Security

Lookout Mobile Security Plans Expansion Outside the US

After winning over U.S. operators with its security software for Android phones, Lookout Mobile Security is turning to Europe to find new networks ready to install or promote its software on the phones they distribute.

The San Francisco-based company, which counts 12 million users worldwide, is looking to expand its reach with operator deals similar to ones it has already struck with Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile in the U.S., said Kevin Mahaffey co-founder and CTO.

By the end of the year, all Android phones shipped by T-Mobile in the U.S. will have Lookout's software installed, Mahaffey said. Lookout also announced on Wednesday an agreement with the Australian operator Telstra, which will promote Lookout's software in its section of the Android Market.

Lookout offers a free version of its software with antivirus, data backup and missing device location features. A paid version includes remote data wipe and a privacy advisor, which scans applications and warns of ones that may have access to too much personal data, among others. It also has an application for Apple iOS, but without the antivirus features.

About 30 percent of Lookout's users come from non-English speaking regions, so Lookout plans to localize its application in languages such as German, Japanese, Spanish and Italian, Mahaffey said. On Wednesday, Lookout released a localized version for U.K. users.

Operators are interested in offering security software with the devices they sell, and Lookout is appealing because the basic version is free, Mahaffey said.

There are only 1,000 or so malicious applications aimed at mobile phones, a very small number compared to malware for desktop computers. But hackers are showing growing interest in mobile devices. Hackers have modified legitimate Android applications with malicious functions and slipped them into third-party applications markets.

Perhaps the most notorious was DroidDream. More 50 applications within Google's official Android Market were found to be contaminated with DroidDream, which copies information such as the phone's International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number and the SIM card's International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number and sent it to a remote server.

Another concern of operators is that a malicious application could infect many phones and be hard to remove, which could be very costly to operators, Mahaffey said.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com

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