Lookout Debuts A Mobile Security Suite For Business

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As announced earlier this fall, mobile security company Lookout today launched its new security suite for business customers. The product, Lookout for Business, represents the first time the company has gone after the corporate market where the growth in BYOD (bring-your-own-device) programs has necessitated the need for IT departments to better secure the various mobile devices attaching to their network.

Lookout had previously focused only on its consumer-facing mobile security service, which includes anti-malware and privacy protections, backup, as well as other useful features for tracking down or remotely wiping lost or stolen phones. It’s a feature set that also makes sense in a business environment, of course, where employee devices carry even more sensitive information.

lookout_for_business_device1As Lookout CTO Kevin Mahaffey explained earlier, the company’s consumer-first strategy started to pay off around a year and a half ago, when the firm began to receive inbound requests from businesses interested in buying licenses in bulk. He noted that Lookout had fielded “thousands” of inbound requests and claimed that over half of the Fortune 1000 already has employees using Lookout on their work devices. (Today, the company has dialed that figure down to “over 40%”).

The new Lookout for Business product protects a range of devices, including both personal and company-owned phones and tablets, from malware, malicious links and suspicious apps. It offers protection against theft or lost devices, too, with tracking and remote wipe capabilities like those introduced in the consumer version of the product. Both admins and employees alike can track, lock and wipe devices from an online dashboard. And in order to protect user privacy, if an admin or user attempts to take any action on the device, like a remote wipe, the other is notified.

The entire system is designed to be more self-serve in nature than some traditional MDM (mobile device management) solutions, as employees are sent a link to download the app, and can install and register devices themselves. It’s very hands off from an IT standpoint.

lookout_business_dashboard1

Essentially, the new suite of products is everything that’s offered in the consumer-grade service, only with the added invitation to corporate IT to now join in order to get a bird’s-eye view of devices across the network. The dashboard lets staff know how many devices are protected, what threats have been blocked, and lists current activity. There’s also a search box where admins can find a device by owner’s name, device type or brand.

The system doesn’t rely on definition updates, like older antivirus firms do, but rather receives updates in real-time over the air.

To make this work, the company built a data set of every application – every binary – worldwide. Today, Lookout uses that data to develop its own matching technology that’s able to identify bad blocks of code known to be associated with malware, or just resemble it.

At launch, Lookout for Business supports Android-based devices, but iOS devices will rolled into the product in early 2014. Pricing is TBD, as businesses are being asked to reach out to Lookout directly for quotes. Update: We asked Lookout to clarify its pricing strategy since the website doesn’t offer details, and the company explains that pricing is $5.00 per device per month for business users.

Lookout has been working with 20 companies for launch, but isn’t allowed to disclose them by name. These include everyone from a small brick and mortar small business all the way up to a Fortune 1000 company. The largest current customer has over 300 seats, currently.

The company has taken an interesting angle to get its foot into the business market, betting big on the consumerization of IT trend to give it an edge. Lookout waited until nearly half a company’s employees were already familiar with and using its service, then added the administration functions. That’s unlike so many other device management solutions, which still do it the other way around – they put IT in control.

The strategy may help Lookout get off the ground in the business world, but the company is still years behind big-name MDM solution providers in the space, including Good, MobileIron, AirWatch, Zenprise, Symantec, and others, which offer more advanced feature sets, too.

In addition to taking on the business world, Lookout’s recent raise of $55 million also sees the company working to expand internationally and form more carrier and OEM partnerships. The company has also recently partnered with Samsung on its Knox enterprise platform, as well as with carriers like AT&T and Orange.