BlackBerry gets vote of confidence from monitoring-software maker

Software can be used to watch what employees do with their BlackBerry devices

There's good news for a change for BlackBerry maker Research in Motion, as monitoring-software vendor SpectorSoft today announced its first software support for BlackBerry in the enterprise.

"BlackBerry is very strong in certain places, like finance and government," says Nick Cavalancia, vice president of marketing at SpectorSoft, which announced Spector 360 7.5, an employee-monitoring package for centralized recording and alerting about what employees do on their Windows PCs, Apple Macs, and now company-issued BlackBerries. "The BlackBerry is still in 90 per cent of the Fortune 500. And we do believe BlackBerry is a secure mobile-device platform."

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A recent study that Trend Micro did internally on mobile devices rated BlackBerry the most secure in comparison to Apple iOS or Google Android.

However, the latest SpectorSoft monitoring software for the enterprise, which costs $US110 per computer and $US57 per BlackBerry device, can't do as much to track employee activity on the BlackBerry as on the PC or Mac due to constraints related to mobile-platform processing and bandwidth limit and costs.

For instance, although the SpectorSoft software could capture the entire record of virtually everything an employee might do on a computer via the monitoring-software agent, there is no SpectorSoft agent for the BlackBerry and the monitoring is limited to tasks that involve real-time monitoring and recording email, chat and call-record and duration via BlackBerry server integration. Spector 360 7.5 also doesn't support BlackBerry 10, expected out by the end of the month.

But the software can be used for many purposes to watch what employees do with their BlackBerry devices. The software, which will capture emails and chat, can send alerts to IT managers if employees overstep agreed-upon uses of the BlackBerry. And it could monitor if employees appeared to be in touch with the employer's competitors, for instance, by analyzing call records, said Cavalancia.

Cavalancia said SpectorSoft has had a stand-alone consumer edition of its software since 2010 for BlackBerry that was popular and became used by companies as well that SpectorSoft decided to develop an enterprise version to be integrated into its Spector 360 enterprise package.

There's also been a consumer version for Google Android since 2011 but SpectorSoft does not yet have any for the enterprise for central management of Android devices but is considering that for the future. Cavalancia said the Apple iOS platform technically doesn't appear suited for the SpectorSoft approach.

The advent of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend in enterprises is complicating things a lot in terms of monitoring, Cavalancia acknowledged. Some customers adopting BYOD policies are asking employees to sign acceptable-use policies related to personally owned mobile devices used for work to allow monitoring and the ability of the company to wipe it if need be.

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG publication and website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security. Twitter: @MessmerE. Email:

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