The BlackBerry Z10 launched on January 30th 2013, so given Blackberry is a mobile security leader, it seems only right that we take a look at the new security and privacy features. In this post I will be looking at how you control and manage your app permissions on BB10 (which has been built on the ever reliable QNX platform).
Those of you who don’t know much about QNX, should realize that it has been used in the industrial world for many years and is ever present in many luxury cars. QNX Neutrino RTOS (this is what powers the kernel space for the techies among us) powers many things from military and medical equipment to supporting Cisco Internet backbone core routers for the Internet we all know and love. Now you have some background on QNX, let us now take a closer look at how BB10 handles app permission management (this applies to both the Z10 and Q10 devices).
If you use an Android device, you may be familiar with the lack of management when it comes to installing an app but that app requires access to various personal content on your device. It’s impossible right now (unless you root your Android device) to install an app without agreeing to ALL the permission requests. BB10 on the Z10 on the other hand allows you to install an app even if you disable ALL the permission requests (see Bootnote). This does of course mean in some instances that the app may not provide some features like sending emails, uploading a photograph to Facebook or provide location-based content, but you do have complete flexibility to manage these permission settings in BB10. For privacy advocates, this should be welcome news indeed!
- Swipe down from the top of the screen for the status/notification bar
- Tap > Settings > Security and Privacy > Application Permissions
- You should now see a drop down for Permissions and a list of apps below that are installed on your device
*You can also Tap the Settings icon which can be found on the 2nd screen. Firstly Tap > Permissions – the following permission details are shown:
- All – this will list all apps regardless of which permission is used
- Connect to BBM – this allows the app to connect to BBM. Chat or update your BBM profile without leaving the BBM connected app – this includes additional permissions for BBM Contact Invites and Profile Updates
- Email and PIN Messages – Allows the app to access your email and PIN messages, including viewing, creating, sending and deleting them
- Device Identifying Information – Allows this app to access device identifiers such as serial number and PIN
- Internet – Allow the app to send and receive data. This could potentially be used to send your personal data to other services
- Microphone – Allow the app to record sound through the microphone. This could potentially be used to monitor your conversations
- Shared Files – Allow this app to access your pictures, music, documents and other files stored on your device, at a remote storage provider, on a media card or in the cloud
- GPS Location – Allows this app to access your GPS location
- Camera and Location – Allow the app to take pictures, record video and use the flash as well as allows this app to access your device’s current or saved locations
Next up, Tap an app – let us use the > Facebook app – you should now see this apps permission requests – Location and Shared Files. You can toggle these app permission details On or Off – turning a permission Off will not stop an app from running.
Update: Some apps have all the toggles greyed out. This is because these apps were ported over from Android and are using the Android runtime. Remember, only native BlackBerry BB10 apps allow you to toggle On/Off their respective permission settings.
Bootnote: Some apps, when you install the app, you are prompted to accept or decline all of the requested permissions. If you decline the prompt will appear again the first tim you open the app. You cannot change the application permissions later unless you delete and reinstall the app.
Safe surfing folks!