BlackBerry Balance Maintains Strong Wall Between Work, Personal Data

REVIEW: BlackBerry Balance makes it easy for corporate IT departments to set up a Chinese wall between work data and personal data on the same mobile device.

BlackBerry Balance

Balance is BlackBerry's secure mobile container application that's both easy to implement and highly secure, while also allowing users to have access to a full range of smartphone features for personal use.

In effect, BlackBerry Balance gives your smartphone a dual personality that's easy to use but keeps work data and personal data totally separate. What's remarkable is that the Balance process is so transparent that you only realize it's there when you try to do something that violates security rules.

I tried out BlackBerry Balance on a BlackBerry Z10 smartphone running the current version of BlackBerry OS 10.2, which is required. BlackBerry Balance also works on older devices running BlackBerry OS 7, such as the BlackBerry Bold 9900. Balance requires BlackBerry Enterprise Services 10. I used Balance to create a secure work environment that included Microsoft Exchange.

Balance creates a secure container on a BlackBerry 10 smartphone that's provisioned by the IT department. The provisioning can include standard BlackBerry apps, white listed apps and apps that can use both the secure and unlocked sides of the device.

But most apps, including pretty much anything you can download from the Amazon App Store and through 1MobileMarket, will run only on the unlocked personal side of the device. Those apps can be downloaded and used, but they will never even be able to detect that the secure work side of the device exists.

Some apps can see more, however. For example, when the Camera and the Pictures app operate in the secure side of the device, they can only handle images that are part of the secure container created by Balance.

When they run in the unlocked side of the device they have access only to that part, which can include an SD card. Balance operates so that photos and pictures from the secure side cannot exist on removable storage.

The BlackBerry Hub, which is the unified communications service that displays email, messages and even phone calls, can see and display information from both sides of the device. However, you cannot copy information from the protected side of the device to the unlocked side.

Attempts to cut and paste text between messages from different sides of the device simply fail, no matter what scheme you may attempt short of using a separate camera and taking a photo of the screen.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...