If your smartphone were lost or stolen, how much of your life would be gone with it? Apple has had had considerable success with services like the Find My iPhone feature of its $100/year MobileMe service, and now Lookout Mobile Security is looking to bring those features—and a bunch more—to Android smartphones with its Lookout Premium service. Lookout Premium will be able to back up and restore critical information to and from devices (including photos, call histories, and contacts), and will be able to remotely lock or wipe a phone in the event it’s lost or stolen—or make the phone “scream” to help locate a missing device. Moreover, Lookout Premium can scan the applications installed on a particular device and offer its assessment of their privacy and security implicates, showing which apps tap into potentially sensitive information.
“Our phones [..] know who we call, text, email, where we bank, who our friends are, and where we hang out (in the real world). And it isn’t just our phones that have access to this private information, apps can access this information too,” Lookout wrote in its company blog.
Lookout started as a free service last year, but is now launching a commercial Lookout Premium edition on November 16, priced at $2.99 per month or $29.99 per year. Lookout Premium will include all the features of the current free edition—including virus and malware scanning, backup and restore for contacts, a Web-based console to manage the service, and the ability to locate lost phones (even with an online map). The commercial version will add the ability to back up and restore photos and call histories, as well as the ability to remotely lock or wipe a phone, a new Privacy Advisor that offers app-by-app details of the potential security issues with applications (accessing your location, mobile number, serial number, SMS archive, etc.), as well as premium support to handle customer issues and questions.
Lookout Premium will be available for Android devices; users of Lookout’s existing free service will be able to continue using the free version of Lookout with no charge.
Services like Lookout Premium highlight the potential risks as smartphones become more and more capable—and the software available for them becomes ever-more diverse. Just as with personal computers before them, everyday consumers are not likely to have the patience or tenacity to understand all the features and capabilities of smartphones, or the potential risks of software they install. So, just as security and antivirus software is a huge business in the PC world—particularly for Windows—look for security and privacy protection to become an enormous business on smartphones, for both enterprise and government users as well as everyday people. And that’s one reason why Intel spent over $7.5 billion to acquire computer security firm McAfee earlier this year.