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6 tips for staying safe when using BlackBerry Messenger

Utilise a handset's IM function without getting into trouble

BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) - the IM application for RIM handsets - isn't new, but it is growing in popularity. Unfortunately, it's attracting spammers as well as users. Here's six top tips to avoid trouble when using BBM.

Accept file transfers from only trusted contacts

If you follow the advice stated in the first section, this shouldn't be too much of a concern, since all, or most, of your contacts should be 'trusted'.

But if you already have many BBM associates who you don't really know, or by chance, you choose to pay no attention to my initial suggestion - shame, shame! - you'll want to be cautious of the files that you accept via BBM.

This should be elementary for most experienced internet users, but all sorts of nasty stuff can be embedded in various common file types, including offensive images or audio and viruses that could affect your device or connected hardware.

So before you accept any BBM file transfers, ensure that the sender is a trusted contact.

Additional privacy and security safeguards

BBM offers a number of additional privacy- and security-oriented features that you might find worthwhile.

For example, you can choose to enable a security question on BBM invites, for an added layer of protection when adding new contacts.

To do so, launch BBM, open your Options via the BlackBerry Menu key and ensure the 'Display security question on invitation' option is checked.

On the same screen, you may want to uncheck the 'Auto-accept voice notes' option, to avoid unknowingly downloading potentially offensive or harmful audio files.

And you can keep your location and current time-zone information private by opening up your BBM profile and ensuring the 'Show my location/time-zone information' box is empty, as well.

Open your profile by launching the app and clicking on the bar atop your display - the bar with your avatar image, if you're using one.

Avoid using BBM Broadcast Messages... please

BBM 5.0 lets you send the equivalent of an email blast to all of your BlackBerry Messenger contacts thanks to the 'Broadcast Message' feature.

You simply open the app, hit your BlackBerry Menu key to show the options menu and choose 'Broadcast Message'.

In theory, this sounds like a novel idea. But in reality, it proves to be incredibly annoying and obtrusive, mostly because some folks tend to overuse the feature.

Like BBM Groups, I won't tell you to never use BBM Broadcast Messages...but you probably shouldn't.

Okay, okay, it's acceptable every once and a while, but please do so with some restraint. I know I'm not the only one who cringes when I see that purple Broadcast Message text in BBM....

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See also: How to make your BlackBerry last longer

  1. Utilise a handset's IM function without getting into trouble
  2. Back up BBM contacts regularly
  3. Accept file transfers from only trusted contacts

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