How to Protect the Vault that Sits on Your Belt

 

Have you ever lost a credit card or wallet?  Maybe a purse?  How did you feel – pretty anxious about the whole situation, right?  I bet you ran to the phone and started cancelling credit cards and changing pin numbers.  Now imagine if you lost your wallet/purse, your file cabinets, personal files in your safe, computer hard drive and broadcasted all of your personal information to a total stranger – how would you feel?  Well, if you are like me, then if you were to ever lose your mobile phone, you would be in that same predicament. 

Mobile devices are always going to carry a high risk of being misplaced or stolen.  That is the nature of carrying a small device around with you everywhere you go.  So how would you protect yourself, if you lost your phone?  Who would you call?  You could try, well, your phone and hope someone answers, but what if they were up to no good and weren’t taking messages?

If you’re a corporate user, and using some type of corporate interface solution, like Blackberry Enterprise Server or Mobile Iron, you’re in good hands.  You can likely just call your help desk and have them send a remote wipe to your phone.  But what if you’re not on a corporate network? 

This takes me to one of my biggest concerns as a avid mobile device user – security.  Since I like to put my life story on my phone, I know I need to make sure the security setup is bulletproof.  I need to make sure my data is safe and cannot be compromised remotely.  I need to make sure if I lose the device, I have the ability to find it, or make my data a distant memory on it.   

When I was on my Blackberry, using my corporate BES, I didn’t really have much concern around security.  Blackberries  are one of the most secure mobile devices around.  The problem was moving to an open source Android device that put more emphasis on innovation than security and made me sweat at night.   

 

In order to compensate for the security issues, which I now faced with my Android, I went into the Android marketplace and began looking for a security solution.

In the marketplace, I found various security choices, but the one I liked best was an application called Lookout, which has a $29.99 yearly fee associated with it for the Premium edition (don’t panic, the lite edition is free and still very useful).  There is also a 30 day free trial period for the Premium.  I downloaded the application, after reading lots of positive reader reviews and began playing with it. 

The application, in a nutshell, provides the following benefits:

  • Virus/Malware Scanning
  • Privacy Advisor
  • Data Backup
  • Missing Device

 

 

Most people today have heard of a computer virus or malware.  They range from benign to severe and can cause major headaches.  While smart phone viruses are not as common, they are out there.  Lookout has a feature that will scan every application you put on your device and any file you open. 

Privacy Advisor analyzes apps that access your location, identity information or personal messages. 

The Data Backup function does exactly that – it backs up your data to a secure remote server, maintained by Lookout.

Missing Device is in my opinion the most important feature of this application.  If you were to misplace your device or be a victim of theft, you could go onto any internet connected device, log into your Lookout account and discover the location of your phone!  (assuming the phone is on and GPS enabled)  In addition, you could send a remote command to the phone and have the memory wiped (including any SD cards).  If you lost the phone locally, say for example, you just couldn’t find it in your house, you would also have the ability to make the phone ring. 

As I mentioned Lookout Lite is a free application, but costs $29.99 a year, if you want the Premium features.  Of course, one of the most important features, the remote wipe, is a premium feature, so I would have to recommend taking the plunge and spending the $29.99.   The one challenge with security is how to quantify ROI.  $29.99 might seem like a sunk cost each year when you have no issues, but lose that mobile device just once, and I guarantee you will pat yourself on the back for a well spent investment.

Check out Lookout at http://www.mylookout.com/

 

ConclusionA Must Have

 

Practicality Score 5.0 / 5.0

Practical use – Data / Personal Security

Target Market – people who want the piece of mind that they have taken the necessary precautions to protect the data on their phone.  Especially targeted towards people who keep personal and confidential information on phone 

Alternative Apps/Competition – Corporate Solution like MobileIron or BES, Smartguard