Crackberry addict President Barack Obama has had to wait a long time for the return of his mobile device while the NSA creates a customized, uber-secure version that’s appropriate for all the sensitive information that will be stored and transmitted. And even if the rest of us can’t ask the government for help beefing up encryption capabilities on our phones, we can take a cue from the President and take BlackBerry security very seriously. Use this list of tips and tools to make your BlackBerry more like Obama’s.
First, you’ll have to start by purchasing the same hardware as the President.
1. BlackBerry 8830: Obama has a BlackBerry 8830, which features a media player, wireless email, built-in GPS, and a long lasting battery.
2. NSA Customization: Chances are, you can’t get your BlackBerry customized by the National Security Agency, but if you really want your BB to be just like Obama’s, you’ll have to find a way.
Apps and Features
Obama probably has to get clearance if he wants to add any extras onto his BlackBerry, but if he could use them, he’d find these productivity enhancers, secure data viewers and other reference tools particularly useful on the go.
3. Vlingo: Vlingo lets you record text messages by speaking into your phone, instead of typing them.
4. MSDict Concise Oxford American Dictionary and Thesaurus: Obama is known for his articulate speaking and expansive vocabulary, maybe because he refers to the Oxford Dictionary on his BlackBerry.
5. BlackBerry Database Viewer: Using this app, you can view and update databases instantly from your BlackBerry.
6. Opera Mini: A secured Opera Mini browser will refresh much faster than other browsers.
7. BlackBerry Enterprise Server: The BES is a popular system that monitors how your device is used, protects data and more.
8. eSpell: Obama can make sure all of his text messages, documents and e-mails are spelled correctly before sending them using eSpell.
9. Bloomberg: Use the BlackBerry version of Bloomberg to get graphs, financial news, economic analysis and more. You know Obama’s keeping up with it, and your BB will make sure you’re updated too.
10. Shazam: Turn your BlackBerry into a workout or in-flight companion with music partner Shazam.
11. Wireless Calendar Synchronization: All BlackBerries in the 8800 series feature Wireless Calendar Synchronization, which lets you RSVP to meetings, submit meeting requests, and manage end-to-end data encryption.
12. Pocket Express: Obama could quickly check the weather, stock quotes and more by using this app on his BlackBerry.
13. Remember The Milk: This to-do list and task manager can be safely and privately used on your BlackBerry, too.
14. Travel Mate for BlackBerry: Organize your vacation or business trip just as securely and exactly as if you were the President. This app features currency converters, country fact sheets, check lists, a travel plan module and more.
15. Agendus for BlackBerry: Agendus safely stores data and syncs up calendars.
16. BlackBerry Organizer: Obama’s phone features the secure Organizer, which includes a calendar, address book, task list, MemoPad and calculator.
Security is the number one priority for the experts working on Obama’s phone. Learn about the security tools and strategies that they’re using and that can work for you too.
17. SecurVoice: Obama’s phone features the SecurVoice software from The Genesis Key, Inc. company. It removes traditional encryption software and installs its own key.
18. No IMs: Obama probably won’t be able to use IM or other chat services on his BlackBerry, as it could leave him too vulnerable to hacking.
19. Restricted e-mail usage: If you want your BB to be just like the President’s, you won’t be able to subscribe to shopping sites, get Evites, or bulk up your contacts list. Only a few security-cleared people even have Obama’s e-mail address.
20. Password Protect: No doubt Obama’s BlackBerry is password protected, a security tip you should remember to use, too.
21. Clear memory: Here you’ll learn how to clear memory off your BlackBerry for maximum privacy.
22. Disable GPS: You may have to disable your GPS capability if you’re worried about hackers, like Obama’s aides are.
23. Don’t get a phone with a camera or video: If anyone with an ulterior motive gets your phone for a split second, he or she could take an incriminating photo or video that could get you in trouble.
24. Understand BlackBerry Code Signing: This tool limits access to third party applications.
25. Check up on your IT administrators: Make sure that BlackBerry IT administrators who have access to your account are using your information responsibly.
26. When you drop it, make sure you find every piece: If you drop your phone and it breaks into several pieces, make sure you collect every single part, just in case you lose a piece that carries confidential information.
27. Check for unwanted add-ons: Take your BlackBerry back into the store to check for any downloads or devices that may have been added without your knowledge.
28. Know the signs of being tapped: Mediocre tapping devices leave clues that give them away. Make sure you know the signs of a bug on your phone.
29. Don’t send PIN to PIN messages: PIN to PIN messages aren’t encrypted like ones sent with BlackBerry Enterprise Server Redirector are.
30. Do background checks on the people you e-mail: Just because you don’t have Obama’s security teams to help you out doesn’t mean you can’t do a simple Google check to make sure the people you share your e-mail address with aren’t psycho.
31. Research anti-theft software: Anti-theft software like Gadget Trak and Get It Back protects your data even if it’s stolen, features an alarm that you can set off remotely, and more.
32. Stay off social media sites: Sites like Facebook are almost as addicting as playing with your BlackBerry, but they’re not secure enough to visit on phones that hold top secret information.
Remember to protect your network during e-mails and communication on the BlackBerry.
33. Exclusive network: Obama’s BlackBerry can communicate with other choice users who have the same super secure software on their phones, like Michelle Obama.
34. Forget Bluetooth: Bluetooth is susceptible to viruses, and will leave your BlackBerry too vulnerable to hacking.
35. Cut back on e-mail: Due to the Presidential Records Act of 1978 which considers all business-centric communications from the President as public property and subject to subpoenas, Obama is encouraged to cut down on e-mails, which could be sent in the heat of the moment.
36. Track e-mails: Use a special tool like FlexiSPY Light to track and record outgoing and incoming emails, just like Obama’s people do.
Here you’ll find tips for using your BlackBerry, setting up security systems, and more.
37. Choose the right password: Make sure your passwords for your BlackBerry are so secure that no one will be able to hack into your system.
38. Remove password storage capability: Your BB browser may automatically remember passwords, but it’s safer to type them in each time than store them online.
39. Get a spam filter: Make sure spam is being filtered out of your regular e-mails so that you don’t accidentally grant access to viruses or hackers.
40. Don’t set your BlackBerry on counters or tables: When you’re at a restaurant, don’t set your phone on the table to monitor incoming calls. It’s too easy to forget it when you leave.
41. Don’t pay bills with your BlackBerry: Don’t shop online or pay bills with your BlackBerry, as it leaves your accounts open to hackers.
42. Remember that your phone contains information about others, too: Obama needs to remember that his phone contains personal or sensitive information about his family and professional colleagues, making it that much more important for him to be serious about security.
43. Enter your password as few times as possible: Circumvent password prompts to protect yourself against hackers using these tools.
44. Choose black: Get a plain black BlackBerry, which is less tempting to a potential thief than something shiny or colorful.
45. Keep up with security updates and certifications: Make sure your BlackBerry is equipped with the latest security solutions and isn’t running out-of-date software.
46. Set the timeout option on your email: Set up your BlackBerry so that it automatically times out after a certain period.
47. Monitor your own usage in public: Don’t work on sensitive e-mails or documents on your phone in a public place: you never know who is looking over your shoulder.
48. Always lock your BlackBerry: Prevent curious eyes from hacking into your data or contacts by locking it whenever it’s not in use.
49. Activate your encryption software: Check to make sure your encryption service has been activated. You may have to do it yourself after you purchase your phone.
50. Get a second opinion: Obama has had entire teams devoted to testing his BlackBerry’s security and function, and if you’re worried about hackers or vulnerability, get a second opinion from IT experts.