Mobile Security Needs Rise with Smartphone Sales

As the world moves from feature phones to smartphones, more personal data will be stored locally or available through the cloud on the handheld we tote everywhere.

That's both good and bad.

Having instant access to our information is a time saver and allows us to do more on the go. Putting that valuable information in someone else's hands through a lost or stolen phone, however, can be a nightmare. Based on this scenario, then, I'm not surprised to hear that Lookout, a cloud-based smartphone security company, has announced a doubling of its user base in the past two months: Lookout now boasts 2 million registered members.

Similar to Apple's (AAPL) Find My Phone feature for its Mobile Me service, Lookout caters to other platforms, including Android (GOOG), Windows Mobile (MSFT), and BlackBerry (RIMM). Lookout goes beyond finding a lost phone, although the company claims to have found a lost phone every 15 seconds, on average, over the past two months. If the worst happens and a phone is lost, Lookout users can remotely wipe the phone's data. The software offers protection from malware and viruses; few have popped up in the mobile world compared with the desktop market, but this layer of protection is welcome. Lookout also backs up personal data, including contacts, photos, video, e-mail, and text messages. Users can restore the data from cloud to handset as needed, and Lookout reports that it has more than 625 million contacts from users to date.

Smartphones Catch On

Safe mobile computing isn't a new concept, by any means. Indeed, Stacey recently offered tips to protect handsets and the data contained on them. So what's changed recently? The sheer number of smartphones sold. Consumers are finally beginning to embrace the mobile Web by purchasing connected handsets with enough power to provide a pleasant experience. The estimated number of smartphones that will sell this year rivals the expected number of notebook computers to be sold … in 2014. With high smartphone adoption rates and a reliance on the devices for our personal data, it's high time that safe mobile computing take center stage.

In the past, I've used a solution similar to Lookout called WaveSecure, which was recently purchased by McAfee (MFE) and is now owned by Intel (INTC), as Intel agreed to buy McAfee last month for $7.68 billion. How are you protecting your mobile data? Or do you think this isn't a problem that needs a solution?

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