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App Friday: Lookout Security & Antivirus

lookout logoApple could boast that Mac OS didn’t need antivirus software. As popularity for the company’s products rose however, such a claim stood out like a big invitation to hackers and now companies like McAfee and Kaspersky make Mac software just as they’ve been making Windows software.

By the same logic, people would have never expected to be bringing antivirus software to their phones, but sure enough, spurious apps and sinister mobile services have crept onto one of our most prized pieces of technology, a place where all manner of personal and sensitive information may lie. In response to these new threats, companies have been working hard to produce an effective defense, tailored to suit the mobile world.

Lookout is one such company, but unlike its rivals such as McAfee, who have designated a mobile division, Lookout’s business is 100% mobile security. The San Francisco-based developer has produced security apps for both iOS and Android. 

The aim of the app is to take the fear out of malware; the company’s positive approach to security twinned with the automated services means that the end-user doesn’t have to worry about threats, enabling them to use their smartphone care free.

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The key advantage to the company’s application lies in its infrastructure. With regards to virus detection, any threats picked up by a single device are then identified and updated in the databases of every Lookout user’s phone. Aside from virus detection, the app actually adopts multiple roles, standing in as an equivalent to ‘Where’s my droid’, allowing users to find, lock, wipe, or call their device remotely if it gets lost or stolen. The third piece of the puzzle is a backup service, which enables users to both backup to and restore from Lookout’s secure servers. 

The capabilities of the app justifiably place it as one of the most complete security solutions in the mobile space. The download is lightweight and fast and after the initial signup process, it’s a case of leaving it to do its thing. You’re aware of Lookout’s presence by the small icon in the notifications bar if you’re on Android and a swipe down should reveal a friendly message saying “Everything is OK”, unless of course, it isn’t, but fortunately in the weeks we’ve been testing the app, we haven’t run into any notable problems.

The company have also spent a lot of time ensuring battery usage is kept to a minimum, as its purpose is to be unobtrusive. A rule that has to apply to both software and hardware, which as far as we could tell was unaffected during our tests.

We spent some time with co-founder and CEO Kevin Mahaffey, who explained that going forward, the company intends to work with local governments and police forces to help educate and improve the nature of mobile security in modern society. 

Lookout is available for both Android and iOS, with upgrade availability from within the app. The full feature set provides the user with an app scanner to identify spurious apps, app tracker which logs which apps access your private data, a browser scanner which checks websites for both phishing and malware and the aforementioned backup and phone location services.


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