Software Tracks Messages Sent to and from RIM BlackBerrys

Software will likely appeal to enterprises that need to comply with regulations that require them to track employee communications.

Gwava, the developer of security software, plans to introduce on Monday a new product that lets enterprises easily track and find text messages and phone calls that BlackBerry users send and receive.

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The software should appeal to enterprises that need to comply with regulations that require them to track employee communications. Key to the Retain for BlackBerry Enterprise Server is that it doesn't require any client software. That means an IT administrator can manage it fully from the back end.

The BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), which companies use to let workers send and receive corporate e-mail on their BlackBerry devices, already logs data about SMS (Short Message Service) text messages and e-mails sent and received. However, users must view the data in a giant Excel spreadsheet where each row is one transaction, said Mitch Lauer, director of business development for Gwava. "It's extremely difficult to utilize," he said.

"Our software goes into the BES and makes sense of all these logs," he said. Retain shifts the data to a SQL database. IT administrators can then manipulate the data using a viewer that can be accessed on multiple workstations.

On the viewer, an administrator sees a list of BlackBerry users and can view their history of e-mails, text messages and phone calls. The list of e-mail and text messages includes the actual messages as well as who sent and received them. The phone call list includes the phone number of the person who called or was called and the length of the call.

Enterprises using BlackBerry phones can already easily audit e-mail messages because they run through a separate e-mail server, such as Microsoft Exchange. But tracking text messages is harder, and Retain lets administrators see e-mail, text messages and voice logs in a single view.

The software also tracks Pin messages, which are text messages that BlackBerry users can send to each other in a slightly different way than text messages offered by mobile operators.

IT administrators can also view data such as the top ten users of phone calls in chart form. To further analyze or investigate an issue, an administrator can also export the information into Excel.

Retain for BlackBerry can also send alerts to administrators when specified keywords appear in user text messages.

Gwava envisions many reasons that an enterprise might want to use the software, including to comply with regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or Sarbanes-Oxley Act, to investigate human-resources issues such as sexual harassment, or to pursue legal problems such as intellectual property leaks, Lauer said.

While similar offerings exist, Retain for BlackBerry has an advantage because it doesn't require any software for the BlackBerry phones, Lauer said. That makes it easier for IT administrators to manage, and also means that the capability is transparent to end-users. "The biggest value proposition, besides the amount of work for IT to deploy the software, is that the device user can't alter or delete a phone call or SMS or Pin message at the device level," he said.

Retain for BlackBerry costs 40 percent as much as an enterprise pays for its BES server, so users can take advantage of discounts that they may have realized when buying their BES, such as volume processing.

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