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FAQ: Understanding MicroSD File Encryption Modes On Your BlackBerry

I came across a superb knowledgebase article on RIM’s website that describes the encryption of the internal and external file systems on your BlackBerry. Internal means the internal memory and the external is your MicroSD card. It even specifies which folders on the memory card are encrypted.

I highly recommend reading this if you are interested in encrypting your memory card.

The reason I mention this is because there are two gotchas that people run into with encrypting their memory card. First of all you need to realize that when you encrypt the memory card it will not automatically encrypt files if you transfer them off using USB mass storage support. Also when you transfer off encrypted files using USB mass storage they will not be readable. To deal with this you must use the built in media manager in desktop manager.

The second source of confusion stems from the different encryption modes. If you use device encryption then it will us a randomly generated device key to encrypt files. The problem is that you will not be able to read this memory card on any other device. If you use the Security Password mode then it will encrypt the files using the BlackBerry device password. This will allow you to transfer the card to another BlackBerry most of the time. If you use both then you need to combine both restrictions.

The knowledgebase article also has a great list of what content is encrypted on your internal memory.

2 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. So what is the best way to encrypt the media card if I don’t want to use the media manager to transfer my files? Is there a secure way to encrypt it where I can only access the files through mass storage support but if someone pops the card into their computer they can’t read the files?

  2. I don’t think you can avoid the media manager.
    Encryption is such an important matter, but people don’t have the habit of using it and the Babel approach to encryption isn’t helping at all. I guess I could format my SD card on Linux with dm-crypt/LUKS, but then the data would be inaccessible to the device. Linux offers several encryption methods, all different from that of Windows, and different from that of Apple, each Unix BSD also has another method and the Blackberry has yet another method. No OS or device is compatible with any other. Encryption will never really catch on like that.

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