Lookout Mobile Security revealed a free app for the iPhone and iPad today, porting some of its security tools from Android in its first moves to attract customers from that other mobile operating system. Lookout for iOS (download) brings some mobile-specific security enhancements, such as a System Advisor, Contacts Backup, and Missing Device tools, but it lacks a scan for malicious apps and other traditional app or program-based local threats.
This is by design, said Kevin Mahaffey, Lookout’s Chief Technology Officer, in an interview at the CNET office in San Francisco last week. “How do we create a security tool for 95 percent of users? The key problems we’ve tried to solve are the most prevalent,” he said.
Those problems include the Hydra-headed whopper of educating the public about what security risks can bloom into legitimate threats on iOS, when Apple touts the operating system as being eminently secure and many of the threats demonstrated exist so far only in proof-of-concept form. This differs from Android, where more of the threats–such as malicious apps designed to steal personal data or wreak havoc on your phone–have been snuck into the Android Market.
To that end, Mahaffey said, Lookout’s iOS app contains features to address specific current problems. The Missing Phone service, for example, includes a device locator and a “scream,” a high-decibel wail that can be activated remotely to irritate whomever has walked off with your iPhone or iPad. This is a step up from the free Find My Phone app.
More interestingly are some of the features included to address information security. You can back up your contacts and sync them with any Android devices that also have Lookout installed. At the very least, this is a good feature for contact migration.
The System Advisor contains several tools that ought to appeal to a range of users, from beginners to power users. It shows you how to update your phone, definitely for newbies, but also includes upgrade instructions for people with jailbroken phones. Color-coded warnings are used: green means you’re safe, while orange signifies that your phone is at risk.
There’s also basic public Wi-Fi network protection in the form of a pop-up that lets you know you’re connected to an insecure network. It also reminds you to look for a Lock icon, indicating that the Web site you’re attempting to load resolves through the more secure HTTPS.
Another tool collates the privacy control options, and show you how to change them.
One feature that the Android version of Lookout has that the iOS one doesn’t, but is still a legitimate security concern, is some form of Safe Browsing. Safe browsing is most often described as the ability to scan links opened in Safari to prevent phishing attacks, and Mahaffey said that it’s not included in the iOS Lookout because of difficulties hooking into the iOS ecosystem. Apple may like to keep its development circuit closed, but as more people begin using smartphones and making payments with smartphones, the risks will only increase.