September 30, 2014

Step Up Your Android's Security With Lookout

One of the advantages of using an Android is being able to download apps outside of the Market.  How do you make sure you’re protected from malware on your phone while doing this?  One app I’ve come to rely on is Lookout.  What prompted me to download it initially was it’s virus scanning capability, but it does more than that.

Lookout Features:
  1. Virus scanning
  2. Data back up
  3. Missing phone actions

The virus scanning software works as you install a new application. I have yet to download an application that wasn’t from a trusted source, so I have no idea what happens when a virus is discovered.  But it does give you a message in the notification bar letting you know all is well when the app is clean. You can also schedule a weekly virus scan just like you would with desktop anti-virus software.

Lookout is capable of backing up your pictures, contacts and call logs. The back up can be scheduled to occur once a week much like the virus scan, but doesn’t necessarily need to happen at the same time.  Data can be restored back to your device through the website.  And, because you can register multiple devices to the same Lookout login, you can also restore the data to a new device.  This is perfect for those times that you lose or phone or just need an easy way of transferring old data to a new phone.

Options Screen

It may not seem important to back up your contacts if you’re a Gmail user, but I once heard a guy call into a tech radio show that had taken his phone into his carrier for repairs.  While working on the phone, the tech had wiped his contacts and then allowed the phone to sync back up to his Gmail account which wiped everything he had.  He had no other back ups to use to restore the information. After hearing this story, I’m all for having contacts backed up elsewhere.

Lookout also has a feature called ‘Nuke’ that is not yet available on Android (it is available for Windows Mobile devices).  This restores the phone to the factory resets so that your data can’t be used in the event that it is lost or stolen.  Lookout says this feature will be coming to Android soon, but since it only deals with the phone’s internal memory and the SD card remains intact, it seems only moderately useful anyways.  Lookout does say in their forums that they are looking at adding a feature that will wipe the SD card as well, but they don’t have an estimate for when this feature might be introduced.

If your phone turns up missing there are two location features that can be helpful.  The locate feature does just what you would think, it uses your phone’s GPS to locate the phone. In my tests, the accuracy of the locator was pretty dead on.  The catch is that your GPS must remain on.  So if a thief takes your phone and turns off the GPS you won’t be able to find your phone.

Scream is the second location feature.  This causes your phone to emit a loud shriek until the phone is turned off.  I can’t imagine using this feature if your phone is stolen, but I know there have been times when I have had a phone on silent and misplaced it in the apartment. The scream feature would have come in handy then.

I downloaded this app the same day as I activated my Droid and have hardly had to think about it since.  I receive my weekly email letting me know that everything is okay and that’s all I need to do.  When they finally add in a wipe feature, Lookout will be a one stop shop for phone security.  For the price of free this app is hard to beat.

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