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11/2/2010
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Lookout Rolls Android Privacy App

Tool scans smartphone apps and reveals which are accessing private identity, location, and information.

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The Lookout software takes an image and scans every application that comes onto Android Marketplace and checks the activities all of those apps -- such as whether they request personal information from the user, a contact list, or the device's positioning data, said Chris Hazelton, research director mobile and wireless, at the 451 Group.

Lookout Premium provides additional security and privacy protection with remote wipe and lock features; increased backup and restore when data needs to be transferred to a new device; and priority response to users' issues and concerns, the company said.

While it's still rare to get a virus on a smartphone, losing your device or having it stolen is far more common, Hazelton said. "For many people their smartphone is their primary camera, so you always have it with you," and it has important photos on it that may not be backed up, while contacts and emails generally are, he said. "The idea is that you have images of your data in the cloud with Lookout and then you can back that up so if you change devices or lose one you can get the data back pretty quickly.

"Because Android is a widely used operating system, there is a potential for it to become a target for mobile malware," said Hazelton. Additionally, since Android is an open platform and applications can run in the background, "there is some opportunity for malware to get in. There isn't a gatekeeper as much as there is with Apple, which scrutinizes every app that comes in. Android is more self-monitored so if you're concerned about the amount of personal information on your device, the smartphone is just as important to secure as the PC."

Lookout's competitors in the mobile security market include Juniper, which acquired Smobile, and is coming out with Junos Pulse Mobile Security Suite, which is targeted to carriers; McAfee, which acquired TenCube; as well as several device and mobile OS vendors with mobile backup products, including Research in Motion, Apple, and Microsoft.

Lookout Premium will be available for Android devices on Nov. 16 for $2.99 a month or $29.99 per year. It is available free for a 30-day trial. Lookout can be downloaded from the Android Market or at Lookout's website.

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