September 30, 2011

Do Your Part: Tell A Friend How to Keep Their Smartphone Safe During Cyber Security Awareness Month

Tomorrow marks the beginning of this year’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), and Lookout is excited to be a part of it. Founded in 2004, NCSAM is an annual awareness-raising effort that encourages consumers to take steps to protect themselves while sharing, storing, and transmitting information online from any device – computer, tablet, or smartphone. As part of Cyber Security Awareness Month, we are posting a series of blogs that detail every step you can take to safeguard your phone.  We’ll also be giving away Lookout Premium accounts on Twitter and Facebook throughout the month to encourage awareness building. So be sure to follow us on Twitter (@lookout) or on our Facebook page for a chance for a Premium account. We’d appreciate it if you did your part too and helped us spread the word! Share these tips with your friends on your Facebook page – we want everyone’s phone to be safe.

For many people, mobile devices have become an essential tool for everyday life, and we often forget that the phone in our pocket is actually a mini computer. With a click of a button we can contact friends, send files, take photos, listen to music, buy goods and even manage our finances—all from our phone. But there are risks associated with always being connected with our smartphone—the personal data on phones makes them an attractive target for hackers. Just this year, up to one million mobile phone users were affected by mobile security threats.  And mobile threats are not just growing in number, they are increasing in sophistication.  Bad applications, links, and websites can now access data on phones and even conduct payment fraud on your phone bill.  It is estimated that mobile malware has already racked up more than a million dollars in fraudulent charges.

Follow these tips below to stay safe, and as we said above, every week we’ll post a detailed blog that give you the step-by-step process on how to do each of the following tips!

Steps to Protect Your Smartphone

1. Set a password. A password is the first line of defense so only you can access the important data on your phone.

2. Download the software updates for your phone. It is important to stay up-to-date with the software on your phone and apps because they can include patches to security flaws that can put your information at risk.

3. Download a security app. Just like your PC, you should download security software like Lookout Mobile Security to stop malware, spyware and malicious apps. With the right app, you can also locate a lost or stolen phone.

4. Use discretion when downloading apps. One of the most exciting things to do with a new smartphone is explore all the great applications you can download onto it. But, as you explore make sure to only download apps from sites you trust, check the app’s rating and read the reviews to make sure the app is widely used and respected.

5. On public WiFi, limit email, social networking and only window shop. Public WiFi networks are everywhere, but security for these networks is not. Be careful what you do on public WiFi networks, and in particular use extra caution when shopping and mobile banking unless you’re confident you have a secure connection.

Enjoy your mobile phone but make sure you are taking the right steps to safeguard your mobile experience!

Category:   Lookout News  •  Missing Device  •  Privacy  •  Security
September 29, 2011

How Lookout located Cynthia’s stolen phone…and helped police catch the criminal

Name: Cynthia

Location: Oakland, California

Occupation: Research Intern

Device Type: Samsung Infuse

Favorite Lookout Feature: Missing Device

What Cynthia uses her phone for: “Calls, text, email, and calendar.”

How Cynthia found Lookout: “I spotted Lookout on a number of ‘best free Android apps’ lists (Techlab, Dottech).”

Other favorite apps: Reddit, Zipcar, Pandora, GasBuddy, Mint.

Cynthia’s Story:

Cynthia’s Lookout story involves not one—but TWO—stolen phones.  One evening, Cynthia was biking home from the subway when a car pulled up next to her asking for directions.  Before she could answer, a person reached out from the car and yanked her bag away from her.  Seconds later, the muggers had sped away and Cynthia was left alone.  Luckily, Cynthia was not physically harmed, but the criminals escaped with her phone and personal belongings.  And with no time to identify the license plate—Cynthia had no hope of ever tracking them down.

Shortly after this unfortunate incident, Cynthia’s father bought her a replacement phone.  While searching on the Android Market Cynthia learned that an app existed that could help locate a cell phone if it ever went missing.  Cynthia remembers that: “Lookout was one of the first apps I downloaded!”

Only a few weeks after purchasing her new phone, Cynthia left it in her boyfriend’s truck one afternoon.  She had locked the car, but when Cynthia came back to the truck, she saw that someone had  broken the window and stolen her phone!  Cynthia reacted fast, “I used my boyfriend’s phone to login to my Lookout account and began tracking the location.”  Sure enough, Lookout showed that her phone was only five blocks away!  Cynthia immediately called the police and explained the whole situation.

“Because I could prove that the thieves had my phone, and show their exact location on a map, the dispatcher said he would send an officer over immediately!” Within minutes, Lookout led the police directly to the thief who was using the phone on a nearby street.  Cynthia later learned that the man who had broken into the car was also on parole for burglary—with the new evidence linking him to this crime he would be sent back to jail.

In the end, Lookout helped both Cynthia retrieve her belongings and the police put a criminal behind bars.   Not only that, Cynthia told us that the policemen on the case were all so impressed by Lookout’s detective skills—they downloaded the app to protect all of their personal phones as well!

Do you have a story to share?
Do you have a super story to share about Lookout?  Has Lookout helped you find your lost phone, back up your data, or stop your phone from downloading malicious applications?  If so, we would love to hear from you.  Send your stories to superusers@lookout[dot]com. If we select your story, you will get featured on our blog!

Category:   Android  •  Lookout News  •  Lost Phone  •  Missing Device  •  Security  •  User story
September 22, 2011

The Arrival of “Google Wallet”

Are plastic cards and cash a thing of the past?  This week marked a significant step for mobile payments with the launch of “Google Wallet.”  This “wallet” application will allow users to store their credit card information on their smartphone and make purchases using Near Field Communication.  Users will simply swipe their phone in front of a wireless reader to pay for goods at grocery stores, restaurants, and select shopping locations.

The initial Google Wallet release rolled out to Nexus S 4G Sprint phone users who can add their CitiMasterCard card or Google Prepaid Card to Google Wallet.  Down the road, Google plans to offer customers many payment options on multiple devices.  “Our goal is to make it possible for you to add all of your payment cards to Google Wallet, so you can say goodbye to even the biggest traditional wallets,” said Google’s Vice President of Payments, Osama Bedier.

Mobile payments will offer an easy and efficient way for mobile users to pay—but many smartphone owners want to know more about the privacy and security of these digital payments before they say “goodbye” to their physical wallet for good.  “Google wallet goes far beyond the security that you have with your traditional wallet,” said Google representative, Nate Tyler.  Currently, Google Wallet requires you to set up a Google Wallet PIN that must be entered before making a purchase. This PIN prevents unauthorized access and payments via Google Wallet (for example, if the PIN is entered incorrectly five times, the app is disabled).  Google Wallet also stores your encrypted payment card credentials on a computer chip on your phone (Secure Element) that is separate from the phone’s operating system.  This chip is designed to only allow trusted programs on the Security Element itself to access the stored payment credentials.

Google has taken many steps to secure “Google Wallet,” but as the momentum of mobile payments build—and more and more smartphone owners begin using phones to pay for goods—security will become essential.  Users can take additional steps to protect the sensitive data they store on their smartphones by following a few quick steps:

  • Set a strong password. A password is the first line of defense in protecting your phone and your data.  Avoid using simplistic passwords: such as the last four digits of your phone number, or publicly available information (birthday).
  • Put an auto-lock on your device and enable your screen to lock after five minutes.  Even if you step away from your phone for a few minutes–this will help ensure that your information is kept private.
  • Download a mobile security software program that will keep your phone free of malware and spyware, locate your device if it ever goes missing, and remotely wipe data if the phone is ever stolen.

Smartphones have already taken on the functions of our cameras, MP3 players, and navigation systems.  As our phones become our wallet, they will be more valuable than ever.  For more information you can follow these tips for mobile payments protection!

Category:   Android  •  Lookout News  •  Mobile Banking  •  Security
September 21, 2011

CEO John Hering on TechcrunchTV: Growth, New Markets, and Andreessen Horowitz

Leena Rao, an editor at Techcrunch spent some time interviewing our CEO after our recent round of funding from Andreessen Horowitz. For an in-depth look at what’s happening at Lookout and all our latest achievements, watch the interview!

Category:   Lookout News
September 21, 2011

The Road Ahead: A Round of Funding to Accelerate Lookout’s Growth

So far, 2011 has been a great year for Lookout.  In the last few months, we’ve rolled out new product features, partnered with major carriers – Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile—and unveiled our powerful Mobile Threat Network that enables us to be the first to detect and protect against major mobile threats. And it is only September.

Today, we’re very excited to announce that Lookout has secured $40 million in funding led by our newest investor, Andreessen Horowitz (www.a16z.com), with the participation of our current investors Khosla Ventures, Accel Partners, and Index Ventures.  With investments in Facebook, Zynga, Groupon, and Skype, Andreessen Horowitz is a leading firm known for backing game-changing companies.  Jeff Jordan from Andreessen Horowitz will join our Board of Directors and be a valuable partner in our next stage of growth.  For Jeff’s perspective on why they invested in Lookout, you can check out his blog post.

In the last couple years, we’ve witnessed mobile devices become the next generation of computing.  Your phone has become your lifeline, and we are committed to providing you with the best possible protection for it.  This latest investment will allow us to expand into new markets and grow our world class team. Since launching in 2009, our user base has skyrocketed to over 12 million—adding one million users each month. We attribute our tremendous growth to our simple, yet powerful security application, and to our users who help spread the word about Lookout and mobile security.

We want to thank our investors and users for their continued support—we’re looking forward to the road ahead!

Category:   Lookout News
September 16, 2011

Take It from The Stars: Stop Your Phone from Being Hacked

In 2005, media outlets erupted when Paris Hilton’s phone was hacked and the contents (personal photos, email addresses, and phone numbers of fellow celebrities) were posted publicly online. Paris may have been one of the first celebrities whose phone was hacked—she certainly wasn’t the last. Two months ago, the massive News of the World scandal revealed that Hugh Grant, Sienna Miller and many more were victims of phone hacking. And just this week, both Scarlett Johansson and Mila Kunis were allegedly targets of a phone attack that leaked private photos of Johansson onto the web and revealed confidential correspondence between Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake.

With the recent outbreak of celebrity phone hacks, it appears that the information on celebrities’ phones represents a tabloid treasure trove for attackers. But Hollywood stars are fighting back and rallying together to punish attackers. Reportedly, Scarlett Johansson is working with the FBI to determine who hacked into her phone and leaked her personal photos onto the internet.

But just how were these phones hacked? All we can do is speculate, but here are some ways this might have happened:

  • Password: The hacker figured out the phone’s password. You’d be surprised how many people don’t have a password, or a very weak one. Once you have the password, you have the keys to the kingdom.
  • Unsecure Public Wi-Fi: It’s possible that hackers were able to take advantage of the celebs phones while they were using an unsecure Wi-Fi network. Hackers can eavesdrop or spoof a Wi-FI hotspot—allowing them to see the login and password information transmitted between a phone’s browser and a website that’s not encrypted.
  • Malicious apps: Applications have the capability to access a lot of information about you and even infect your phone with malware.
  • Outdated Software: Often, software updates include patches to security flaws recently found in the software. Just like a desktop or laptop computer, you need to update your phone’s software otherwise hackers can take advantage of known security exploits in outdated software.

While the recent wave of phone hacks has spurred celebs to take action, these events have also shown how sensitive the information we store and share on our phone really is and how important smartphone security can be. Luckily, we can all take steps to stay ahead of potential threats.

As mobile devices become increasingly attractive targets for hackers, securing your smartphone becomes essential! Take it from the stars: Hugh Grant, Sienna Miller, Scarlett Johansson and Mila Kunis: it’s very important to keep your phone protected from hackers!

Category:   Attacks  •  exploits  •  Infographic  •  Lookout News  •  Privacy  •  Security  •  Vulnerability
September 15, 2011

The Internet of Things…Is this real life?

This past week, our team went to the Verizon Developer Conference in Las Vegas to learn how Verizon continues to engage with developers. One big theme from the conference was the “Internet of Things” and the concept of “Machine to Machine.”  So what exactly do these buzz words mean?  It means that the next wave of mobile devices will not be shiny new smartphones or tablets, they will be actual “things.”  Just think: refrigerators that can tell you when your milk is expired, washing machines that help you deal with tough stains, even home electric systems that will tell you when to order new lightbulbs.

While a refrigerator that can tell you when to buy eggs or send an automatic grocery list to your phone may seem like a scene out of the Jetsons, machines talking directly to the Internet may be the next wave of technology. What does this mean from a security perspective? It means that for every machine that can talk to the Internet, there may be people who can hack into those machines and take them over. Which is why companies building this technology are starting to think about the security implications as well. For example, Ford partnered with Bug Labs and announced at TechCrunch Disrupt SF this past week that they will be hosting the first ever Car Hackathon. This provided an opportunity for hardware and software developers to “hack” their new internet-connected car.  There are major safety issues that could be involved with car-hacking, so it is great to see Ford taking preventative measures.  Just imagine what hackers could do if they got control of your internet-connected car – they could take control of the vehicle systems or even steal the car from a distance!

As the definition of a “mobile device” continues to change and evolve, so must security to keep innovation growing and users safe. While we don’t have a Lookout Icebox or Lookout On Wheels app yet, we will continue to evolve our mission to keep people safe no matter where they explore the mobile world.

Do you have ideas for what “things” the Internet could be added to? Tell us on our Facebook page at facebook.com/lookout

Category:   Lookout News  •  Privacy  •  Security  •  Uncategorized
September 14, 2011

Don’t be Fooled on Facebook; Avoiding High Profile Event Scams on Social Network Sites

If you logged into your Facebook account in early May, you probably saw a post on your wall prompting you to click on a “Shocking New Video of Osama Bin Laden’s Death.”

People who clicked this link were then asked to “share the link with friends” and fill out a survey before they could go any further.  After clicking on multiple links and answering questions, the user would either give up, or would finally realize that no video existed and that they had fallen victim to a scam.

Months later, we’re still seeing similar types of scams pop-up as scammers use the guise of high profile events to entice users.  In many cases, the ruse could lead to malware on a computer or mobile device. Recently, the Department of Homeland Security warned consumers to be on the look out for social media and email scams related to Hurricane Irene and 9/11.

But there’s good news; social network users can follow a few simple steps to protect themselves and stop scams from spreading:

  • Avoid links, particularly on social networks, that claim to have some special photos related to high profile events.  Instead, go directly to known sources of news without following the links.
  • If you see a phishing scam—don’t click on it—report it.  Since these scams survive by going viral, you can help stop them by reporting suspicious activity early on.
  • Install a security software program on your computer or mobile device to protect against malware or viruses.  For additional protection against malicious links, download Lookout Premium.  Lookout’s Safe Browsing will scan every link you click while surfing the web, checking email, or texting.

As scammers look for increasingly clever ways to capitalize on social network sites and email scams, people should be aware of the links they click on and the information they share.

Category:   Attacks  •  Lookout News  •  Phishing  •  Privacy  •  Safe Browsing  •  Uncategorized
September 9, 2011

Quick Guide: Back That Droid Up! How to Back Up and Restore Data Using Lookout

What would happen if you suddenly lost or broke your phone?  We showed you how to locate your missing device if you have Lookout, but if your phone fizzles, crashes, or is lost forever, the next best thing is to recover your valuable data.  So for all our users that find themselves in need of recovering data from their mobile device, we have created a step-by-step guide to help you back that Droid up and restore using Lookout. You can also watch a video that outlines the backup and restore process if you think that would be easier.

Backup

If you are unable to access the data on your phone, there’s no need to panic… Lookout’s got your back (up). With Lookout you can back up and restore your contacts for free. With Lookout Premium you can also back up your photos and call history.

1. Perform a backup: To perform a mobile data backup, simply go into the Lookout app on your phone and click on the module that says “Backup.”  Here you will find information about your last backup and the option to manually perform a backup whenever you want.  You can also perform these actions from our web app – just log in to your account at www.lookout.com and click on the Backup tab.

2. Set up automatic backup: If you want to schedule automatic backups to occur daily or weekly, it’s super easy to do. Once you are in the Lookout app just go to Menu –> Settings –> Backup.  From here you will be able to choose what types of data will be backed up, the frequency of backups, and the time of day you want the backups to occur.  You can also edit these settings once you are logged in to lookout.com from the web.

3. Check out your data online: Login to lookout.com from any smartphone or computer.  You can do this by going to the Lookout Mobile Security website and clicking the Login button in the upper right-hand corner.  From here you can click on the Backup tab and view all of the contacts, pictures and calls that Lookout backed up to-date.

Restore

Once you have backed up your data, you can then restore it to an existing device (part of Lookout Free) or to a new device (part of Lookout Premium).  If you are restoring data to a new device that has the same phone number as your old device, you must first disable your old device and then enable your new device on the Lookout web application:

1. Login to lookout.com with your username and password. Hint: Your username will be the email address that you used to sign up for Lookout.

2. Disable your old device: With your old device selected, click on the Settings tab, scroll to the bottom of the page and then click on “Disable Lookout for this Device”.  When prompted with a notification on whether you want to do this, click Yes and then OK.

3. Download Lookout to your new device: You’ll need to download Lookout to your new device either by going to the Android Market, or by clicking on Add New Device on the left-hand side of the web dashboard.  After clicking on Add New Device, select the Other Ways to Download tab, enter your phone number, and then click Send Download Link.  Once you receive the SMS message, click on the link and download Lookout to your phone.

4. Login to the Lookout app on your new device: Once you download Lookout to your device, make sure you select “Existing User” and then log-in with the same e-mail address and password that you use to log in to your account online.

You are now ready to restore your data to a new device!

1. Log in to your account at lookout.com and select the device on the left to which you would like to restore your data.

2. Click on the Backup tab and select the “Restore Data” button.

3. From here, you will select the disabled device you wish to restore from, the snapshot of data from the date you want, which data you want, and then click the Restore button at the bottom.

As long as your phone has a signal and a data connection, your restore process should start shortly.  The restore process can potentially take a while, depending on the amount of data you are restoring and the speed of your data connection.  (Wi-Fi is recommended to speed things up, if available.)  If you’ll be restoring a lot of data, make sure your battery has a good charge to compensate for all of the data your phone will be downloading at once.  You may also want to restore your contacts first and then restore your pictures after that for a smoother download.

Do you have an interesting story to share about how Lookout helped you save the precious data on your smartphone or restore data you thought you had lost forever? If so, we’d love to hear from you!  Please send your story to: superusers[at]lookout.com.

Category:   Android  •  Back Up Restore  •  Lookout News  •  Lookout Premium