RIM announces BlackBerry Protect security app beta

The company has announced the private beta of an app designed to enhance BlackBerry owners' personal data security if they misplace their handset
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor

RIM announced on Monday the beta release of BlackBerry Protect, an app aimed at introducing security features already in BlackBerry Enterprise Server to a consumer audience.

Among other features, BlackBerry Protect can remotely lock a handset and wipe data stored in it and its SD card, effectively securing lost or stolen handsets.

"BlackBerry Protect allows you the ability to wirelessly backup, restore and locate your BlackBerry smartphone," said Michael Accettura, product manager for BlackBerry Protect in a statement.

Other features of the beta app include a lost and found screen, which users can set from BlackBerry Protect web portal. This displays a 'lost' message on the home screen, telling the finder how to contact the phone's owner. According to the company's statement, this can and should be done once the lost phone has been remotely locked.

There's also a 'find my phone' option that reports back the location read from  the phone's in-built GPS. This is also managed through BlackBerry Protect web portal.

RIM has added a 'loud ring' feature, which overrides any profile setting and makes the phone ring as loudly as possible for one minute. This helps locate handsets misplaced around the home or office.

BlackBerry Protect also backs up and restores user data over the air. Users can choose which data to back up — contacts, calendar, memos, tasks, browser bookmarks and/or text messages — and set a schedule for future backups. After the first full backup, subsequent backups are incremental and store only new or changed data, thus saving data costs and battery life.

Private invites to the BlackBerry Protect beta are due to be sent out to members of the BlackBerry Beta Zone later this week, according to Accettura. He adds that the open public beta will be along "later this year", but didn't give a specific timescale.

BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) already has similar features, allowing enterprise users to synch emails, calendars and contacts between different servers, computers and BlackBerry handsets. An update to BES on 8 July added the ability for policy administrators to manage employees' corporate and personal accounts on the same device, as well as adding other features designed to make managing corporate devices easier.

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