Lookout Premium: Outstanding anti-theft protection for Android phones

This Android app offers great help with locating, securing, and protecting your phone

Android security suites generally have a lot of tricks up their sleeves, but Lookout Premium has taken it up a notch with anti-theft and recovery features. The program's variety of email alert settings is without peer. That said, the latest results from AV-TEST pegged Lookout as below par in malware detection and perhaps too aggressive in picking out suspect software.

Lookout performs its guard-dogging by sending information to its website and processing it there. While this saves on device memory and end-runs the need for most updates, it does incur minor data usage. The basic functions that the program covers are scanning programs and downloads for malware; scanning websites as you surf for phishing and other dangers; backing up your contacts, call log, and photos; helping you find a lost device and locking or erasing it if it was stolen; snapping "thiefie" photos and sending them to you via email when certain events occur; and showing you which applications have access to your info on the phone.

Personally, I found the missing device features the most useful, or at least useful most often. You can track the device's location accurately enough from Lookout's nicely rendered web portal that I could tell if the device was in the house or in my car parked a block and a half away. From the same page you can lock or erase the device or have it "scream" at you. That latter is actually a rather loud siren, but it doesn't override the phone volume, so if you have that turned down, turn everything in the house off and listen for vibrations.

In case of theft, Lookout can help you bring the nefarious malefactor who took it to justice. By telling Lookout to send you email alerts (with stealthily-snapped photos attached) when your device's SIM card is removed, or it's powered down or put into airplane mode, you could quite possibly wind up with a photo of the not-so-canny culprit.

Hopefully, recovery and hard time will ensue. Note that this feature can also reveal bad hair days on your own part, so you might want to read alert emails in private.

If you've never contemplated just how open the data on your phone is, Lookout's privacy advisor, which shows you all the apps that are accessing it in the name of convenience and value-added service, will be a revelation. There are some apps you can't do anything about, but some may be disabled to prevent access. Of course most companies promise not to share your private information, but that lasts only till the first NSA agent, or bozo on a mission, shows up.

Alas, Lookout ranked near the bottom of the pack in AV-TEST's latest malware detection test results, detecting only 88.7 percent of the threats and coming up with one false positive during legitimate software installs. The better programs such as the recently reviewed Eset Mobile Security clock 99 to 100 percent recognition without false positives. Lookout related to me that they are on the paranoid side when it comes to software installations, preferring the occasional false positive to letting something bad through. In my hands-on, the web surfing protection worked well, though I am hardly an experienced voyager when it comes to the dark regions of the Web. Ahem.

Okay, there's no way to sugar-coat Lookout's current AV detection rate. The company needs to work on that. Otherwise, it's a great program with a lot of useful security features that costs only $3 a month. There's also a free version that will provide basic download scanning, contact backup, and missing device help. Whoop, whoop!

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