An increasing amount of communications traffic between businesses and their customers is conducted by text message. Apple’s iMessage service presents a unique challenge for businesses in regulated industries, which must archive all of their communications with customers to maintain compliance.
The main issue with iMessage is how the messages are delivered and the fact that the messages are encrypted from end to end. Until recently, no reasonable iMessage archiving solution has been available. Businesses in regulated industries choosing to engage customers with iMessage do so at the risk of compliance issues.
Why Regulated Businesses Need to Archive Texts
Most people think of texts as ephemeral, throwaway communications with no business value. However, text messaging has become an important channel for businesses to reach their customers, not just for marketing purposes but for sales, account management, technical support, and more.
For regulated industries, this means that the text channel must be treated with the same care as email, physical documents, and other forms of customer communication. Many of these regulations specify a minimum retention period for customer communications so that a dispute or audit finding can be properly investigated. Failure to preserve text communications – whether traditional texts or those enabled by WeChat, iMessage, or other messaging apps – can result in fines, judgments, and damaged reputation.
iMessage Archiving: Background
Traditional Simple Messaging Service (SMS) text messages are delivered by the mobile carrier, and in most cases are not encrypted. For these text messages, capturing and archiving company communications is a simple matter, even those sent or received on a user’s personal device. With a robust mobile device management (MDM) or enterprise mobile management (EMM) system, messages on both company-owned and personal devices can be captured and archived without much trouble.
By contrast, Apple’s iMessage service is more like the popular WeChat messaging app: rather than being delivered by the mobile carrier, iMessages travel across the internet through Apple’s cloud-based servers. Furthermore, iMessages are encrypted end-to-end.
This situation presents a number of challenges for businesses in regulated industries that have a need for managing text messages on iPhones. For these companies, an archive of business communications (both internal and external) must be available for inspection by auditors or investigators. The main difficulties include:
- The messages traverse through Apple’s cloud servers, which are proprietary to Apple.
- From the moment the sender taps “Send” to the moment the recipient opens it, a message is encrypted. So even if Apple allowed access to its servers, the messages would be unreadable.
- The iMessage service has no native plain-text archiving functionality, so there is no ready solution for archiving iMessages.
How to Archive iMessages: The Hard Way
Recent years have seen the rise of texting and instant messaging as important communication tools both within organizations and between businesses and customers, especially on mobile devices. This trend coincided with the introduction of the iMessage service, and the lack of a compliant method to archive iMessages has been a pain point for regulated industries ever since.
The question of how to archive iMessage conversations has been the subject of some discussion over the years, and several solutions have been proposed, including:
- Connecting the phone to a PC and downloading the messages to a file
- Backing up iMessages to Apple’s iCloud storage
- Backing up iMessages to iTunes
- Printing the chat log for each conversation
- Taking screenshots of each message
All of these are manual processes that are tedious, cumbersome, or both, and thus are useless for compliance purposes.
A Better Way
The good news is that there finally is an automatic, robust, and compliant approach to archiving iMessage conversations. LeapXpert recently announced the addition of iMessage data capture and archiving to its platform. Now, business users in regulated industries can reach iMessage users while remaining compliant with communication archiving requirements.
With this added functionality, the LeapXpert platform captures and archives iMessage conversations in the background, with no manual steps for the user and no cumbersome workarounds for anyone. For the first time, regulated businesses such as banks and financial institutions can reach their iMessage customers while remaining compliant with applicable regulations.
The iMessage archiving feature of the LeapXpert platform is based on uniquely scalable cloud devices with an intuitive onboarding flow. The system seamlessly listens to events happening on the user’s Apple account, and archies communication in the background, without breaking the end-to-end iMessage encryption.
For more information on LeapXpert’s iMessage archiving capabilities, contact LeapXpert today.
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