If you own a smartphone, you probably do quite a bit of web browsing on it. But how many times have you actually checked to see whether the links you click on are safe or not? Believe it or not, your smartphone is prone to phishing scams, malicious sites and drive-by downloads, just like your PC. Luckily, Lookout Mobile Security has your back with its new Safe Browsing feature.
Malicious sites try and trick people into entering personal information about themselves or, even more annoying, can automatically download malware to your phone. Because of a phone’s smaller screen, users are three times more likely to click on a suspicious link than if they are using a PC (Trusteer Report, January 2011).
Available for both trial and premium users of Lookout Mobile Security ($3/month or $30/year), Safe Browsing reviews every website in real time before the site loads to confirm whether it is safe or malicious.
I got some hands-on time with the new feature last week at Lookout’s offices, and I was impressed with how unobtrusive the scan is. When you go to a new site, you’ll see the small Lookout logo (a green shield) in your notifications bar. That indicates that the site has been scanned and it is safe for browsing. When you hit a malicious site, Safe Browsing will alert you that you hit a bad site and then block access to the site automatically. It will also work within the Facebook app if you happen to accidentally click on one of those oh-so-prevalent malicious links that promise to show you Bin Laden’s body or something equally silly.
One of PCWorld’s Top 100 Tech Products of 2010, Lookout Mobile Security can do everything from track and locate a missing phone to perform individual app virus scans. One of the things I like best about the app is that you don’t have to worry about whether you have the right security settings on or constantly run manual scans on your phone.
Even if you don’t want to throw down $3/month for the premium version, every Android phone should at least have the free version. As Android malware becomes a bigger problem, it is an absolute no-brainer to download some sort of virus protection on your smartphone.