What Is BlackBerry PIN Messaging?

Blackberry Bold 9700
BlackBerry Ltd

BlackBerry devices each have a unique ID, otherwise known as a PIN (Personal Identification Number). BlackBerry users can use their device PINs to send messages to other BlackBerry users in a setup that's also known as peer-to-peer messaging.

BlackBerry scrambles PIN messages but does not actually encrypt them, and it's possible for other BlackBerry users to intercept them. For this reason, you should not use PIN-to-PIN messaging to share sensitive information.

Which BlackBerry Devices Support PIN Messaging?

BlackBerry 10, 7 OS and earlier support PIN messaging. BlackBerry OS was discontinued with the release of BlackBerry 10, which in turn was replaced by the Android operating system in 2017.

How Does PIN Messaging Work?

The PIN is a string of eight alphanumeric characters that is hardcoded into your BlackBerry and cannot be changed. The BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) recognizes your BlackBerry by its PIN, so it knows where to deliver your email messages. BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) uses the PIN protocol to deliver messages to other BlackBerry users.

PIN messaging is simply sending a message using the BlackBerry PIN protocol from one BlackBerry directly to another BlackBerry. PIN messages do not traverse the internet, and they appear in the BlackBerry Messaging application along with email messages.

If you have friends on BBM that you would like to send direct PIN messages to, you can retrieve their PIN from their BBM contact. If you have your BBM contact in your BlackBerry's Contacts, you can link it to their BBM contact so that you can send them PIN messages straight from the BlackBerry Contact list.

How Secure Is PIN Messaging?

If you choose to give out your BlackBerry’s PIN, remember that it cannot be changed, so keep your BlackBerry's security in mind and give your PIN only to people you trust.

Further, BlackBerry specifically states that a PIN message should be considered "scrambled, but not encrypted." This means that any BlackBerry device can access and read any message it receives, even if that device is not the intended recipient. 

BlackBerry offers an enterprise encryption service, BBM Protected, that can encrypt BBM messages between devices.

Non-PIN BBM Messaging With Users on Non-BlackBerry Devices

If you have a BlackBerry and want to communicate with contacts who have non-BlackBerry devices, such as Android, iOS, and Windows, you cannot use PIN messaging — but you can still take advantage of BBM messaging to pass messages back and forth.

First, your contact needs to install the BBM Messenger app for the appropriate platform. You can then search the app on your BlackBerry to find them and add them to your BBM contacts.