February 28, 2012

All Eyes on Barcelona: Mobile World Congress 2012

More than 60,000 people headed to Barcelona this week for one of the largest annual tech trade shows on the planet, Mobile World Congress. Each year the biggest names in the industry come together to showcase the latest and greatest in mobile innovation. During yesterday’s kick-off event, many newer, smarter smartphones were revealed.

HTC’s One X offers a Tegra 3 quad-core processor and a 8-megapixel camera that can take a picture once every 0.7 seconds. Samsung’s Galaxy Beam debuted a built-in projector capable of shining a 50-inch wide picture on any flat surface, perfect for impromptu “what I did last night” slideshows.

Category:   Android  •  Lookout News
February 27, 2012

Lookout For Your Friends, And Win Big.

Friends don’t let friends use smartphones without mobile security. With how much we rely on our phones for these days, your friends will thank you for telling them about an app that offers free security, backup, and phone locate. Good news— for the next two weeks, Lookout will be rewarding you for spreading the word.

  • Until 3/12/2012 1PM PST, we’ll be running a sharing contest from our Facebook page where one lucky winner will receive a Samsung Galaxy Tablet!  
  • It’s Easy: Simply tag ‘@Lookout’ on your Facebook wall, mention what your favorite Lookout feature is, and why!
  • To be entered into our random drawing, make sure you are a Lookout Facebook Fan and that your ‘@Lookout’ wall post properly links to the Lookout Facebook Page.

Good lookin’ out everyone!

Category:   Android  •  Lookout News  •  Twitter
February 24, 2012

Social Malware? Malware Distributed Through Facebook

Over the past year, we’ve witnessed malware writers employ increasingly complex schemes to distribute malware. From repackaged apps to deceptive advertisements, bad actors are coming up with clever ways to trick smartphone users. This week, malware writers have gone “social” by using a drive-by-download technique to spread malware on Facebook. The process begins when a person receives a “Friend Request” from an unknown person. Curious to learn more about this alleged “Friend,” the person may visit this person’s Facebook profile. Here they will see a website URL listed in the “About Me” section of the page and if they click the link an application will begin downloading to their phone. If the malware is installed on a device, it can send unauthorized third-party premium rate phone services.

While the app itself is a known instance of malware, the use of social media to spread this malware offers a new distribution technique. Through the various ways Lookout detects and blocks malware, all Lookout users are protected from downloading this malware. As malware writers use increasingly sophisticated techniques to entice smartphone users to download malware, it’s always a good idea to exercise caution when clicking on links and videos within social media (especially when coming from unknown sources or “friends”). In addition to using good judgment, follow these quick steps for added protection:

  • If you see a scam on Facebook, don’t click on it, report it. You can help stop malware early on by reporting suspicious activity as soon as you see it.
  • Be alert for unusual behaviors on your phone, which could indicate that your phone is infected. These behaviors may include unusual text messages, strange charges to your phone bill, and suddenly decreased battery life.
  • Download a mobile security app for your phone that protects you against malware.

To see how this type of malware spreads through Facebook, view a video courtesy Sophos Researcher: Vanja Svajcer.

Category:   Lookout News  •  Security
February 23, 2012

Happy Birthday, Plan B!

One year ago today, our engineers released the very first application from Lookout Labs, an innovative app called Plan B that gives people the opportunity to find their Android phone after they lose it. Here we are, twelve months later, and Plan B has helped hundreds of thousands of people locate missing phones that would have otherwise been lost forever.

From recovering stolen devices with the help of local police, to locating phones in dumpsters, open fields, taxi cabs and in the cracks between car seats, we’ve heard many great stories about how Plan B reunited people with their most valuable device. In honor of Plan B’s one-year anniversary, we wanted to share a few of our favorite “Plan B to the rescue” testimonials:

Best app ever! (Jenny, October 4, 2011)
“Accidentally left my phone on top of my car while getting ready to leave and drove off. I scoured the street and couldn’t find it until I found this app mentioned on a blog. I installed it remotely and it pinpointed my phone to my neighbor’s house, who had picked it up off the street. I thought my phone was gone for good!! Thank you so much for developing this app!”

Category:   Lookout Labs  •  Lookout News  •  Missing Device
February 23, 2012

Lookout Labs Releases Ad Network Detector App to Help You Manage Your Privacy

There’s been a lot of news and debate about app privacy lately, especially surrounding what types of personal, private information the apps on your phone should be allowed to access. While Congress is working with Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and AOL to create Do Not Track technology in most major Web browsers that will inhibit companies from tracking people as they surf the Internet, apps have their own set of information gathering capabilities.

If you’re using Foursquare, a location-based check-in app, it is pretty obvious that the app needs access to your location in order to function. However, sometimes apps access info for reasons that are not so obvious. On Android, you have to accept the permissions of an app before it’s installed on your phone, but at times, it can be difficult to discern what you’ve accepted unless you thoroughly read the terms. We think you should never be surprised about the info an app is accessing, which is why we introduced Privacy Advisor over a year ago, and today we’re excited to announce that Ad Network Detector is available for free in the Android Market.

The Ad Network Detector shows you what information the ad networks within the apps on your phone can access. It’s common for ad networks to collect personally identifiable information for use in advertising campaigns, and much like ads served by email providers or social networks, this practice helps show you more relevant ads. Ad networks are important to the mobile ecosystem; the money an app developer can make from advertising makes it possible to have so many fun, amazing apps for free. 

Category:   Lookout News  •  Privacy  •  Releases  •  Security
February 22, 2012

Lookout Super User: How Lookout Saved the Party!

Lookout Super User: Neil Stocks

Occupation: Contractor

Location:  United Kingdom

Lookout User Since: 2010

Favorite Lookout Feature: Backup

Moral of the Story: “I will never own a phone without Lookout!”

How Lookout Saved the Day for Neil: “I had spent almost an entire year organizing my wife’s surprise 30th birthday party. I had compiled a guest list of nearly 200 people, and I had spent hours collecting the phone numbers for distant relatives and friends whom I hadn’t seen in years.

“The day I booked the venue for the event, I typed out a text message with all of the party details and sent it to the first 30 invitees. Suddenly, my phone froze. I left it alone for a few minutes, but it was still frozen. I took the battery out, waited a minute and then turned the phone back on. To my relief, the phone was working again. However, after I powered the phone back on, I noticed the background picture wasn’t the same. I clicked into my contact list and saw it was empty—there wasn’t a single number listed! I checked again and again. I felt sick. Not only had I lost all my personal contacts’ phone numbers, I lost all the numbers of my wife’s friends; it had taken nearly a year to gather all of that information… there was no way I’d be able to track down all of those contacts again.

“Then I remembered Lookout. I went to open Lookout’s application on my phone, but all of my apps were gone too. Once I reinstalled Lookout, I also went online and logged into my account. I couldn’t believe it… all of my contacts were still on file! I started to transfer all the numbers back onto my phone and was amazed that I recovered everything I’d lost in less than ten minutes. Five months later, everyone came to my wife’s surprise party; it was a huge success. Thanks, Lookout!”

Category:   Android  •  Back Up Restore  •  Lookout News  •  Security  •  User story
February 16, 2012

Mobile Threat Reporting: Context Matters

Sometimes in the news you’ll notice that companies use huge percentage numbers to report on the state of the mobile security. In some cases this can be extremely informative but in other instances, the stats are daunting, create FUD and ultimately don’t provide real value to people who want to know how to keep their phone safe. While threat statistics can be informative, as they provide valuable knowledge about mobile threats on the rise, context needs to be given in order to help people understand the true risk of encountering a security threat.

That’s why at Lookout we take a different approach to mobile threat reporting. It’s all about providing context. For instance, when it comes to overall malware growth, we tend to look at the number of malware variants and how it relates to a user’s risk. For example, after reviewing how many threats were detected across our user base, we determined a person’s likelihood of encountering a threat over a year. In 2011, we found that a person has a 4% annual likelihood of encountering malware. Absolute numbers and risk assessments keep things in perspective without promoting anxiety.

Also, sometimes a growth number isn’t the most important statistic to people – it actually does a disservice to people who want to have an accurate understanding of mobile threats. That’s why at times we focus on educating people about new families of malware, the places that malware is being distributed and the variance of new threat strains. It gives people a more complete understanding.

If our information isn’t going to help people in some way, be it protection from an existing threat or the inside scoop on a new trend, we won’t sound the alarm. With the right information on mobile threats and a reasonable level of awareness of risks, we think people can do more with their phones — no fear necessary.

Drop us a note in the comments section if you have feedback for us!

Category:   Android  •  Lookout News  •  Security
February 9, 2012

Lookout for Android is now available in French and Japanese!

Bonjour! こんにちは! Today, we’re excited to announce Lookout is available for download from the Android Market in Japanese and French languages!

Lookout’s international launch began in November with the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and then Germany. Now smartphone and tablet users in France and Japan have access to a localized app that offers top-notch security, find-my-phone, data backup and data restore features. Lookout Premium is also available for upgrade for €2.49/month in France, and 250 yen/month in Japan.

Everyday, everywhere, people rely on their mobile devices. Lookout’s committed to protecting smartphones worldwide and we will continue to roll out regionally adapted versions of our app to countries across the globe.

Can you guess where Lookout will pop up next? Stay tuned for more localized versions to come!

Category:   Android  •  Lookout News  •  Security
February 6, 2012

Smartphone and App Growth Soars: Infographic

Do you love your smartphone? Do you love downloading apps? If you said yes, you’re not alone. Smartphones have taken the world by storm! Check out this infographic to learn more about mobile device and app growth.

Click image to enlarge

Category:   Android  •  Apple  •  Lookout News  •  Security
February 3, 2012

Lookout Labs Releases Push Ad Detector

Over the past few months we’ve seen mobile ad networks adopt increasingly aggressive methods of ad delivery. At Lookout, we’ve been particularly watchful of ad networks that are capable of pushing ads to the default Android notification bar, placing generically designed icons on the mobile desktop, and changing browser settings, like bookmarks or homepage. We’ve heard directly from our users that they find these ads especially confusing because the ads are displayed outside of an application. Often these ads can be misinterpreted as malware.

To give you more insight into which ad networks are present on your device, our Lookout Labs team has released a beta version of Push Ad Detector. Push Ad Detector scans your device for the presence of a select number of ad networks that are capable of displaying out-of-app advertisements. When an ad network is detected within an app on your phone, Push Ad Detector lists the app and the ad network. We want you to be able to make an informed decision about what apps and ad networks you keep on your phone. When possible, Push Ad Detector provides an opt-out link for the ad network.

It’s also common practice for ad networks to collect personally identifiable information for use in marketing campaigns. Much like ads served by email providers or social networks, this practice helps show more personalized and relevant ads to users. However, it is often unclear to users what information is collected. In addition, there are a number of best practices to make sure that the data collection is more secure, such as using hashing to obfuscate user identities. Push Ad Detector tells you exactly what personal data is being collected, and whether it is collected securely. This release tracks six of the more aggressive ad networks out there.

Ad Networks Detected

  • Airpush
  • Appenda
  • LeadBolt
  • Moolah Media
  • Startapp
  • Tapit!

Lookout Labs began development of this product late last year, planning to launch in late February. Considering the recent stir around ad networks and the amount of confusion these ads can cause, we decided to launch a beta version of Push Ad Detector today. As with any beta product, there are a number of features that we will continue to test and build on. Push Ad Detector is a free download in the Android Market. Are you going to download it? Let us know what you think!

Category:   Lookout News  •  Privacy  •  Security