' Network by itself.  My first thought was "WOW how cool is this!!"  I hit up come colleagues on BBM and had them check their saved Wi-Fi networks and we noticed that all our saved Wi-Fi networks from our BlackBerry Smartphone's had copied over to the PlayBook.

Wait, is this good or bad?

Like Craig Johnston I'm real old school BlackBerry and one of my original reasons we went BlackBerry was because of the security and control.  So it didn't take long for my security hairs on the back of neck stand up straight.  I wasn't sure if I should be too concerned, sometimes I get a little crazy quickly, and yes I wear a tinfoil hat to bed.  I contacted a friend who's the Associate Director of Information Security at a major University and asked his opinion.

His first thought was "WOW that is way cool!" and after a moment he asked if on my BlackBerry does it connect to my 'Guest Network' by default?  No, I replied, I connect to my private one.  Red flags immediately went up.  I compared my saved networks on the BlackBerry and PlayBook, I saw that the network priorities were not the same.

Why is this important?  Let's say a company has a public unsecure network and a private WPA2 network, if your PlayBook selects the public open network rather than your WPA2 network everything you're doing on the web (Facebook, Twitter etc.) is not secure.  If you are familiar with things like FireSheep unsecure surfing can be a real problem.

My recommendation is that RIM mirrors the priority of Wi-Fi network selection.  In the meantime I suggest that everyone jump into their Wi-Fi profiles on the PlayBook and ensure that your Saved Wi-Fi networks are in the priority you wish. As for re-ordering their priority, simply tap and hold on a saved network. After holding for a second you can drag it up or down.

Reader comments

WiFi Network Priority on BlackBerry PlayBook not necessarily the same as on BlackBerry Smartphone - potential security bug?


Nice articles, and good advise, just wish you had added one more paragraph to the story and told how to change the prioroty.

you go to saved networks click and hold the network you want to move up the list for 2 seconds you see it change a bit and then you drag it to the top of the list.

Honestly, this article is way overdone. First when you bring your playbook to work on a secure network you are usually going to have to register it to the network so you are going to know which network you are on. If your company doesn't do that then they are morons, and the professor should have known that.

If it's a home network that the writer is talking about then you click and drag like I said. Simple, done! And let's thank RIM for copying the networks over!!! I don't know how many times I've gone to relatives' homes with a new laptop and they can't find their stupid security code for the router.

Let's stop trying to turn good things about the playbook into bad, especially when the solution is click and drag!!

Yeah... I don't disagree with you.... Issaac really loves his security though and had to get this out there.  Don't think it's a big issue either, but one RIM could easily fix and it is *something* to be aware of.

Agreed that this feature of automatically transferring over the networks is pure awesome!


I think that means you've connected to the guest network at home with your BlackBerry, as the Playbook will only automatically connect to networks you have already connected to.

Also, to be slightly off-topic, I'd like RIM to fix the range of the wifi on the Playbook - I find the range on to be insufficient. I can constantly connect to networks on my 9700 with one/two bars of signal strength and the Playbook can't even see them.

I agree that the wireless service range needs to be increased. All my phones and computers have no problem with the WIFI around my house but the PlayBook does. In some areas of the house the PlayBook doesn't get any signal.

That's interesting, it's the opposite for me, I've been thinking how powerful the PB service range is.

Got my PlayBook today, took it to a room where neither my Bold9700 or laptop can hang on to the wifi signal for very long and I was impressed by how well the PlayBook coped.

Particularly good news for me as now I can get internet in rooms in my house that before had none, or as good as.

Personally, my WiFi Connections are in order of security, and I had no direct intervention with when they were "programmed" into my Playbook. (V1.0.1.1680) I had connected to the different networks not in the order they showed up on my 'Save Networks'.

Just my 2 cents.

I liked the idea of the settings being transferred. Retyping security codes is a real pain, especially if your trying to connect to a secure Bell network.

My playbook did transfer my settings, well sort of.
On my home network, it changed the network setting to open from WEP to OPEN and "forgot" the 24? character security code. It took me 2 days and a tech call to figure this one out and get the code back in.

Everything works great now.

I had the same problem where it took all my WEP enabled WiFi profiles from the bridged BB and set them to OPEN as well. Do you use content encryption on your BB phone like I do? Maybe that has something to do with why it didn't transfer the WEP key or maybe there is just a flaw transferring WEP profiles to the PB from the BB in general. :'(

I tried rearranging the order using click and drag it looked rearranged, then moments later it was in some random order. Tried it 3 times to make sure I wasn't going crazy. Something isn't quite right!

Edited to add that every time i look at the saved list, it shows a different order!

Ouch!!! When I got my pb, I tested out the (att) bridge from my 9700 on the floor model @ bb to be sure it worked before i bought it, see how email/calander/bridge browser worked etc..

I guess THAT PB now has the key to my home and office computers! What a disappointment. No pop ups or anything!

My guess was not to worry because "nothing from your phone is stored on the playbook after you are done bridging".

Not happy about this.

That's why I would never do something like test Bridge in a store. Anything that could transfer personal information to something that potentially hundreds of people can touch doesn't sound like a great idea.

I know!! But I read sooo many times that the bridge doesn't transfer ANY information to the PB that can be stored by the PB... Cept for PASSWORDS I guess!!

I really didn't want to waste my time. when att didn't approve the bridge, it was a last straw. bad enough, hardly any apps atm.. I know.. web is great etc.. BUT.. for me, noteably, not one videoconferencing app is ready, meanwhile i read about 4 or 5 different videoconferencing apps on ios and android today with multiple people conferencing etc..
need skype or something to justify this thing. son's grandparents live 1,000 miles away, and this is the simple, non laptop solution for them to see eachother when not nearby.still in my return window. not really considering it, but you never know.

Good news I guess is that you cannot tell the PB to show the WEP key for saved WiFi profiles that were transferred to the PB @ Best Buy.

You are either totally nuts or you live in a town of 100 people. First it's a floor demo that no one is going to sell second they then have to hunt around the city to find your house or your friends' houses. Is your router name your address????

Ah and then you put an android and iOS ad in your post...

The price of oil is rising why don't you bitch about that instead, that'll actually cost you something.

Ya I was pleasantly surprised to see my saved networks copied over to my playbook from my BB. It does not copy over the passwords though, which is good.

Networks have options security for a reason,i always think of the what if's,and i know that it's a possibility of it happening to me.im glad i dont have a,it will never happen to me mentality