Sep 12 AT 8:21 PM Anthony Domanico 37 Comments

Secure your phone with Lookout Mobile Security

Update: As several of our readers have pointed out, just because I think anti-virus programs are unnecessary on Android doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Viruses and malware are serious concerns, and if you have those concerns, you should be protecting your phone. As always, the choice is up to you.

With the growing threat of viruses and malware hitting the Android platform there is (very arguably) a growing need for mobile internet security suites to keep us safe from these and other threats on our phones.

Lookout, Inc. is looking to make mobile security easy with their Lookout Mobile Security application. Lookout mobile security provides users with the ability to stop viruses and hackers by providing anti-virus and firewall options, the ability to backup and restore your precious data, and the ability to remotely locate your phone from any PC using Lookout’s internet suite.

Lookout is always running in the background, and will automatically scan any applications or attachments you’ve downloaded to check them for viruses or malware. It also runs an anti-virus scan behind the scenes on a weekly basis and backs up your contacts and call history daily. If you (like me) don’t really see the need for a full fledged virus scan or data backup, these features can be turned off in the settings.

Where Lookout mobile security is really useful for me is the ability to remotely locate your phone. As someone who’s lost a phone or two in my day, being able to locate your phone may be enough to get your precious android back in your hands.


  • Protection from the growing threat of viruses, malware, and hackers.
  • Remote locate your lost or stolen phone.
  • Clean and simple to use user interface.
  • Scans downloaded applications and attachments for threats.
  • Application is small, coming in at less than 2.0 MB.


  • Have been trying this application out for a few weeks now, and haven’t really had any problems. Now, this isn’t a con per se, it just highlights my belief that antivirus and malware software really isn’t necessary on Android (more in the Final Verdict).

Final Verdict

I’ve been using Linux based operating systems for several years now, and have never used a security suite, and really haven’t needed one. With Android, I have never felt the need to have security software on my phone, and after trying Lookout, nothing has changed. If you are worried about the rampant growth of viruses and malware on Android, I’d highly encourage you to give Lookout a try. It’s certainly a good mobile security suite, and at less than 2 MB of space, it won’t take up much of your precious internal storage space.

If you’re wary of the need like I am, I probably don’t have to tell you to go ahead and skip this one.


Anti-Virus settings Backup settings data backup missing device Virus Scan running Virus Scan

Anthony loves all things technology, from hardware to apps and games. You can connect with him via Google+ or Twitter by clicking one of the fancy doo-dads above.

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  • Dave K

    If that’s all you need, then use Mobile Defense

    • http://Website chad

      I like mobile defense. However, I think they are taking way too long to update their beta.

      They have done a very poor job of letting the public know when they expect to release an updated version, especially since they said “soon” more than two and a half months ago.

  • http://Website JamieB

    I’ve been using this app since they released it.

    While most people don’t worry about viruses, its one of those “why not” instances. It’s free. Why not. Just in case. Plus, the lost phone feature is awesome.

    Great app, great developers. Why not?

  • http://Website Joe Blow

    How much were you paid to advertise this bullshitware?

    • Anthony Domanico

      Ugh, man up and use your real name next time, Johnny Weir. Yes, WordPress does record IPs.

      No, I didn’t get paid by Lookout to write this article. Kthxbai.

  • http://Website Johnny Weir

    Lookout is a scam. Scare Android users into installing this buggy, crashy app, then blame the problems on viruses so they can sell you a 2.0 version. Don’t fall for this scam!!!!!

    This company is run by a group of wealthy investors that think they can fool everyone (and I think they will succeed). Don’t fall for this shit!!!!

    • Anthony Domanico

      And plus, do we seriously expect everything to be free? Seriously, though there are a few free internet security suites out there, most people are still shelling out $25-100 to protect their Windows PCs, so a mobile company charging $5 for software is a steal.

      Now, that in no way means Lookout will ever cost $5, they have decided to make it free (at least for now).

      • dswhite85

        I use Lookout for backup and to locate my Eris. Had to use it once the other day to locate it with the LOUD scream noise it gives off. But don’t say that Lookout is free “at least for now” because you have no proof it will eventually cost anything, just saying.

    • http://Website Cagekicker

      Uh, I have yet to have Lookout crash or anything on my HTC Incredible, 2.2.

  • Prince77

    I have had this app for a while and it works fine for me. All you guys out there complaining about what it is and isn’t doing, you might need a different phone.

  • http://Website Brouver

    @Anthony Domanico

    Do you know why you didn’t have problems with viruses? Because Linux didn’t and still doesn’t have big enough market share to attract virus creators. Why do most of them create viruses? To get a sense of accomplishment (read it as you will). In this case it comes from causing the most havoc by infecting as many computers as possible. Why would they focus on anything but the most abundant OS? Would it be harder to create a virus for Linux? Of course but it is software and no software is 100% secure. More hackers equal more brain power dedicated to find holes in it. Now with Android becoming more popular there will be more people interested in hacking it. If the hole is not in the OS then it may be in Adobe Reader or a different application.

    Telling people that they don’t need a security application is one of the dumbest things I’ve read about in a while. Soon people will be able to pay by waving their phones at the register. That means at least one set of financial information attached to it. Then there are applications allowing them to log into their home and work computers with VPN information saved on the phone.

    If you are even touching this subject, and you don’t seem even close to the right person for the job, you should be reviewing several security applications and not advising people to completely disregard security because YOU never got a virus!

    • Snafu77

      I guess a majority of the webservers on Earth isn’t a big enough marketshare for anyone to develop viruses or to feel accomplishment by exploiting them all.

      I wouldn’t mind having a firewall app but av I have my doubts about. What known viruses are even out there? It would be cool if it had a db with known BS wallpaper info theft apps in it but how can it detect what isn’t known? Heuristics? Good luck with that. If people start focusing on exploits aimed at Android the kernel/software/network bugs that they are using will patched quickly and easily.
      Sooner or later we will need something like this if only for protecting the other systems we use with documents obtained through Android devices. Saying the app isn’t necessary right now is accurate.

      For a remote locator/wipe/backup solution WaveSecure is great. I have to say that because they gave me a free lifetime membership for beta testing it. It works too.

      *Wavesecure note* you will see a text message from Singapore on your cell bill if you have a sim change lockout or other security lock event with your phone. I was about to get loud with T-Mobile until I googled the number.

  • JS

    I’m all for security, but this is definitely NOT the solution. This is app more like snake oil than a way to stop programs from taking the personal data stored on your phone. All the small practical steps (strong, unique, and regularly changed passwords for each individual account, reviewing apps before installing, vigilance with money-based accounts, knowing things being too good to be true, etc.) usually deter people from taking advantage of you. And if you do get taken advantage of, you’re on top of things to stop and repair the situation with the security mechanisms in place in your country. This app has no net positive effect. It can even promote laziness and a false sense of security.

  • http://Website Todd

    Did you say 2MB? For the phone version? I have a 4MB card in my phone. That’s half. An 8MB is pretty expensive, and it’s still one fourth of that. And the typical ram for a phone is either 1MB or half a MB. 2MB may not be much on a Windows PC (One of the spyware remover apps is now over 100MB), but that’s humongous on a phone.

    • http://Website Roari

      Do you have a brick phone? Pretty sure you have 8gb…

    • http://Website nate

      I think you mean you have a 4 GB card which is roughly 4,000 MB so you should be good with a 2 MB app

  • http://Website Rob

    I’ve been using Lookout for a while now because I figured ‘why not’. So I’m using an admittedly oldish Android phone (Eris), but I feel like Lookout has been using a lot of system resources and slowing the phone down. Anyone else have a similar experience?

  • http://Website Tobias

    Seriously, if the virus and malware threat on Android gets big enough to worry about, I really think google needs to step up and secure their platform.
    If we start having AV apps and shit android turns into the mobile version of windows, and who would want that??

  • http://Website Pablo

    I like WaveSecure more! It’s not against viruses, but you can auto-backup SMS, MMS, and images to their servers. You can also wipe & lock your phone remotely and check on the internet where it’s located. If the thief puts another simcard in your phone it gets unusable and you know which number is inserted :)

    Works great, anti virus on android isn’t needed!

  • http://Website Derek

    Oh great, so now we need a resource hog like internet security for our phones? Goodbye battery life.

    Or just get an iphone… iOS is immune to viruses (well, unless you’re dumb enough to jailbreak it and leave the factory passwords in tact).

    • http://Website Cagekicker

      Oh, so like a lot of things…there’s a weakness called the user? Gotcha. iPhone sucks.

  • http://Website Mike S.

    I’m a daily reader, so obviously I like your site and its reporting, but I must say, you made a glaring mistake in this article. Wiping the phone is not yet a feature in Lookout for Android! Seriously, did you even check out the product (on an Android phone) before reviewing it?

    I sent Lookout support an email about this a while back and got this reply:
    “The Wipe/Nuke function is currently only available for Blackberry and Windows Mobile devices, but should be coming to Android soon, but I can’t provide an ETA.

    Thanks for using Lookout! ”

    I wouldn’t be too hopeful though, since they sent that email in July. Seriously, I have no idea why they’re dragging their feet on this, since WaveSecure shows that wiping on Android phones is definitely possible.

    • Anthony Domanico


      hmm… I thought I had changed all of those before I posted the article. You’re right, it doesn’t include the ability to wipe, just locate.

    • Anthony Domanico

      Ah, it reverted to an autosave version of the post. I have removed any reference to wiping. Thanks for that catch!

  • http://Website Joel

    “I’ve been using Linux based operating systems for several years now, and have never used a security suite, and really haven’t needed one. With Android, I have never felt the need to have security software on my phone, and after trying Lookout, nothing has changed.”

    Anthony –

    Wow. So just like Mac fan boys with their heads in the sand, no need for security or anti-X on Linux?

    That’s a really irresponsible position to take even on a personal level, but to be employed by a technology blog and to seemingly advocate such a naive and dangerous practice to the public is really negligent.


    • Anthony Domanico

      I’ve updated the post to clarify that the threats of viruses and malware on Android phones are real, and that it’s up to you to decide whether or not to use a virus/malware protection program on your phone.

      Yes, I might be irresponsibly putting myself at risk, but again with a long track record of having no problems on Linux distros.

      I’m not trying to tell people to avoid this like the plague. If you’re concerned about these issues, certainly download and install a security suite. If you’re not, don’t. It’s up to you.

      • http://Website Joel

        Anthony -

        Fair enough, but I think you’ve missed the mark a bit again. The internet is a community and viruses and exploits spread and proliferate via insecure, unprotected systems.

        Just because you think, or your experience (talking about any individual here, not necessarily you) is that you don’t believe you’ve ever been exploited by a virus or hacker (how would you really know, given a seemingly rather non-existent knowledge of computer security issues?) doesn’t mean you haven’t. And when you become an exploited host, it’s your system that is used to attack the next system, and the next, and the next… etc.

        So not taking care of security issues on internet connected hosts isn’t just a matter of personal preference (as you seem to imply here), rather it the right thing to do, it’s neighborly and quite necessary to maintain community standards. Spreading the ignorance that systems can’t be, aren’t, or not likely to be exploited, regardless of the platform, is really dangerous to all – not just the individual.

        I am in no way advocating for this particular piece of software, as I’ve never used it. But all internet connected systems should implement best practice security despite the fact it can be a bit of a hassle or the fact you think you’re invulnerable for whatever reason.


    • http://Website Kevin

      I’m in agreement with Anthony on this, you don’t need third party antivirus apps.

      * To date there have been no self replicating viruses on Android. The suspected malware that has been identified was removed from the Market and Google exercised their remote kill switch.

      * The existing Android security model requires user interaction for installation. All of the app permissions are clearly displayed to the user during install.

      * None of the Android antivirus apps (e.g., Lookout, Norton, Antivirus, etc.) can provide zero day protection. At best they listen for the package installed intent then do signature based detection.

      * Even if a kernel exploit was in the wild I highly doubt a sandboxed third party app such as Lookout can protect you. You’ll need an OTA patch from Google, OEM or your mobile operator.

      • http://Website Joel

        Well Look Here…

        As I get the downvotes for promoting that Android like any platform is vulnerable and is in need of security:

        “Adobe has issued a security advisory to users of Flash Player for desktop and for Android. In those versions of Flash is a vulnerability that allows people with ill intentions to crash or take control of the device. Adobe says that it’s working on a fix that will be delivered beginning September 27, 2010.”


        Shocking revelation, I know.

        Carry on fools. Carry on.

        • http://Website Kevin

          The point in contention is the need for third party antivirus apps on Android, specifically Lookout. However, you want to turn this into a vague discussion about pseudo threats and general computer security.

          How does an Adobe Flash bug justify the need for third party antivirus apps on Android? Besides prompting users to uninstall Flash, which Google could do automatically if the threat was high enough, how does a sandboxed third party antivirus app protect against this?

          • http://Website Joel

            No, not specifically Lookout. I did say I cannot endorse that specific product.

            However, I am advocating for security best practices on any and all platforms including Android. This includes effective Anti-X as soon as it is available. To take the stance that Android, or any platform for that matter, is somehow built in such a way it does not need security has proven over and over to be nonsense and dangerous.

            As far as Adobe, or other Android Apps, being effectively sand-boxed – that is not entirely true. Specifically in contention would be the effective part. The disclosed Adobe vulnerability allows a remote attacker to control the entire system.

            I do not know, and in fact doubt, Lookout can protect against this in it’s current state. But again, effective security systems are needed. They do not necessarily have to be third party – google, handset integrators such as Samsung HTC or even carriers like AT&T, Verizon could build them, but whatever the source they are needed. These new handsets are vulnerable and do need security. Planting one’s head in the sand is not going to cut it.

  • http://Website Chancy

    This is laughable to say the least. Android is based on linux which = no virus. Nice try…

  • http://Website Alexandros

    When android syncs everything with your google account, why do you need a backup application? Additionally, when everything is being backup in the background, even IF you get a virus you do a factory reset and then re-connect your google account and thats it… Worry-free plan :P

    • Snafu77

      Android doesn’t back up all your photos, sms messages etc. It is also possible to lose your contacts or other Google data through a variety of problems. Another safe and verified backup in the cloud somewhere never hurts. I wouldn’t go to them for that service though. WaveSecure has a much better history and is now part of the well known antivirus software company McAfee. You can also backup information with Astro for free and store it on your home computer.

  • http://Website Joel

    Alexandros -

    Not quite. It doesn’t back everything up by. And even if it did the virus can take advantage of that facility and over write the data in the backups as well.

    If backups were the answer to all security a lot of corporations are going about it the wrong way! They backup, and deploy armies of people to manage firewalls, IPS, Anti-Virus, etc. Waste of time?

    Chancy -

    No viruses or exploits on Linux, huh?

    Kevin -

    Perhaps not known yet. In any event, virus or not, my thoughts were not specific to android. Anyone with any system on the internet should use best practice security rather than pretend they can not be exploited, or be indifferent – “Hell, I’ll just rebuild’… meanwhile your ‘invulnerable’ system was used to attack other systems and destroy data.

    Security by obscurity is a ludicrous principle.

  • http://Website Prakash

    I used lookout on my old lg ally. It was a major battery drainer. battery life improved after I uninstalled this app. I have not used any anti virus on my samsung fascinate, though.

  • http://Website Richard Bloom

    Something’s obviously wrong with my phone… yet it detects nothing! What bull!