What is Secure Work Space?

By Craig Johnston on 21 Feb 2014 01:54 pm EST

As more companies started allowing iOS (iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch) into the enterprise, a second trend of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) also started to take hold.  Companies adopted a BYOD policy allowing their employees to choose whatever device they wanted to, but had to agree to have that device managed and secured by their company’s Mobile Device Management (MDM) system.

In many instances, employees became wary that their company had such control over their personal devices, and could wipe them at any time, not to mention enforce security policies and restrict capabilities. The idea was born to create a secure container on the Smartphone and Tablet that only contained corporate email, contacts, calendar, and apps.  This secure container was encrypted, and had its own separate user interface and apps.

The second reason that these secure containers became popular was Android.  Unlike iOS, Android does not have the enterprise grade controls in place, and with the different custom builds of Android by vendors like HTC, Motorola, etc. each with their own variations on security, the problem becomes compounded.  A secure container then, unifies the security of corporate data no matter what flavor of Android you choose.

BlackBerry’s Take On Dual Persona

BlackBerry saw the success of Good Technology and Divide (amongst others) and created Secure Work Space. Secure Work Space works in the same way that Good and Divide do by providing a secure, encrypted container with its own apps, but also routes the data via the BlackBerry Network Operations Center (NOC).

In addition to providing email, contacts and calendar, Secure Work Space has its own secure web browser that works in a similar way to the old BlackBerry Browser on BBOS, where the user could use it to access company web sites behind the firewall without the need to first connect via Virtual Private Network (VPN).  Finally, Secure Work Space comes with a version of DocumentsToGo that allows the user to view and have limited editing capabilities on Microsoft Office documents like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Extra apps can be deployed to the Secure Work Space by doing what is called “wrapping”, a technique that “wraps” the app in a security blanket to allow the administrator to have control over it on the mobile device.

Enhancing BYOD

Dual Persona solutions like Secure Work Space can be the perfect choice when a company adopts a BYOD policy.  There is benefit to the user and IT.  The IT department can deploy a uniform security policy across all iOS and Android devices since the policies themselves are limited to the secure container.  The user benefits because their personal device that they paid money for, is not controlled by IT.  IT cannot see what they have installed, enforce passwords, or remotely wipe their device.  The user feels comfortable that their personal and work life is being kept separate, and all IT can do it wipe the corporate data and apps.

Reader comments

What is Secure Work Space?


Welcome "back" Craig, great write-up and thanks for the explanation on how this works.

Can't wait to see more of your articles on here as I always find your take on the workings of enterprise stuff interesting to read.

Surely I prefer the way BlackBerry handles it, but here's hoping that BlackBerry keeps working hard to make things better and remain appealing to governments and businesses as well as regular consumers.

Posted via CB10

Quick question. Does the Q10 allow BlackBerry Balance? I see promos for it but can't seem to figure it out on how to activate it. I ordered my Z30 yesterday so we'll see. But can someone shed some light on this. Link, advice, etc.

Posted via CB10 with my T-Mobile USA  ‎BlackBerry Q10...SON!

Yes Q10 allows BlackBerry Balance.

Historically that was an enterprise feature, required activating the device on an institutional BES server. But they are working on a "cloud" version.

Which I hope is successfully rolled-out, because I think regular users could appreciate that capability for ie parental control of a device. Much more robust and feature-rich than the typical parental control features on other smartphones.

Also, for small businesses where it's not practical to run an internal BES server.

Yeah I run a small business.

Posted via CB10 with my T-Mobile USA  ‎BlackBerry Q10...SON! (Soon to be the almighty Z30!)

Of course it does ;-)
You need to go to Settings > Accounts, tap "add account" at the bottom, tap "advanced" at the bottom, and choose "Corporate account" (or work account, whatever, the icon with the @ and the blue suitcase).
And of course set an activation password in BES10 (or ask your IT guy to do it if you aren't the IT guy yourself)

Thanks for the help guys! I will try it and get back to you!

Posted via CB10 with my T-Mobile USA  ‎BlackBerry Q10...SON!

Especially since Airwatch is killing it atm....

"Snap" is the best stop-gap solution for Android apps while we wait for BlackBerry to get its act together...

I once tried Secure Work Space when it was first released, but on both my test devices (iPhone 3GS and HTC Desire X), it was buggy as hell. Obviously, the plan to start deploying it on some iPads was put on hold immediately.
I should give it a second try sometime soon, but I'll have to get myself a new set of trial licenses first.

It's a pretty useful feature, too bad they didn't include it in their BES cloud solution...

"Snap" is the best stop-gap solution for Android apps while we wait for BlackBerry to get its act together...

Great to see you back Craig, and nice article

Posted via the Android CrackBerry App!

MDM is a pain in my a** at the hospital. Today, trying to get my Q10 on the exchange was beyond a hassle. I finally ended up being able to use activesync only AFTER the exchange lady unblocked my phone because BB10 isn't on the hospitals BES. Took about 20 emails to get it sorted out.

If I recall correctly, any device linked to a BES10 can be entirely remotely wiped by the BES admin. Even the personal section of a BB10 device, and it's SDcard.

Posted via CB10

Good is having some good customers. I know at least a bank in top ten banks is using Good.

It's not a phone, it's a 

True Business Support from a true business, I expect nothing less, all they needed was the right person to direct efforts, BlackBerry has the technology+talent...Keep improving BES&BBM for users who want the incredible services BlackBerry has to offer....since both are multi-platform now there's a whole new demographic out there to win over. On the other side of the house, make sexy yet highly functional devices as well as keep rewarding "quality" developers and persuade "quality" developers from other platforms to make the apps already popular on BlackBerry from sideloads/ports "Built for BlackBerry". That is the mission, get it done by Q1 2015

Posted via CB10