April 29, 2011

Tips To Defend Your Personal Privacy Online

News of multiple database breaches, a surge in new phishing attempts on social network sites and the recent Apple location snafu has left people wondering how secure their online privacy really is.  Even yesterday on twitter, Lady Gaga had to reprimand the person who unleashed a worm on the Internet by hacking her twitter account.

The recent Sony PlayStation Network, WordPress, RSA, and Epsilon data breaches are reminders that companies, big and small, hold a lot of our data online, and while they have the best intentions to keep that information safe – there are occasions when that data becomes compromised. That’s why people need to take steps to protect the personal data that they make available online. Think of it this way, how many sites have your credit card, phone number or even your social security number?

And with the recent news about Apple, everyone is hyper aware of their privacy on their digital devices: whether it’s their smartphone, tablet or PC.  Sometimes discoveries like this are a blessing in disguise; they force the industry as a whole to take a step back and think through how we can all stay safer and understand what’s best for consumers.  Yesterday on Forum (show on NPR), Michael Krasny hosted a segment on location services — many of the callers felt very vulnerable and unaware of what to do to protect their privacy.  Here at Lookout we’re huge advocates of transparency and encourage all companies, big (aka Google and Apple) and small (app developers), to be clear about the private information they access, and their policies for handling that information. The more informed people are, the better decisions they can make. Armed with the right information, people can and take steps to control their privacy and their online identity.   With that in mind, here are a few simple things you can do to protect your online identity:

1. Always Create Unique Passwords. Create different passwords across your various accounts. We know it can be hard to manage several passwords, but if one of your accounts is hacked, you don’t want to give them the keys to unlock your other accounts. Trouble remembering your passwords? There are several password keepers available out there that might be helpful. Try 1Password.

2. Set a Strong Password and Frequently Change it. Your password should be at least 8 characters long and include a variety of letters (capital and lowercase), symbols and numbers.  While it can be a nuisance to regularly change your password, this adds another layer of protection to ensure your private information is safe. We recommend you change your password once every 3 months at the minimum.

3. Update your phone, computer and third party application software. Always take the extra time to download all software updates. Often, these will include patches to security flaws found in the software. This includes Windows, iOS, Android, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Sun Java, Adobe Reader, Apple iTunes, Angry Birds, Google Maps, Twitter, Facebook… to name a few.

4. Protect your phone, tablets and computer from malware. Downloading a security app like Lookout Mobile Security for your phone or tablet and antivirus software for your PC is a simple way to prevent malicious applications from gaining access to your device and your personal information.

5. Be careful clicking on links within emails, SMS or social networking sites that ask for your personal information. In phishing attacks, criminals will use these emails to lure people to phony Web sites that look similar to real sites of the company, organization, or agency they’re impersonating.  Banking, social networking, donation and government/tax sites are the most frequently impersonated websites. Also, check the URL carefully, many phishing sites may have a URL that looks very similar to the legitimate site like paypai.com instead of paypal.com.

6. Only enter your account or credit card information on a site that begins with  “https//” or has the lock symbol . If a website ever asks you to enter your account or credit card information, always check to see that the web address begins with “https” or you see a lock symbol. Open networks, those that begin with just “http” means anyone (including malicious hackers) could potentially steal information like usernames, passwords and credit card numbers, which could lead to identity theft.

Do you have any other great tips you’d like to share?  Add them in our comments.

Category:   Android  •  Apple  •  iPhone  •  Lookout News  •  Privacy
April 27, 2011

Quick Guide: How to Use Lookout to Find a Lost Phone

Every day we rely on our phones to search for, store, and share important information.  For most of us, the thought of losing our phone is scary; not only are our smartphones expensive to replace—much of the data on the phone is invaluable and private!  For all our users who may find themselves scrambling to find their lost phone, we created a quick step-by-step guide of how to locate and secure your phone with Lookout. Share this with all your friends that have Lookout on their phone and stay tuned for a follow up blog post that explains what to do if you don’t have Lookout on your phone.

1) Log onto lookout.com from any smartphone or computer

Once you realize you’ve lost your phone your first step should be to go to the Lookout Mobile Security [www.lookout.com] website.  You can do this from a friend’s smartphone (no matter what type of phone it is, iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, etc), an iPad or tablet or your computer. Select “login” (the login button is in the upper right-hand corner) and enter your username (the email address you used to sign up for Lookout) and your password.  Once you are logged into your account, you will see a dashboard with various options.  Select the tab “Missing Device.”  From the mobile website, you’ll see options to Locate or Scream your phone.

2) Remotely Lock and Locate your phone
This section updated on Oct 4th, 2012 to clarify changes in GPS capabilities
Under the “Missing Device” tab you will see four options: Locate, Scream, Lock and Wipe.  If you currently have Lookout Premium installed on your phone, you should lock your phone immediately.  This will ensure that if your phone falls into the wrong hands, no one will be able to access your phone but you — so you can keep your personal data (email, contacts, and photos) private. You can even create a secret code to unlock your phone once you find it.
If you don’t have Lookout Premium and haven’t gone through the Lookout Premium trial yet, sign-up for it from the website after logging in, then you can lock your phone immediately.  Next, you should select “Locate” and Lookout will do the detective work for you!  (In older versions of Android phones, Lookout may be able to automatically enable GPS on your phone to help locate it more accurately. Once Lookout uses GPS remotely, it will also turn it off to conserve your battery). Your phone’s location will appear in a matter of minutes on a Google map and typically the location will appear within 50 yards.  As long as your phone is turned on and within cell signal, Lookout will find your phone.

3) Make your phone Scream
Once you have traveled to the location on the map, use the “Scream” feature to sound the alarm on your phone.  From the Lookout website, click on the button “Scream.”  If you are on the mobile website, click on the Scream link. You will then hear what sounds like a police alarm that will slowly get louder and louder for 2 minutes. Follow the siren until you’ve found it!

4) Wipe your phone (if it’s gone for good)
In the unfortunate instance that you’re unable to retrieve your phone you should wipe the phone of all your data and private information.  This will ensure that if anyone were to find your phone, none of your information (pictures, contacts, passwords) would be jeopardized. With Lookout, the Wipe feature deletes all of your data, including data on your SD card, as well as logs you out of your accounts like Gmail, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. If you have these apps and typically stay “logged in” this will ensure that your accounts won’t be compromised.

Before you wipe your phone, we recommend you use Lookout to do one last backup to make sure all your latest contacts, photos and calls are saved.  You can also do this directly via the Lookout website under the Backup tab.  If you don’t currently have Lookout Premium, and feel that $2.99/month or $29.99/year is worth the peace of mind, you can upgrade to the Premium version right through your account homepage!

*Have you ever used Lookout to find your missing mobile device?

Do you have an interesting story to share about how you used the “lock,” “locate” or “wipe” Lookout features?  If you do, please send us an email at: superusers@lookout[dot]com.  We may post your story right here on our lookout.com blog!

Comments are closed on this post. If you need help with your Lookout app, please email our support team at help [at] lookout[dot]com.

Category:   Android  •  Lookout News  •  Lookout Premium  •  Lost Phone  •  Missing Device
April 12, 2011

CNN Features Lookout in Tech Tuesday Smartphone Privacy Segment

Today CNN is running a special on smartphone privacy as part of its Tech Tuesday program. Lookout’s very own CTO, Kevin Mahaffey, is featured in the segment to help explain all the sensitive information apps can access.  As the number of smartphone apps grow and app capabilities expand, it’s important for consumers to pay close attention to the sensitive information apps can access and make informed decisions about their own privacy preferences. While most apps use private data to provide you with key features, there are some apps that may access too much data for the features it provides. If you are worried about the amount of private data an app can access, do some homework and investigate the developer, the app itself and download a privacy app that can help you decipher which apps can access your information.

Kevin helps reporter Dan Simon navigate the complicated waters of how to protect your privacy on your mobile device or tablet. CNN mentions Lookout’s Privacy Advisor that was launched last year to help users better understand the information apps can access on their phone in order to gain better control over their privacy.

Category:   Android  •  Apple  •  Lookout News  •  Lookout Premium  •  Privacy
April 11, 2011

Lookout to The Rescue

Lookout Mobile Security is not only keeping your phone safe—it’s helping solve crimes!  Last week, law enforcement officials in Peoria, Arizona tracked down two carjackers after a woman was held at knifepoint and forced to hand over her car.  The woman’s smartphone was inside the vehicle and was equipped with Lookout Mobile Security.  A police officer used Lookout’s “locate” feature to pinpoint the phone’s location and within 17 minutes the officials had tracked down the car and arrested the criminals.  Yet another great story about how Lookout goes above and beyond just protecting your phone!

If you have a story about how Lookout saved the day, please email us at superusers@lookout[dot]com.

Category:   Lookout News  •  Missing Device  •  User story
April 4, 2011

Lookout Super User: Xiomara Fernandez

We have received an overwhelming number of stories from our users telling us how Lookout has protected their smartphone. To honor you, our best users, we are continuing our series to highlight Lookout “Super Users”. If you’ve got a great story to share with us, please email us at superusers-at-lookout.com.

Lookout Super User: Xiomara Fernandez

Occupation: Student

Location: Brooklyn, New York

Lookout User Since: January, 2011

Device Type: EVO

Favorite Lookout Feature: Find my phone

What do you use your phone for? Everything.  Managing emails, viewing social networks, school research, storing passwords, online banking.

What are some other apps that you can’t live without? Dictionary, Hop Stop (a New York subway navigation app).

How Xiomara found Lookout
Xiomara first learned about Lookout from her friend after losing her Blackberry phone.  Her friend told her that if she had downloaded Lookout she would have been able to see a map of its location—even make the phone “scream” once the user gets within earshot of the device.  When Xiomara received her new mobile phone in the mail, the first thing she did was take it out of the box, turn it on, and download Lookout.  Xiomara remembers: “I could have found my Blackberry if I had Lookout installed…I wasn’t going to let that happen again!”

What Xiomara Loves About Lookout
Her favorite aspect of Lookout is the “find my phone” feature.  Because Xiomara relies so much on her smartphone—for banking, calling, emailing, researching, navigating—the idea of losing her phone is scary.  She also likes the “Lock” feature.  If her phone is stolen, and her personal data falls into the wrong hands, Xiomara can lock her phone remotely—denying anyone access and keeping the information on her phone private.



Moral of the Story
“I’ve told everyone I know about Lookout.  I can’t thank Lookout enough for creating such an amazing app!”

How Lookout Saved the Day
Xiomara is a college student living in Brooklyn—she is currently studying for the MCATs and is hoping to go to med school next year.  On January 22, Xiomara took a break from studying to head into the city on Saturday night.  She was sitting at a bar chatting with friends when she realized her purse had been stolen.  She had set it on top of the bar only to look over and realize it was gone! Xiomara knew Lookout could help locate her phone so she quickly sprung into action by asking her friend if she could use her smartphone to log into her lookout.com account.  Immediately she locked the phone…she didn’t want anyone having access to her information.

To track down her missing phone, Xiomara used Lookout’s missing device feature, where a map regularly reported different locations. She tracked the phone every day and she began to see a trend: the phone was always in the same place in the evening.  Xiomara deduced that this must be a house where the person lived and returned to each night. After contacting the police with her findings, she decided to approach the house pinpointed on Lookout’s Google map.

When the door opened, Xiomara introduced herself to the family.  She explained that her phone was stolen and that she had a security app installed that could pinpoint the phone’s location—and that the phone had led her to this house.  The parents looked puzzled, but  Xiomara noticed that their daughter, who stood beside them, looked shocked and Xiomara sensed she knew something she wasn’t saying.  Xiomara explained that she didn’t want to cause anyone any sort of trouble, she just wanted to get her phone back.  She left her phone number with the family and asked that they call her if they had any information.

A few hours later, Xiomara received a call from the daughter.  She admitted to having her phone and claimed that a “friend” had given it to her.  The daughter agreed to give the phone back and Xiomara was ecstatic when her EVO phone was returned.  She even contacted the police again to notify them that she had pinpointed where her phone was with Lookout—and it had been right!  The police chief was amazed and admitted that during his 30 years on the job, he “had never seen such efficient detective work!”

Do you have a story to share?
Big thanks to Xiomara for sharing her awesome story with us. Do you have a super story to share about Lookout?  Has Lookout helped you find your lost phone in the snow, catch a thief or protected you from downloading a bad app? If so, we would love to hear from you! Send your mobile memoir to superusers@lookout[dot]com. If we select your story, you will get featured on our blog. Start sending those stories in!

Category:   Android  •  Lookout News  •  Lost Phone  •  User story