Reverse Engineering NICE Call Recording Software

NICE Call Recording Software has been used for over 30 years to record telephone conversations. We received a number of Exabyte VXA-1 tapes from a Police force, in what had been identified as NICE format.

These tapes were from the Police Operations Centre and contained 999 recordings that needed to be digitised and copied to hard disk drive. The police needed to extract the file listings of recordings and then particular conversations relating to specific dates and telephone numbers.

Unfortunately, the tapes are not in a format that we'd previously reverse-engineered, so it was not possible to produce a listing of their contents without considerable analysis to determine how the data was stored. Once the format had been analysed, we were then required to code a utility to read through the billions of bytes stored on the tapes to pull out the metadata necessary to create a listing.

After writing unique handlers to process the tapes, we were able to start imaging the raw data. The data (and metadata, which comprises such things as date/time, caller ID, channel number etc) was found not to be from a NICE system. Instead it was a proprietary format we'd not encountered before. So extracting the audio and metadata was not a straightforward process.

With no more information or documentation to establish the data structure of the audio recording system, we set about reverse-engineering the format which took a few weeks. When catalogued, all the calls requested were on a single tape. However, we still needed to sort through approximately 283,000 calls.

Once catalogued, we sent the client a compressed archive of the desired .xls listing, together with two other files of recordings that commenced before the desired period but ended during it, and commenced during the desired period but ended after it. The client was able to identify the required data and it was copied out and transferred through FTP.