BlackBerry enhances workflow capabilities, integration into business-critical apps

BlackBerry leverages the WatchDox security technology it acquired last year into three related offerings, BlackBerry Email Protector, BlackBerry for Salesforce, and an enhanced Outlook plug-in for version management in collaboration.

Tim Choi

Tim Choi, VP for product management at BlackBerry

BlackBerry has announced WatchDox by BlackBerry Email Protector, a new offering stemming from last year’s acquisition of Israeli-based security specialist WatchDox. The new solution facilitates integration with business-critical applications, with the first being a WatchDox for Salesforce application. Workflow capabilities within the product have been enhanced, and some new ones have been added. An enhancement to their Outlook Plug-In was also announced, which simplifies version management by handling it through WatchDox.

“WatchDox is very much centred on allowing organizations to be productive with their content by sharing it securely,” said Tim Choi, VP for product management at BlackBerry, who came from WatchDox. “WatchDox plays most in regulated industries and companies with intellectual property, who want to be able to send it outside with content remaining in their control.”

The new integration into business critical apps lets organizations automatically control and secure files sent through email by embedding file-level DRM [digital rights management] protection.


The WatchDox for Salesforce default view

“This is the first solution of an ESS vendor integrating into Salesforce to provide a DRM solution,” Choi said. “It’s not the first time we have done this. We have already been working with enterprise customers doing custom work integrating WatchDox capabilities into their custom solutions, allowing file sharing and rights management under the hood. So broader support for other key apps is definitely part of the vision. Our rich set of web service APIs allows partners to take our API sets and build them into custom applications.”

Email Protector provides an enhanced level of security by placing attached files into an IT-controlled WatchDox repository and replacing the file with a download link in the original email.

“We recognize files reside in multiple places and applications touch files, Choi said. “In this integration with Salesforce, files are stored within secure FIPS-approved WatchDox environments. The elegant part is that the user interface is all though the native Salesforce experience even though the files are in WatchDox.”


An Outlook Receive attachment message in WatchDox by BlackBerry Email Protector

Email Protector automatically applies DRM protection to email attachments sent through an organization’s email gateway based on policies such as recipient or file type which the administrator can control.

“The administrator can select files and apply WatchDox DRM,” Choi said. “For example, a manufacturing company could share data showing a new product with their retail partners, giving access for say 10 days. Access to the content can be set to lapse, or they can revoke access to the content if they see fit, no matter where it is.”

Email Protector also complements email Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solutions, to enforce file-level security based on DLP security policies.

“Many organizations use a DLP product like Symantec or Websense to monitor and track, to prevent content from going outside the company,” Choi said. “We have developed an email protector which sits by the side of a DLP, which we can automatically apply to protect the content, so content can be shared and mirrored with the DLP. We integrate with all the email DLP products.”

Choi said that what is new here is that their solution fully integrates with the DLP solutions, so that if the DLP system identifies an email with sensitive business information, WatchDox will embed DRM security into the attachment before it leaves the firewall.

“It allows DLP scanning to take place, with the data starting out in WatchDox and being passed on to the DLP for security,” he said. “This is ideal for the channel, because it gives them a powerful and complete solution around DLP.”

The improved workflow capabilities include new concepts like Role Builder, online editing and greater Outlook collaboration.

With Role Builder, WatchDox system administrators can create customized permission profiles for unique user workflows, making them available to end-users when they’re sharing files.

“We wanted to introduce the concept of flexibility so the customer can fit it into their workflow,” Choi said. “We’ve always had roles with the product, but customers wanted even more roles, so we gave them the tools so they can define themselves how the users in a workspace engage with files.”

Choi said this is another aspect of the solution that will provide channel partners with new opportunities.

“It gives a solution provider the flexibility to craft WatchDox with the precise roles around files and collaboration that the customer needs,” he stated.

An enhancement to the Outlook plug-in now allows editing in the browser for the Web and Office Online through WatchDox, without ever having to leave the browser, and when changes are saved, they are automatically synced back to WatchDox and stored as a new version.

“This is an extremely powerful tool, where we have augmented the Outlook plug-in to let users send files back and forth and store them as a new version in the WatchDox system.” Choi said. “Version management is such a pain in terms of people working together, but here it is all handled through WatchDox, and you can see the edits. Everything is elegant from a version management and collaboration perspective and all happens within Outlook.”

In what Choi termed a small enhancement, authentication controls have been changed so system admins can now customize timeout periods for specific users, user groups, or by application. For example, external parties could be required to re-authenticate daily, while internal employees might only required to re-authenticate once a week.

Another change is the introduction of Custom Application Workspaces.

“These are for third-party application developers,” Choi said. “All the WatchDox functionality is available through the custom app – but only accessible through it, not the WatchDox interface. That’s the concept of the custom application workspace. It builds a wall between the WatchDox product and the custom application you want to build.”

WatchDox by BlackBerry Email Protector and WatchDox for Salesforce are available now. The enhanced Outlook plug-in is scheduled to be available in the upcoming weeks.