Security on crackberries

Just reading this article at CSO on the dangers of using mobile devices and it specifically mentions the John McCain incident:

…officials with John McCain’s campaign mistakenly sold a Blackberry to a Fox television reporter for US$20 in a fire sale…

News like this makes me glad that the most of our clients that use either Blackberries or Windows Mobile devices are using Handheld Contact (aka HHC) to sync their data to their handheld.

I AM GLAD because Handheld Contact has an option on the server side to “Erase data from handheld” which will erase all data sent to the handheld by HHC which is all the contact info for all the contacts.

If a client loses their Blackberry, all it takes is a phone call to their system admin (or me), a couple of mouse clicks and a large chunk of sensitive information is removed from the Blackberry.

[cross-posted here]

Why HandHeldContact

Talking with Mike Lazarus, self described and evident ACT! Evangelist, about HHC (aka HandHeldContact) and he passed on a list he has of some of the HHC advantages (in no particular order):

  • No need to set up on each user’s PC – faster installation and implementation
  • Central administration – including profiles for multiple users and the ability to delete the database from a device remotely
  • Supports – Terminal services, Citrix, Web
  • Syncs wirelessly up to every 15 minutes
  • Uses its own database, so no sudden duplication of the database as happens in most of the link products.
  • Automatically send important contacts based on activities scheduled or dynamic groups
  • Records Calls, Emails and SMS made from HHC on the device
  • Up to 76 ACT! fields (26 standard and 50 user-definable)
  • Pop-ups (pull-downs) optionally sent to better support data entry
    i.e. if you have an ID STATUS field, HHC will sync the possible values for this field so that when you add a contact via the PDA you have those fields available
  • Adding activities on the device sync correctly to the right contact
  • Ability to create activities WITH multiple contacts
  • View and Schedule activities for other ACT! users
  • New build to support ACT!’s Custom Activity Types due very soon

At Evolution Marketing, I’ve been playing with HHC for a few clients. Setting up and deploying the HHC is easy. I’ve simply had people visit a URL, follow the prompts and with little work on the server end, which I’ve been doing remotely to the server, and within 30 min they have their Contacts, task and Calender on the Blackberry. Not only that but I’ve been setting it up so they can see selected calenders of other users. For me this is a major difference between using MS Exchange and ActiveSync.

So far, I haven’t setup HHC on a Windows Mobile device, but the documentation says it can be done. I hope it is as easy as the BB version.

[update: Mike has just said it is the same on WM6, also said setup time for 1 or two users is almost same as setting up 30 users, it only adds 2 min per user, which I can readily believe given the experience I’ve had so far. And if someone schedules an appointment or activity for you with a contact that you are not currently sync’ing to your PDA, then HHC will automagically include that contact on the next sync, how cool is that?]

Evolving the ACT

It is now two weeks in to my new digs at Evolution Marketing – and it sure is fun.

Primarily I’ve been learning how to drive ACT!, software to take care of your contact management. Yesterday and today I’ve been playing with custom tables in the ACT! MS-SQL database. While ACT! looks after contacts and tasks, meetings & calls to do with your contacts really well, some clients would like to be able to do even more, like handle job sheets etc. Which is the reason for the custom tables. These allow us to track all sorts of other information and connect them to contacts & companies.

I’ve also setup a Blackberry Bold simulator and a Windows Mobile 6 Emulator, this allows me to experience the same things as our clients, notably HandHeldContact, which allows you to sync multiple calenders, notes, histories etc to your phone – loads more than MS Exchange alone allows.

To paraphrase the paragraphs above, I’m having fun learning new stuff!

The other staff at Evolution are great to work with, the coffee is good and all the tech toys I’ve asked for have been delivered, with the exception of the telephone headset, but it is on the way so they’re forgiven ;-). Woot!

Update 20th Oct: Got the telephone headset on Friday afternoon. Cool.