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If my BlackBerry is ever lost or stolen, how do I remotely lock or erase it?

Note: The BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) service will be retired by January 1, 2015; see About the BES retirement. As of January 1, 2013, no new BES accounts are being created. UITS recommends you replace your BlackBerry with a device that is ActiveSync compatible. To learn more about ActiveSync, see What is Exchange ActiveSync?

Note: At Indiana University, if you have a BlackBerry, but do not have a BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) account, you must contact your cellular provider for assistance. Unfortunately, IU does not have any ability to help you secure your device in this case, so the information in this document does not apply to you.

If you have a BlackBerry and a BES account, you have the ability to secure your device remotely. To either lock your device or to erase it and suspend BES wireless synchronization, use the BlackBerry Web Desktop Manager.

Note: You must use Internet Explorer 7.0 or later for this site; it will not function correctly with any non-Internet Explorer browser.

To secure your BlackBerry:

  1. Log into the Web Desktop Manager.

    Note: If this is your first time accessing the site, you will need to allow an Active X control to be installed. You may also need to add the URL to your browser's Trusted Sites; see What is the BlackBerry Web Desktop Manager?

  2. On the left, click Secure a Lost Device.

  3. On the page that appears, ignore the message advising you that no BlackBerry devices are connected to your computer. Instead, look below to the two links for the securing functions. Choose which action you want to take, and click the associated link for it:

    • Specify new device password and lock device: Since this option merely places a screen password on the device, you may want to use it if you think a chance exists to recover the device. If you already have a password on the device, this function can change it to something new.

    • Delete all device data and disable device: This option is simply a remotely executed version of the Wipe handheld command on your BlackBerry; it erases the device and resets it to its factory condition. In doing so, it also causes the device to drop its association with the BES service, so it will no longer synchronize with your Exchange account. Email delivery and internet functionality through the BES will no longer function, and personal information (messages, contacts, etc.) left on the device will be erased. However, the user interface will not be locked out, and devices that are disabled can still make calls and perform any other task not requiring BES activation, as long as the cellular carrier has not suspended them from its network. Disabling a device should only be taken when data on the device must be erased, and is best done in conjunction with your cellular provider also taking action.

    Note: Once a device is wiped, you will be unable to screen-lock it from the Web Desktop Manager. Because its association with the BES has been erased during the wipe, it will no longer acknowledge any commands sent to it from the BES.

  4. Confirm your choice.

    • If you selected Specify new device password... , enter the new password into the fields presented, then click Specify new device password and lock device again.
    • If you selected Delete all device data... , click Yes - Delete all device data and disable device.

Within a few minutes, the device will receive the signal for the screen lock or the device wipe.

Note: None of these methods offers a guarantee of success. To execute either of the above functions on the BlackBerry, the device must be in an area with adequate signal coverage, and also have its antenna connected. For a device that has been lost, these requirements are impossible to verify. It is also possible for someone to counteract the password or remote delete, shut off the antenna, and then disable screen locking, allowing your device to be read. For these reasons, you should have a screen locking password enabled while the device is in your possession. This way, the device is already secured before it is ever lost or stolen.

You will also want to contact your cellular provider and ask about procedures for a lost or stolen phone. Such cellular provider policies are outside IU's purview.

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Last modified on September 09, 2013.

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