Lookout – protecting your phone from more than viruses

From friends, co-workers, clients, and acquaintances alike all want to know the same thing: “how do I know if my phone is being hacked?” or “does my phone have a virus?” or “can my phone get a virus?” The short answer is: while it’s possible, it most likely hasn’t happened to you. There have been “proof of conept” attacks, but not much has been seen “in the wild” so to speak, at least not in North America. The likelihood that you, some random person of no interest to anyone, have fallen victim to an attack on your mobile device is extremely unlikely. If you really think you have, your safest bet isn’t worrying about your phone, but changing passwords of your email accounts, facebok account, etc… But for the added level of comfort, I advise people to install an application called Lookout.

Lookout is like AntiVirus for your phone. While there are other brands out there, they’re so busy trying to get you to buy the full version that they forget that there is a free competitor already out there. And Lookout isn’t just some wannabe trying to scare people about mobile security, they’re looking out for you. They helped Google identify some programs on the Chinese Android Market that were actually packing some nasty bugs (luckily, this doesn’t appear to have happened in the United States, so far). They’ve also been around the block – Lookout mobile once fully supported Windows Mobile. And even though some people still want to say that these guys are just fear mongering – what have they got to gain from it? Their base-product is FREE!

Lookout has around 15 million users, and take their role as a leader in mobile security very seriously. It looks for those occasional rare mobile-phone viruses, but the basic membership also allows you to log in to their website and track your lost or stolen phone! You can even backup your data, such as contacts, photos, and even call history. Lost your phone and unable to find it with the “Find my Phone” feature? Your replacement phone can have your most important data reimported to it.

Premium upgrades are available, too, allowing users to get a more indepth analysis of what programs are on your phone. Really figure out which apps can read your email, listen to your phone calls, transmit your personal data back to their developers, or even track your location. Take your security back in to your own hands for as little as $29.99 a year, or $2.99 per month. You can even try a 2-week free trial of these features. Other features may vary depending on your platform, but they do have safe browsing to protect you on the web, and even protection while you’re using WiFi hotspots to make sure nobody else is browsing your phone’s files.

The free product is incredible, and I have zero hesitation in suggesting that people install the app to their phone immediately. It can be downloaded from iTunes or Android Market.

An FTP client for your Android? AndFTP

When I first downloaded AndFTP, I thought it would be a novelty app – giving me the ability to access my FTP servers on the road. How quaint. Now? I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times AndFTP has come to my rescue. It’s a free app, and works amazingly well. There is also a Pro Version which allows easy folder syncing!

Not just that, but I really find that the developer, LYESOFT has a TON of useful apps, including a Samba Share browser, and even a simple File Explorer if you just don’t like using Astro or one of the other “defacto” File System browsers available for the Android. I encourage you to give them a look!

ESRB Game Rating Search App

App Wednesdays call for highlighting an App for your mobile device. This week is a short post, not much to review, but it goes along with one of my final posts for my previous website, WinBreak.com. The post was for parents, regarding parental controls on consoles. In my previous blog post, A Parents’ Guide to Gaming, we discussed game ratings and how important it is to take them seriously.

It’s important to remember that the The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is an entity which is responsible only unto itself for rating games: it is not government run, and has existed for nearly two decades. It has done what many consider to be an impecible job of creating a rating system, but really getting the entire games industry to voluntarily take part in it. This gives the ESRB real power, and the ratings should be given serious weight.

But what if you haven’t been much of a gamer yourself, but you’re with someone (your own child, a neice or nephew) who is begging you for that new game. You’re in the store, it could be an impulse by, but should you? Well, now there’s an easy way to decide if the game is right for the child’s age group:

The ESRB has an app. Get it. And use it.
Windows Phone 7
iPod Touch / iPhone / iPad

X-Men for Android and iPhone

There was a big announcement, a while back, that the classic Arcade game X-Men was released for iPhone. Quietly, the same day, it was released on the Android.

Yes, in 1992 one of my favorite games of all time found it’s way into arcades. And until recently, it hadn’t found it’s way into my home. But recently it was released on Xbox Live, then a matter of weeks later, it appeared on handsets.

The day it released, they were asking for $2.99 (which I gleefully paid as one of the first 250 downloaders, according to the Android Market). It is currently showing as only 99 cents, so I would encourage anyone to pick it up right away.

The game itself plays just like the original arcade version, though it does use the re-recorded voices found in the console re-release (don’t worry, your favorite Engrish has been faithfully recreated). On my Evo Shift I noticed absolutely no slow downs, after multiple playthroughs – with several sprites battling it out on the screen I was able to keep up and keep on beating’em up!.

On screen controls were fine, and mostly responsive. I see some complaints on Market reviews of people wishing they were smaller, but I like them the way they are. I just wish the Punch button and the Special button were swapped, because I am constantly accidentally exiting back to my Home Screen, because of the positioning of the physical buttons and the horizontal orientation of the game.

Despite the very few shortcomings of the controls, the game is a fun way to kill time, looks and sounds authentic, and even supports OpenFeint rewards, for Achievement junkies like me (what? Just because it isn’t Xbox Live doesn’t meant I don’t enjoy seeing the points pile up!).