Lookout Mobile Security
One day while I was riding the bus, a would-be thief tried to snatch my phone. Luckily, I was able to keep a firm grip on it and keep him from stealing my precious piece of technology. These types of scenarios make me remember why having some sort of protection-and back-up-for your phone is absolutely necessary. The Lookout app for Android offers up a triple-threat of protection for your phone--and it's completely free.
The app's interface is incredibly straightforward. Three panels show the modes of protection and their status. If your phone is up-to-date on all fronts, you'll see green checkmarks for each panel. If there's something that needs attention, you'll see a yellow triangle with an exclamation point.
First, Lookout offers a mobile anti-virus scanner. Mobile viruses are a very new threat, but it is better to be safe than sorry. You don't need to be a security expert either to run a scan on your phone. You just press the "Run Virus Scan" button and it goes to work scanning all of your applications for viruses. It also self-activates every time you download a new app and scan it for any threats. It will then verify via the notifications.
Next, you can back up your personal data including your contacts, photos, videos, e-mails and text messages. You can manage your data and see what has been backed up in Lookout's browser-based dashboard.
Last, if you lose your phone, you can track it with the Lookout browser-based dashboard. You can also sound an alarm (or make it "scream," as Lookout puts it) to freak out that shady thief. And even better, you can do a remote-wipe of the device so the thief can't get access to your data.
What I like most about this app is how unobtrusive it is. You can schedule automatic data back-ups and anti-virus scans so you'll never have to worry about your phone not being up-to-date in case of an emergency. Unlike PC desktop security software, there aren't any annoying pop-ups constantly reminding you to update your software. It also doesn't freeze up all of your open apps when it scans for viruses.
Lookout is currently free for Android phones, making it a must-have for Android owners. You wouldn't leave your PC unprotected, so why should it be any different for your phone? And Lookout is such an easy-to-use, low maintenance app, you'll hardly know it's there--until you need it.
Note: The "Download Now" button takes you to the vendor's site, where you can download the version of the software appropriate to your smartphone. For the Android version, please see PCWorld's Android AppGuide.