Meet the Makers: Lookout Mobile Security - Labs

by Kristen Nicole

Lookout Mobile Security has taken on the challenge of securing our Android devices, making an early entry into the mobile sector. Dedicating itself to this emerging market, Lookout’s been able to build a brand and a product line that’s tailored for our mobile lives.

Lookout already has free and premium mobile security offerings. Recently funded with $19.5 million, Lookout is ready to take on new challenges, launching Lookout Labs this week. The goal is to find creative and innovative ways to help mobile users gain a sense of security, even beyond viruses and malware attacks. Lookout Labs’ first project is Plan B, giving you a way to locate your phone even if you haven’t installed Lookout’s app on your Android.

Company Name: Lookout Mobile Security

Notable Apps: Lookout Mobile Security, Plan B

Platforms: Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile

Specialty Genres: Security, data management and protection

1.       What is Lookout Labs and what is your first project all about?

Lookout Labs was created to explore and try out new ideas that push the bounds of mobile apps. Projects developed in Lookout Labs are experimental by nature and are developed to showcase new ideas and facilitate an exchange between Lookout and the mobile community. Our engineers and other staff come up with new ideas every day, and we wanted a way to get the best ones implemented and released to the market quickly.

Plan B is an app that can pinpoint a missing phone on a Google map. That alone is nothing new -- it's been a core feature of Lookout Mobile Security since we first launched. What's different is that this app can be downloaded and installed AFTER the phone is already lost. It uses the new web-based version of the Android Market, which lets users securely install apps over the web even if they don't have their phone with them. When downloaded, no additional action is required, just hit install and wait for the location email.

One of our lead engineers had the idea for Plan B when he saw the new web version of the Android Market. We often hear from people who have lost their phone without Lookout installed and want help finding it. In the past we haven't been able to help them, but now Plan B will enable us do that.

2.       This is really using the cloud for remote management, and you're using its openness to provide a sense of security. What other ways can Lookout leverage the cloud?

Cloud connectivity is core to all of Lookout's features, including security, missing device recovery and backup. On the security side, we use the cloud to perform deep analysis on every Android app, so our users are protected without the app using a lot of processing and battery power on the device.  Our App Genome Project, which leverages the cloud, aggregates real-time data from millions of phones around the world and analyzes over 500k apps from official and alternative app stores to rapidly identify threats and respond faster. It maps the anatomy of mobile applications across multiple mobile platforms and app markets to provide visibility into mobile market dynamics, helps us gain insight into how mobile apps access personal data and sensitive capabilities on mobile devices, and identify security threats in the wild.

3.       So what do you think of the web version of the Android Market so far?

We are really excited to see the web Android Market. Not only does it provide Android users with another way to explore apps, it also gives developers, like Lookout, new ways to engage with the Android community – as we did with Plan B. Without the web Android Market, Plan B would not be possible.  The online synchronization capability available in the Android Market website is what makes Plan B so powerful.

4.       Is there a comparable iPhone app?

At this time, Lookout is available on BlackBerry, Android and Windows Mobile. As we expand to other platforms, we will be sure to include Lookout Labs initiatives that touch other mobile OS platforms.

5.       What else can we expect to see from Lookout Labs?

Lookout Labs will continue to produce new, innovative and fun projects like Plan B to engage with the mobile community. This is where we'll be exploring our most innovative ideas, so hopefully each release has an element of, "wow, how'd they do THAT?"