Ina Fried

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Lookout Expands to Protecting Entire App Stores, Starting With Verizon

Lookout Mobile Security, a San Francisco start-up that specializes in smartphone security software, is moving from protecting individual devices to also offering its service to those running app stores.

Lookout CEO John Hering said the goal is to take the technology and know-how the company has gained from tracking threats and securing roughly 10 million phones and make it available to others in the Android ecosystem, starting with those that distribute apps. Much of the malware that has been crafted for phones has been distributed by bolting it onto existing programs and then delivering the infected apps via various marketplaces.

“It’s incredibly important that we maintain trust and confidence in the overall ecosystem,” Hering said.

The first company to partner with Lookout for the service is Verizon, which will tap Lookout’s Mobile Threat Network to protect its V CAST Apps store, which sells about 2,000 apps for Android and BlackBerry devices. Verizon’s store should be using Lookout’s technology to protect itself within the coming weeks.

“We have a subset of mobile applications,” said Verizon business development director Todd Murphy. “Lookout has a global purview. We wanted to take advantage of what they were seeing.”

The need for protection is growing, Hering said. In the second quarter, Lookout said it saw instances of smartphone malware up 85 percent from just three months earlier. A recent threat, called GG Tracker, tapped into the carrier billing API, Hering said, potentially putting companies such as Verizon at risk.

“We’re starting to see more and more examples of these kinds of things,” he said.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work