December 20, 2014

Lookout! This Security Software Uses Selfies to Battle Phone Theft

lookout app

You’re on a business trip or at an event. Suddenly you realize your phone is missing.

As a business owner, you probably have much more than vacation photos and a couple of personal phone numbers on your phone. (That’s bad enough, of course.)

But if your phone also contains important business information, confidential emails, credit card or other data from customers or clients, it could be even worse!

Lookout Mobile has created an aggressive security system the company says uses your phone’s own camera to take a “selfie” of the perpetrator. (Though without the perpetrators knowledge, so the company jokingly calls the photo a “theftie.”)

The company says the software will also automatically send that photo and the present location of your phone to you via email if it detects suspicious activities indicating your phone may have been snatched.

Customers buying Lookout’s premium package get the new security features. Those who have already downloaded the security system’s free version will also get this new feature grandfathered in.

The security system is triggered by actions perpetrators often perform after stealing a phone, David Richardson, Lookout lead product manager for Apple operating systems told C/Net.

These actions might include entering an incorrect passcode multiple times, removing the phone’s SIM card, trying to uninstall security, putting the phone in “airplane mode” or switching it off.

Actions that trigger the security precautions depend on limitations imposed by the phone’s operating system.

The software also allows you to immediately notify police and your carrier of the theft and also lock and wipe your phone’s data remotely. Of course, the system isn’t perfect, C/Net reports. For example, the phones wireless could be cut before it has a chance to send the alert.

This video gives a brief overview of what Lookout Mobile says is the new feature in action:

The company sells a personal premium service for $3 a month and a business package with price quotes available upon request.

The business account allows you to secure multiple devices connected to your company’s network, whether owned by you or your employees.

The company’s website explains:

“When it comes to mobile security it doesn’t matter who ‘owns’ the device: Company data is company data and you need to protect it. Whether it’s a company-owned or personal device, Lookout for Business helps you keep it all secure.”

Consumer Reports says mobile phone thefts rose to 3.1 million in the U.S. last year and recently Minnesota became the first state to pass a smartphone anti-theft law. The law puts more security on phones sold in the state but also more restrictions on phone resellers, including small businesses.

3 Comments ▼

Shawn Hessinger - Editor


Shawn Hessinger Shawn Hessinger is the Editor for Small Business Trends. He is a journalist and social media networker with more than a decade of experience in the traditional newspaper business before moving to the digital world. He was the former community manager of BizSugar and the former community editor at AllAnalytics, a site dedicated to professionals in the business intelligence and analytics community.

3 Reactions

  1. That’s cool. Saves us all the effort of catching the thief and him denying it because he now has a picture in the phone. The word ‘theftie’ is a plus. The only question is if the app is available on different types of phones.

  2. Great technology and would be interesting to see it’s application on other platforms. Lookout Mobile seems to be mobile phone theft what OMLIS is to Mobile Security.

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